29 August 2000
A meeting of the Advisory Council was held on August 26 which I attended.
Various points emerged concerning the finances of the Trafalgar Club, a matter concerning which I distributed a circular to organisers dated August 7.
Firstly, as a general issue concerning the management of party affairs,financial and otherwise, it was drawn to Mr Griffin's attention that the party's constitution had still not been reissued following changes voted on by members several months ago. Mr Griffin said that everyone present knew what the new constitution contained even if a printed version had not yet been issued. Since several changes to the suggested alterations presented to the meeting in Milton Keynes were made during the course of voting, and various drafts of the original proposals were circulated, it is not satisfactory to rely on memory for the details of the constitution, as Mr Griffin suggested.
A party without an issued constitution which can be referred to in its entirety inprinted form invites all manner of difficulties and disputes.
Concerning the Trafalgar Club finances specifically, Mr Griffin presented to the council a draft statement of income and expenditure, prepared by himself or on his behalf,and two reports about the matter, one by a qualified accountant, Keith Boyall, and one by Mr. Davies, who is a barrister.
Mr Boyall said in his report that the figures seemed reasonable for the expenditures described but that he had not seen either bank statements or receipts for the sums involved, and that valid back up documentation was needed before the figures could be accepted. In particular, no details were available to Mr Boyall at the time of preparing his report about a loan repayment to Mr Lecomber, and Mr Griffin would need to give a full explanation.
Mr Davies said in his report that he had seen copies of some invoices which I had sent him and which were never in dispute, although some minor matters needed to be agreed, but Mr Griffin had not provided to him any sight of invoices totalling £5850 for the purchase and repair of vehicles listed in Mr Griffin's draft accounts - the main item of concern to me as Treasurer referred to in my August 7 circular.
Mr Davies also said that Mr Griffin had told him that payments totalling £1500 to Mr Lecomber were not, in fact, repayments of a loan made by the latter to the party - as misdescribed in Mr Griffin's draft accounts (and also in an Emergency Bulletin sent by him to organisers and dated August 2000). Mr Davies added in his report that I, as Treasurer, was 'fully justified in pressing for a proper explanation' of both vehicle expenditures and payments to Mr Lecomber.
He said that 'Nick might very justifiably be reproached for dangerous and illegal risk taking which could easily cause serious political embarrassment to the Party'.Mr Griffin said during the meeting that he had with him receipts for £5850 to cover the vehicle expenditures.
I did for a moment see four documents concerning purchase of cars, but in the absence of any opportunity to review the entire bundle of invoices and receipts outside the meeting I cannot offer any opinion on whether they are satisfactory as backup documentation,although I have no reason to suppose otherwise with the exception that Mr Griffin told the meeting that a portion of the documents were dubious, or some similar word which he applied to them.
If £5850 has been spent on vehicles by the Trafalgar Club then that would largely explain and justify the £7000 needing to be accounted for to which I referred in my circular of August 7. In conjunction with payments to Mr Lecomber, the destination of the entire amount would be explained, although I would certainly not have authorised as Treasurer the payments to Mr Lecomber about which I knew nothing at the time of their transfer by Mr Griffin.
I emphasise that neither myself nor the authors of the two reports presented by Mr Griffin have had the opportunity to properly examine Mr Griffin's documents relating tothe £5850 vehicle expenditures - or indeed to examine them at all in two cases - and that Mr Griffin declined to provide many of the documents to me at an earlier date despite having had weeks to assemble them.
Mr Griffin suspended me from membership of the party for three months at the end of the meeting. He did not provide me with a copy of the various charges against me which he read out to the meeting, but one of the principal complaints was that I had not been prepared to wait until the Advisory Council meeting to bring forward my concerns about the finances of the Trafalgar Club. That is correct.
As Treasurer, I believed that there were substantial grounds for thinking that irregularities existed in the handling of the party's funds. It is the duty of a treasurer in such circumstances not to delay in investigating and dealing with the matter.
Do members wish to see a treasurer who is reluctant to take action regardless of the source of his concerns? If irregularities are found to exist in such cases, any substantial delay might simply allow further irregularities to occur and compound the problem.
It is clear to me that very significant irregularities were indeed occurring. Mr Griffin announced at the meeting that Chris Green, who members were told would be the new treasurer following my dismissal, had resigned from the position.
A third treasurer, John Brayshaw, had been appointed. Mr Brayshaw was present at the meeting.
Finally, the way forward for a patriotic party like the BNP is plain. It is for the party to be run in an entirely legitimate manner in which any enquiry can be answered satisfactorily if necessary, and members and donors are content that it is the case.
Sincerely Michael Newland
30 August 2000
A point I should have made clearer in my previous e-mail dated 29 August was that I was not the treasurer of the Trafalgar Club.
My position was national treasurer, which meant that with a fund like the Trafalgar Club I would need to incorporate its income and expenditures into the main accounts eventually, and thus to be in a position to do so, while I was not administering its funds on a daily basis or a signatory on its bank account..
Under the party's constitution the chairman can set up any local group or fund he likes and appoint a treasurer - who does not necessarily have to be the national treasurer. It would be impractical to run a national organisation otherwise. Thus branches have their own treasurers for example.
I do not know who is or was the treasurer of the Trafalgar Club but the bank statements I saw carried the address of Mr Griffin's father.
Sincerely Michael Newland