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Duncan Smith and the Far Right: British National Party.. Good afternoon.

Byline: OONAGH BLACKMAN

IAIN Duncan Smith campaign aide Edgar Griffin lifted the phone - and damned himself in five brief words.

"British National Party," he told The Mirror. "Good afternoon."

It was confirmation that the man listed as a vice president in hardliner Mr Duncan Smith's campaign for the Tory leadership was an activist for the extreme group.

Even worse, he is father of BNP leader and convicted racist Nick Griffin. His wife, Jean, is a BNP secretary and stood for the group in the general election.

In his talk with The Mirror Mr Griffin agreed that Mr Duncan Smith was an "extreme right winger" and claimed Tories were ready to join the BNP "in droves" if rival Ken Clarke won the leadership contest.

The revelations appalled Mr Duncan Smith's campaign HQ who pledged an immediate investigation.

Last night, Mr Griffin was axed from the campaign team and told he could be booted out of the Tory party.

Eurosceptic Mr Duncan Smith - described by former premier John Major on Wednesday as "very right wing" - said: "This is the sort of swift action you can expect me to take when I am leader if I find any more examples.

"I utterly abhor the BNP and what they stand for and I will not tolerate people who infiltrate the Tory party."

Despite the strong words it is believed Mr Griffin's links have dealt a huge blow to Mr Duncan Smith who is trying to appear more moderate.

Mr Griffin's name appears alongside other Duncan Smith campaign vice-presidents in letters sent out by Tory vice chairman Nigel Evans.

MP Mr Evans is President of the Welsh Conservatives Campaign for Mr Duncan Smith.

Mr Griffin's wife, Jean, is listed on the BNP website as "Enquirers' Secretary" and it is normally her role to answer telephone calls.

But yesterday it was Mr Griffin himself who answered the phone. The vice-chairman of Montgomery Tories, who is in his 70s, was happy to reply to our questions.

Asked whether Mr Duncan Smith was a right-wing extremist, he said: "Yes, and nobody has to be afraid of it. There's nothing wrong with that.

"It's simply the extreme right wing of the Tory Party, in other words the electorate. Of this 318,000 most of them are extreme right wing."

Turning to Europhile Mr Clarke, he said: "If Ken wins, the Conservative Party will lose its membership in droves straight into the BNP - that's the only place they've got to go.

"My son says the BNP is getting approaches from people in the party as high as county councillors who would defect. I'm sure that is true."

Mr Griffin, of Welshpool, mid Wales, also said the number of asylum seekers in Britain was "dreadful". He said: "Nobody wants them here.

"There's no justification for it. A lot of them are coming from democratic European countries. So why on earth should they come over here?"

Mr Griffin's son Nick, 42, has a conviction for inciting racial hatred.

He became involved with the National Front at 14, and when he left said: "It is with great sadness that I made the decision to leave".

One of his leading BNP henchmen is convicted bomber and neo-Nazi thug Tony Lecomber.

The Griffin family used to go to right wing rallies in the 70s. Their Suffolk farm was used by well-known extremists for gigs featuring race hate groups like Skrewdriver.

They were seen at the BNP's Red White and Blue Festival near their home two weeks ago.

Anti-fascist groups blamed the family for stirring up racial tension before recent race riots in Oldham.

Mr Griffin insisted he is not a paid up member of the BNP. But his 69-year-old wife stood as a BNP candidate in Chingford against Mr Duncan Smith at the last general election.

Her husband said yesterday: "It wasn't anything personal. It was a paper candidature." Nick Lowles of the anti-fascist group Searchlight said: "The fact that openly right wing extremists are backing Iain Duncan Smith should set alarm bells ringing.

"The Griffin family are tarnished with right wing extremism."

Conservative vice-chairman Steve Norris said: "Iain's problem is that however nicely he says it, his message attracts precisely these sorts of people. He has to cut off all links with this sort of extremist element."

Tory Welsh Assembly member David Davies, who is campaigning for Mr Duncan Smith in Wales, said: "Mr Griffin has ceased office.

