The British National Party violently ejected Times investigations editor Dominic Kennedy from a press conference after a party member became upset with coverage in the paper.
Kennedy had been invited by the BNP to the Elm Park pub, in Hornchurch, Essex, to hear Nick Griffin, party leader and MEP for North West England, explain how his activists had just passed an historic reform that would allow ethnic minorities to join the party.
However, he was forcibly removed by security guards after Richard Barmbrook, BNP’s London Assembly member and a local councillor, became “extremely angry”, objecting to an article in The Times on Saturday, written by a different journalist, that claimed he had been spat at on the street in his local area and that some of his neighbours were worried about kind of visitors he had at his house.
After confronting Kennedy in the street over the article, Barmbrook joined other BNP members in a private meeting.
Members of the press, including Kennedy and Times photographer Paul Hackett, were then checked into the public element of the meeting by security. Kennedy claimed that Simon Darby, the BNP’s national spokesman, “called me by my first name and said that I could come in”.
Kennedy reported in the Times today: “At that point Mr Barnbrook appeared and said that I was unwelcome in the pub because I worked for The Times.
“I tried to explain to an official that I had been invited in by the press officer but I was told to leave. A security official gave me a sneaky hit in the small of the back. I pointed out that he had assaulted me. He denied it.
“I stood my ground. The official asked me whether I would leave, and warned me that I would be ejected. I declined to give a yes or no answer since I thought that there must be a misunderstanding and that Mr Darby, or maybe Mr Griffin, would sort it out. It was a long way to the door, and I could hardly believe that they would physically force me out of the room in front of the massed media, having invited me in by my first name.
“In a matter of moments I found about half a dozen security guys enthusiastically removing me. One threw a punch but it failed to land.”
He reported that “one man grabbed my nose and tried to remove it from my face. I was seized and shoved out of the door towards a parked car” while inside Griffin gave a series of interviews.
His rough removal from the press conference, Kennedy added, left him with a bloody nose.
Kennedy reported: “Asked about my rough ejection, he [Griffin] said that it was ‘because he is from The Times, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and it lies and it lies and it lies about this party. So he was told, ‘We’re sorry, you told one lie too many’, so we are not allowing anyone from The Times in – kindly leave. He refused to leave so he had to be encouraged to leave.’
“No such exchange took place. I was simply invited in and then ambushed by his henchmen.”