In a far reaching judgement, Nick Griffin, leader of what remains of the BNP, has today been declared bankrupt.
The landmark hearing occurred today, 2nd January at 11.00 am in the Welshpool County Court. The bankruptcy petition was presented for judgment by creditors of Griffin.
Griffin, who is no stranger to bankruptcy, arrived in Court with Simon Darby (former deputy leader and constant aide) , and an advisor from a firm of Insolvency Practitioners who applied for an IVA (individual voluntary arrangement).
Griffin declared himself as without assets and offered to pay 42p in the £ over 5 years to all his creditors – the balance to be written off. This was rejected by the petitioning creditor.
Deputy District Judge Fox dismissed Griffin’s application and then proceeded to deal with the bankruptcy petition, which he granted.
Lawrence McDonald, counsel for the petitioning creditor, referred to the filed BNP accounts as being healthy.
The Judge was satisfied with the petition and declared Griffin bankrupt.
In an earlier hearing on 6th Feb 2013, Griffin had been ordered to pay what amounted to nearly £120,000 in outstanding moneys and costs to one of his or the Party’s creditors. Griffin’s habit of procrastination is thought to have contributed as much as £60,000 of this sum.
In a separate move, it is understood there is an application to obtain an attachment of Griffin’s earnings at the European Parliament. This would mean his parliamentary salary will be docked in part settlement of his debts. His Parliamentary salary is attachable before the expected loss of his seat in the European Elections.
It is not known how much the BNP owes in debts elsewhere. An employment tribunal remains outstanding in the sum of £25,000, quite apart from the vast costs of that case. It is also understood that many small traders are owed substantial amounts by what remains of the BNP, which Griffin still leads. One trader has apparently gone into liquidation because of Griffin’s non-payment.
Next week Griffin is due in Court again in a further hearing brought by other creditors. This is understood to embrace a figure of perhaps as much as £100,000, depending upon what sums have already been paid by either Griffin or the BNP.
For some time the BNP has been regularly boasting of the healthy nature of the party's accounts and the size of legacies left by former members. It is questionable as to whether the party's accounts have taken into consideration the sizeable debts owed to the party's creditors. This, in turn, casts doubt on the veracity of the accounts filed on behalf of the party.
As the BNP continues to limp along on life-support, many ex members have suggested that the purpose of the party is to provide Griffin and his family with a salary when he loses his seat. A second purpose is to prevent any successor party from replacing it.
In 2009/10, the BNP's membership was nearly 15,000. Today, excluding the 'Life' category of members – of which the majority have departed in disgust – the party's membership is believed to have collapsed by between 80-90%.
Many ex members have accused Griffin of having squandered the efforts and resources of numerous members and as having dashed their hopes for the future.
Many will ask how it is possible for Griffin, who receives a considerable salary as an MEP and handsome attendance allowances, to be made bankrupt. Questions will therefore arise as to what Griffin has done with his salary, monies and assets. His financial activities, how he has spent his money, whether he has transferred it with the prospect of Court actions in mind will all almost certainly become areas of considerable interest for the Trustee in Bankruptcy and other interested parties to investigate. The Trustee will, no doubt, also wish to investigate ownership of the Trafalgar funds and accounts.
Footnote: See contributing notes below from a barrister about some of the legal issues surrounding this bankruptcy.
Details of the bankruptcy are now available on the Individual Insolvency Register, which can be found here.
January 7 Update:
This morning in Court 57 of the Royal Courts of Justice, Nick Griffin and Simon Darby faced another costs hearing, resulting from their long-running civil actions against several expelled former BNP officials – Kenny Smith, Nicholla Ritchie (now Mrs Smith), Steve Blake and Ian Dawson.
Griffin and Darby lost the final stage of the case in December 2010, and lost their subsequent appeal.
Griffin and Darby were ordered to pay the costs of Mr and Mrs Smith and Messrs Blake and Dawson. After some postponement, a first instalment of £45,000 was eventually paid, though not before Sheriff’s officers had visited Nick Griffin’s house and removed a car.
Today they were ordered to pay an additional instalment of £22,500 within 28 days. Since Nick Griffin is bankrupt, Simon Darby is now seriously at risk of being made bankrupt if the money is not paid.
Another costs hearing in the case is now scheduled for Friday 21st March. This is to allow the Official Receiver, who is now in charge of Nick Griffin's affairs, to make representations if he so wishes. The total costs bill in this case is likely to be more than £130,000 (in addition to Griffin and Darby's own costs), of which only £45,000 has been paid so far, so that c. £90,000 is claimed over and above the £45,000 paid on account of which £22,500 is payable now.
Griffin’s and Darby’s lawyers had offered £5,000 in full and final settlement of the £90,000 claimed which caused irritation.
Anyone considering making a donation to the British National Party should be aware that – contrary to Nick Griffin's assertions – party funds are unlikely to be safe from Griffin and Darby's creditors in this and other cases. Today's long running case (though the largest) is only one of several legal liabilities confronting Griffin and his party.
Nick Griffin did not attend court today, although Simon Darby and BNP treasurer Clive Jefferson did. Surprisingly, the well known nationalist magazine, Heritage and Destiny, was the only media organisation represented.
Jefferson's presence suggests that it is has been realised that the party will have to pay this debt or a receiver of its funds will be appointed. Griffin and Darby brought the claim on behalf of all the members of the BNP, so it is a party debt.