"He has been reported with a view to having him removed from the party. Iain will be shocked by this. His campaign manager is beside himself with fury." Mr Duncan Smith's spokesman told The Mirror: "Iain has phoned Nigel Evans and asked him to take action immediately against this guy if this allegation is true.

"He will be removed. He has no place in the Conservative Party. We couldn't have moved quicker. We got on to Wales within 35 minutes of being tipped off, and he has gone."

In the 90s Mr Duncan Smith was outspoken on immigration.

In a Commons debate in 1992, he blamed British ethnic minorities for causing housing shortages in his Essex constituency.

On Wednesday in a live head to head TV debate Mr Clarke called him the "most extreme" Eurosceptic in the Conservative party.

THIS is a transcript of the taped phone conversation with Edgar Griffin when The Mirror rang the 0700 BNP hotline.The number is on the BNP website and is usually answered by his wife Jean, the "Enquirers' Secretary".

Edgar Griffin: British National Party, good afternoon.

Mirror: I was trying to contact Edgar Griffin?

EG: What about?

Mirror: It's in connection with the Conservatives, Iain Duncan Smith's campaign.

EG: It's Griffin speaking.

Mirror: We are doing something on Iain Duncan Smith's campaign and I know you are one of the vice presidents...

EG: Yes.

Mirror: Nigel Evans has put something out...

EG: Yep.

Mirror: I know you've been a Tory councillor before. Why do you think he (Duncan Smith) is going to be the man for the job?

EG: I think he is a very sound and honourable man. He had a good record in the services and I am quite prepared to believe what he says, whereas Clarke tries to hide the fact that our independence will go if he becomes leader because he will take the Conservative Party right in with Blair and Kennedy straight into the European superstate.

Mirror: Are you still a member of the Tory Party?

EG: Very much so, very much so. If Clarke were to win, the Conservative Party will lose its membership in droves.

Mirror: Who is in front?

EG: Iain Duncan Smith is streets ahead. We had an evening of the executive council three weeks ago and we invited party members in after and out of the whole group only four hands went up for Clarke. He's never going to win it and if he did there would be droves leaving straight into the BNP, that's the only place they've got to go.

Mirror: People have been saying Duncan Smith is more extreme right-wing than William Hague, what do you think about that?

EG: There's nothing wrong with that. It's simply the extreme right wing of the Tory Party, in other words the electorate. Of this 318,000 most of them are extreme right wing. The liberals who joined the Conservative Party have been a thorn in our flesh because one after another they defected and they held back the Conservatives from doing what needed to be done. They held Margaret Thatcher back.

Mirror: Your wife Jean stood against Iain Duncan Smith?

EG: Yes it's odd, ironic isn't it, we did come from that part of the world. It wasn't anything personal, it just happened. I don't need to tell you it was a paper candidature.

Mirror: What does Nick your son think of Iain Duncan Smith?

EG: He thinks he is a very decent fellow. He's saying the BNP are getting approaches from people in the Conservative Party as high as county councillors if Clarke were to win they would defect and I am sure that is true.

Mirror: Your wife is Enquirers' Secretary for the BNP?

EG: Yes.

Mirror: Do you have a title?

EG: No, I am not a member.

Mirror: Were you in the National Front?

EG: No, never was.

Mirror: You've been to meetings

EG: Yes.

Mirror: You think Duncan Smith will be a new dawn for the Conservatives and the natural instincts of the main 318,000 you were saying earlier is extreme right?

EG: Yes, absolutely.

Mirror: He has asked questions on asylum and repatriation - do you think his views there are in line with this membership?

EG: Yes because the point is no one wants the asylum seekers here. They're coming from democratic European countries. Why should they come over here from Macedonia, from Romania, from Greece. The French don't want them. They know once they are here they can disappear into the black economy. It's dreadful, no one can justify that at all. First of all he has got to come to power (Iain Duncan Smith).

CAPTION(S):

EXPOSED: Edgar Griffin yesterday Picture: JEREMY WILLIAMS; AIDE: Edgar Griffin, circled, is listed as a vice president of the Tory leadership campaign for Duncan Smith, inset; EXTREMIST: BNP leader Nick Griffin
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 24, 2001
Words:1549
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