Sun, Jul 18, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Barclays to close accounts due to racist statements

RIGHT WING The British National Party has been winning some support, but an undercover BBC report caught a member bragging about a brutal race beating

AFP , LONDON

Barclays Bank is to close accounts used by a far-right British party after one of its members boasted on an undercover BBC television documentary about assaulting an Asian man, media reports said.

Barclays, Britain's third-largest bank, will shut about five accounts linked to the British National Party, not all of which are registered in the party's name, the reports said.

"The bank had been looking at the situation for some time, but the BBC documentary last night provided evidence enabling the bank to act," the source said.

Asked to comment on the report, a spokesman for Barclays said: "We can't talk on an individual basis about our customers, even confirm if someone or an organization is a customer."

An activist for the party, which demands an end to immigration, told an reporter that he attacked an Asian man during race-related riots three years ago in the city of Bradford, northern England.

The confession came in a BBC documentary entitled The Secret Agent, aired by the public broadcaster late Thursday.

The film by undercover reporter Jason Gwynne also showed party leader Nick Griffin condemning Islam as a "vicious, wicked faith" and saying he would face seven years in prison if he made such comments in public.

Party activist Steve Barkham said of his attack on an Asian man: "I gave him a good fucking hiding because that's what he asked for .... I'm kicking him, kicking away, kicking away. Oh, it was fucking fantastic."

Barkham added: "The coppers are, like, lifting him up and he's not moving. His arms are all fucking floppy. His head is down. Blood's coming out of his head."

Police were analyzing Friday the film to see whether or not to charge Barkham.

In local elections last month, the party won four council seats in Bradford, which has a large population of South Asian origin.

The party has gained a handful of English council seats in recent years, on a platform of ending immigration and encouraging non-white Britons to return to their countries of origin.

It has mainly found success in poor, working-class regions of northern England but had not won any seats in Bradford until last month's poll success.

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