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IDS AND LE FASCIST; Tory leader at secret meeting with French racist.


TORY leader Ian Duncan Smith faced a fresh row over racism last night after it emerged he held a secret Commons meeting with a leading French fascist.

He was among a group of top Tories who agreed to talk to members of the French National Front, which campaigns for black Africans to be expelled from the country.

After the meeting, held behind closed doors in a private office, Mr Duncan Smith also had drinks in a Palace Of Westminster bar with leading French National Front politician Bruno Gollnisch.

The meetings were set up by the extreme right-wing Western Goals Institute, a shadowy group which once arranged for French NF leader Jean-Marie le Pen to address a fringe meeting at the Tory Party's annual conference.

Le Pen has campaigned against allowing black immigration - and once described the Nazi gas chambers as a "detail" of history.

The institute also arranged for Alessandra Mussolini, the fascist-sympathising granddaughter of Italy's wartime leader, to attend another fringe meeting.

Mr Duncan Smith's Commons meeting was conducted under an anti-European Union banner.

It was also attended by at least five other senior Tories including former Chancellor Norman Lamont, leadership challenger John Redwood, and backbenchers Richard Body, Paul Marland and John Sweeney.

Details of the meetings, in October 1995, were kept secret at the time.

But in Paris yesterday French NF secretary Mr Gollnisch - who is also a Euro-MP and has his own internet website for his headquarters town of Lyon, said: "I came to London with other members of the French National Front to meet members of the British Conservative Party who were sympathetic to our views.

"The meetings were to hold an exchange of views on Europe.

"We, like the Conservative MPs we met, are strongly opposed to the disappearance of national identities under a monstrous European super-state.

"I met Ian Duncan Smith and other MPs in their offices at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster and later the same day we all got together for less formal talks in a bar somewhere in the Parliament building.

"There must have been at least a dozen of us. I remember meeting Ian Duncan Smith best of all because when I saw he had been elected leader of the Conservative Party, I instantly recalled that meeting I had with him." Mr Duncan Smith's aides yesterday confirmed that the Tory leader had taken part in the meetings, but denied he knew the National Front representatives were there.

One said: "He was asked by the Party to address a meeting and along with others, did so. He did not know who was in the audience and would not have been there had he known."

Since taking over the Tory leadership earlier this year, Mr Duncan Smith has been plagued by the emergence of past links with right-wing groups.

He was forced to sack a member of his campaign team who was unmasked as a British National Party sympathiser. In an effort to present a moderate, voter-friendly face to the public he has also expelled the Monday Club - which favours repatriation for immigrants - from the Party.

The Western Goals Institute is even more extreme. One of its former presidents, Clive Derby-Lewis, was convicted of involvement in the murder of Chris Hani, a black South African activist. His predecessor was Salvadorean death squad leader Major Roberto D'Aubuisson.

Mr Duncan Smith was last night accused by one of his own party members of "gross hypocrisy" for removing right-wingers from key posts.

Businessman Michael Smith, a member of the Monday Club since 1972, claimed the Commons meeting was arranged by Western Goals at a time when many Tories were seriously at odds with the then-Prime Minister John Major over Europe.

Mr Duncan Smith, who once blamed ethnic minorities in his Chingford constituency for housing shortages, has underlined his new approach by declaring he would be "intolerant of intolerance".


RACE HATE: Gollnisch National front site; FASCIST: Le Pen
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 11, 2001
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