BNP hijacks Holocaust Memorial Day in Oldham
Members of the fascist British National Party (BNP) disrupted a Holocaust
memorial event in Oldham and an anti-fascist trade unionist was disgracefully
arrested by police for making a protest.
Two notorious BNP activists, Mick Treacy and Anita Corbett, turned up at the
town's official Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony. In a calculated insult, these
members of a Nazi, Holocaust-denying party laid a wreath.
Displaying total contempt for the day's proceedings, the BNP ignored the agreed
protocol for the ceremony and interrupted a speech by black Christian minister
the Rev Donnie Meyer to lay their wreath ahead of other organisations and
This was then covered up by another wreath laid by Martin Gleeson, secretary of
Oldham Trades Council and a prominent anti-racist campaigner in the town. The
BNP complained that Martin Gleeson, in laying the Trades Council's wreath, had
damaged their flowers.
Mr Gleeson's supporters say that the presence of the BNP, and the local police
and council's failure to exclude them, outraged those present, including several
representatives of the town's Jewish community.
Mr Gleeson was personally arrested by Chief Superintendent Keith Bentley, the
most senior police officer in Oldham. He was held for 7 hours at Oldham police
station and charged under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 s.1(1) and s.4 with
criminal damage to the BNP wreath, valued at £20.
He later said "I acted because I found the BNP wreath hypocritical and hurtful
both to myself and to my friends present at the ceremony. I intended only to
obscure it from public view." Oldham is covered by Greater Manchester Police,
the subject of the acclaimed BBC investigative documentary 'The Secret
Policeman' which highlighted widespread racism within the force.
The BNP is a fascist party, an ally of the NPD in Germany and the Front National
in France. Its leader, Nick Griffin, has spoken alongside politicians from both
these organisations and has represented the BNP at NPD events in Germany.
Griffin joined the party in 1995. He began to edit The Rune, an anti-Semitic
quarterly and announced that the BNP should prioritise denying the Holocaust to
schoolchildren. Griffin then earned a two-year suspended prison sentence for his
sick views on the Holocaust. In 1998, he was found guilty, at Harrow Crown
Court, of inciting race hatred by denying that the Holocaust took place.
Protests to Greater Manchester police chief Michael Todd at:
Messages of solidarity to Oldham Trades Council at:
The following letter has been sent to Greater
Michael Todd, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester
Police, Greater Manchester Police, PO Box 22, Manchester, M16 0RE
Dear Mr Todd
The arrest of Martin Gleeson, Secretary of Oldham Trades Union Council
As you are no doubt aware, Martin Gleeson, Secretary of Oldham Trades Council
was personally arrested for criminal damage by Chief Superintendent Keith
Bentley, the most senior police officer in Oldham. His offence was covering up a
wreath laid by the British National Party, at the Holocaust Memorial Day
Commemorations. As you should also be aware, though nothing can be taken for
granted in such matters, the BNP denies that there was a Holocaust. Its presence
at the wreath laying ceremony can therefore have had no other purpose other than
to insult those who were there for the purpose at hand.
The action by the BNP was clearly designed to insult
those present. There are clearly provisions in the Public Order Act designed to
deal with such a mischief, e.g. threatening and insulting behaviour. Supt.
Bentley however decided to arrest Mr Gleeson instead. This action was clearly
and explicitly racist.
Although Greater Manchester Police might fool itself into believing that putting
the picture of a Black officer on its web home page is sufficient, the actions
of the racist Keith Bentley clearly demonstrate otherwise. Greater Manchester
Police promised, after the ‘Secret Policeman’ that racists would be rooted out
of the force. Yet it is clear that you are happy for a racist to be the senior
officer in the Oldham Division of Greater Manchester Police.
We demand, if you wish to retain any credibility, that you suspend the said
Keith Bentley from his position and drop all charges against Martin Gleeson