BNP man sues BBC for Combat 18 'slur'

BBC website: Roberts angry at content expose

A British National Party candidate in the 2001 general election is suing the BBC for libel after its website linked him to the extreme right-wing group Combat 18.

Barry Roberts, who stood for Lewisham East, claimed the BBC branded him a regular of the neo-Nazi group – which he described in his writ as a gang of "psychopaths, criminals and terrorists" – and linked him to its activities in the early Nineties.

The profile of Roberts on the BBC website implied he was involved in the direct action group led by murderer Charlie Sargent who, said Roberts, advocated terrorism and incited racial attacks on black, Asian and Jewish people.

The inclusion of a photograph of Roberts on the BBC website, accompanied by a swastika, implied he was unpatriotic, disloyal to his country and may have sympathised with the Nazis during the Second World War, he claimed.

Roberts said the BBC did not contact him first because its only concern was to indulge in "vulgar sensationalism under the hypocritical guise of public interest journalism".

Last year BBC1’s Panorama launched a special investigation called BNP: Under the Skin, which examined the party’s activities and its attempts to improve its image and electoral appeal.

Profiles of party members are shown on the programme’s website with a swastika and a pair of handcuffs to symbolise criminal records and links to football violence and far-right groups.

A photograph of Roberts is not included in the profiles, but a spokeswoman for the BBC refused to confirm that it had been removed. She would only confirm that proceedings had been issued and that the BBC would be investigating the claim.

In the writ, Roberts said the BBC had refused to apologise, and continued to publish the information on the website.

Roberts said this was because the BBC was "indifferent to the truth and has an internal culture of arrogance, self-

satisfaction, vanity, sanctimoniousness and conceit" which made it unwilling to admit it was wrong or apologise.

By Sarah Limbrick and Julie Tomlin

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