A PROSPECTIVE parliamentary candidate for the UK Independence Party has admitted he was “briefly attached” to the far-right British National Party.
Nicholas Betts-Green, from Woodbridge, who has been selected to fight the Suffolk Coastal seat at the next election, said the British National Party (BNP) had appealed to him because of its hostile attitude to the European Union.
A retired teacher and motorcycle enthusiast, Mr Betts-Green was educated at Woodbridge School, as was BNP leader Nick Griffin.
“Unwisely, I agreed to attend a talk he gave in Ipswich. Knowing of my dislike for all things EU, he played up the BNP's anti-EU stance,” said Mr Betts-Green.
“It was this which persuaded me, very briefly, to attach myself to the BNP. I regretted it at once because of the people I met were somewhat rabid in their views.
“I have always felt the BNP to be unelectable because of their earlier National Front associations and I detached myself as rapidly as possible."
I never did anything of any kind for them and that one meeting was the only time I ever attended any sort of group.”
Mr Betts-Green said he had made it “absolutely clear” in August to the UK Independence Party's (UKIP) then acting chief executive, Piers Marchant, that he had attended the Ipswich meeting.
He wrote to Mr Marchant saying he would understand if his brief connection with the BNP ruled him out as a UKIP candidate, but was told he could proceed with his application.
Mr Betts-Green was interviewed by a panel of three UKIP members after the annual autumn conference in Bristol and given permission to seek the nomination to contest the Suffolk Coastal seat held by Conservative MP John Gummer.
Although no longer a member of the Conservative Party, Mr Betts-Green has remained a member of the Conservative Monday Club, which pledges its “loyalty to the Crown, opposes any interference to our judiciary, Parliament or economy by Brussels” and believes that anyone offered UK citizenship “must be able to show that they can use English as a first language”.
The club was expelled from association with the Tories in October 2001 because its views were said not to be compatible with mainstream Conservatism.
Mr Betts-Green, who served in the RAF and worked for British Airways before turning to teaching at Cheltenham Ladies College and later Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge, said his reason for joining the Monday Club was to enable him to get hold of the organisation's research papers, which were “mines of information of an anti-EU nature”.
Source: East Anglian Daily Times, 30th November 2004