Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Blow for BNP as Judge Rules on PS389,000 Will

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Blow for BNP as Judge Rules on PS389,000 Will

Article excerpt

Byline: Patrick Joseph Reporter jnl.newsdesk@ncjmedia.co.uk

THE British National Party is in legal hot water after failing in a High Court bid to inherit PS389,000 left to it by a Northumberland-born expat.

When Ashington-born Joseph Robson died in Alicante, Spain, at the age of 81 in March 2010, he bequeathed his entire estate outside Spain - worth PS389,000 - to the BNP, leaving his two sons, Jeremy and Simon, with just PS135 between them.

However, a judge has now ruled that Mr Robson's bequest fell foul of the ban on foreign donations to political parties - and that the BNP broke the law by "receiving" and "accepting" the gift in breach of the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

Judge Richard Sheldon QC effectively tore up Mr Robson's will, declared that he died intestate and awarded his fortune to the sons he tried to disinherit.

There was no evidence that Mr Robson had been registered to vote in the UK at any time in the five years before his death - and he was therefore not a "permissible donor" to the far-right BNP or any other registered UK political party, the judge ruled.

Mr Robson had not lived in Britain "at any period after 1992" and exhaustive searches of the electoral rolls had failed to turn up his name.

The possibility that he was registered to vote in England in the five years before he died was "at best, highly unlikely," the judge said.

BNP chairman Nick Griffin, along with the party's Treasurer, Clive Jefferson, and leading party member, Adam Walker, a former teacher from County Durham, had taken steps to vary the terms of Mr Robson's will so that the bequest would be paid into a trust, rather than directly to the party.

But Judge Sheldon said that, by doing that, Mr Robson's gift had been inadvertantly "accepted" and "received" by the BNP in breach of the prohibition contained within the 2000 Act - which includes "penal provisions".

Although Mr Robson's cash had been distributed to no-one, pending the outcome of the case, the judge reached the "inescapable conclusion" that the BNP "had accepted the gift" before attempting to "pass it over" to trustees. …

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