More than 270,000 people have signed a petition on the Number 10 website that calls for the scrapping of plans to build Europe's largest mosque close to the main site of the 2012 Olympics.
Tablighi Jamaat, the Islamic sect behind the mosque, has been accused of having links to Islamist terror groups, prompting a concerted campaign to block the project.
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Controversial: an early design for the proposed new mosque in east London.
But the Daily Mail's sister paper, the Evening Standard, has learned that the anti-mosque campaign has been infiltrated by the British National Party, which has told its members to sign the Downing Street petition. The petition was originally posted on the No 10 site by a Right-wing extremist called Jill Barham.
Ms Barham writes an online blog under the name English Rose, where she has laid claim to being author of the petition. The blog has links to several Right-wing and extremist websites.
Anti-fascist campaigners claim Ms Barham is a close friend of Chris Hill, a notorious BNP activist based in Lancaster. The involvement of fringe extremists from the North-West in what is essentially an east London planning matter has caused alarm and will lead to criticism that Downing Street should have blocked the petition over its use of inflammatory language.
The petition, which closed yesterday with 277,040 signatories, states: "We, the Christian population of this great country England, would like the proposed plan to build a mega-mosque in east London scrapped. This will only cause terrible violence and suffering and more money should go into the NHS."
Mayor Ken Livingstone condemned the petition for stirring up vitriol. "It is quite clear that this piece of vicious BNP propaganda, based as usual on entirely fabricated information, is solely designed to damage good community relations. It is wrong that such invented and falsified petitions provide a platform for those who would like to use them to create tensions among Londoners."
The BNP today admitted orchestrating a campaign to get its members to sign the petition. An email had been sent out to supporters with links to the petition on the Downing Street website.
The party used a similar tactic to try to influence a poll on the Evening Standard's website that had simply asked: "Are you in favour of the £100million mosque?"
The poll was withdrawn after the discovery of the extremists' attempts to manipulate the outcome.
BNP leader Nick Griffin said: "We have publicised the petition on our website encouraging people to sign and we have had a small part to play in that [reaching 270,000 signatures]. We also had an email campaign to get our people to sign it."
Asked whether he was aware of the English Rose blog or if Ms Barham was a BNP activist, Mr Griffin said: "Even if I knew who she was I wouldn't tell you. She may be involved in the BNP at a local level but I just don't know. I can neither confirm nor deny." The website of Lancaster United Against Fascists says that it believes the BNP's local candidate, Chris Hill, is a friend of Ms Barham. The group said today its inquiries indicated Ms Barham ran two websites English Rose and Cry For Freedom, both of them which it described as "rabidly anti-Islamic".
The success of the petition has been seized on by protesters as evidence of the strength of opposition to the mosque.
Newham councillor Alan Craig, a member of the Christian People's Alliance, issued a press release yesterday highlighting the petition's success, although he refused to sign it and admitted he was "wary of the exact wording". He is leading the local campaign against the mosque, planned for an 18-acre site at Abbey Mills next to West Ham Underground station. Mr Craig accused Tablighi Jamaat of being divisive because of its extremist, separatist beliefs.
The French intelligence services have called Tablighi Jamaat "an antechamber of fundamentalism". Two of the 7 July suicide bombers allegedly attended the group's HQ in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
Abdul Rashid Bhatti, spokesman for the Abbey Mills Mosque, said today: "Ken Livingstone has exposed the petition for what it is, and we thank him for that. Both in the language used and in the total lack of truth, we are disappointed that people have been so misled for purposes other than genuine public debate. Tablighi Jamaat is a mainstream, non-political Muslim organisation seeking to go about its faith in a peaceful manner."