A freelance journalist has explained his decision to post a copy of the full leaked members list for the far-right British National Party on his personal website.
Last night, a list of the names, addresses, phone numbers and job titles of thousands of current and former BNP supporters was published on a blog. It has since been taken down, but the list has gone viral and appeared on a number of sites.
The list includes the names of seven people identifying themselves as journalists – although one of these resigned from the BNP in 2004 because he was “unhappy with his reception within the party”.
A number of photographers and the editors of two BNP magazines, Identity and Voice of Freedom, are also listed.
West Midlands photojournalist Pete Marshall, who republished the list today, said: “I put it up to keep it in circulation as I believe that people are entitled to know the details of their neighbours who may be members of this organisation.
“I believe that people should be free to hold whatever strange views they want and equally we should be free to treat them accordingly.”
The BNP, which has called for a police investigation into the leak, said in a statement that the list was “essentially genuine” and based on its 2007 membership records.
Radio station TalkSport suspended one of its freelance presenters, Rod Lucas, after it emerged that his name was on the list. The UTV-owned station said it was not aware of Lucas’s BNP membership until today.
But a spokesman for the station later added: “Rod Lucas has told Talksport that as a freelance journalist, he and three colleagues joined the BNP while researching a story.
“As well as joining the BNP, Rod also joined 22 other organisations including the Animal Liberation Front, the Communist Party, the Anti-Vivisection movement, PDSA, Save the Panda among others.
“Rod Lucas would like to make it clear that he does not and has never supported the British National Party.”
In April this year, the BNP brought an injunction at the High Court in Manchester against five people to stop them publishing a list of party members.They were ordered by the court to destroy all records of the information that they held.
Party leader Nick Griffin said: “All we can say is that if we find out who it was and they are one of those covered by the High Court injunction, then they are going to prison.”
Griffin claimed that “hundreds” of the party’s members had received threatening calls today as a result of the leak – but said the list’s publication was good publicity for the BNP.
“We couldn’t have bought the publicity, the fact that we have teachers and doctors and women that knit, it’s a fantastic event politically for us,” he said.
“It’s going to show people that we’re not a bunch of skinhead morons, which is the left-wing media-created image. It shows we’re far broader than that, a snapshot of decent British society.”
Niri Shan, a privacy lawyer at Taylor Wessing, told Press Gazette that there was a “strong public interest” in the names of policemen and teachers affiliated with the BNP being made public.
He said: “Anyone publishing a member’s details risks facing a claim for infringement of privacy. On the face of it the information is inherently private.
“The question for the courts is whether the publication of private information is justified. The court will balance the competing rights of article 8 and article 10 of the Human Rights Act to reach its decision.
“In the case of policemen and teachers for example, I believe there is a strong public interest to justify disclosure of their names given their role in society.”
The BNP has taken large parts of its website offline today to prevent it from crashing after it received what Griffin said were “massive” levels of traffic.
The open source whistleblowing website WikiLeaks was also down this afternoon, claiming it had been “overloaded by extreme popularity”.
National Union of Journalists general secretary Jeremy Dear today renewed calls to close down a website linked to the BNP which urges supporters to target dissenting journalists.
He accused the party of “staggering hypocrisy” after it complained that its members’ privacy had been breached while the personal details of journalists remains visible on the Redwatch site.
“For years we have been demanding government action to close down websites such as Redwatch which seek to intimidate and silence media by publishing the photos, names and addresses of journalists who expose the criminal activities or racist views of BNP members and other far-right and neo-nazi thugs,” Dear said.
‘Despite innocent people being physically assaulted and threatened after having their details published on these sites we have never heard a single condemnation of this gross breach of privacy or unlawful harassment and intimidation from Nick Griffin or the BNP.
“Yet today, they seek to invoke the very Human Rights Act they want to abolish to protect the identity of their members. They have exposed their hypocrisy once again.”
“NUJ members have had their windows smashed, have been physically assaulted, have had their homes targeted and have had threats in the workplace – simply for doing their job and unless action is taken there is a danger of a chilling effect on the media and journalists in covering such vital issues of public interest.”