An American white supremacist has been barred from entering the UK ahead of tomorrow’s British National Party annual summer fete.
Hundreds of far-right activists and members of the BNP were setting up marquees, stages and fairground stalls in three fields just outside Codnor in Derbyshire today.
Tomorrow, hundreds more will gather for the annual gathering, although Preston Wiginton will not be among them after the racist campaigner was turned away from Heathrow yesterday.
The Home Office confirmed that Mr Wiginton was not allowed into the country as his presence may not have been conducive to the public good.
Mr Wiginton is an anti-immigration campaigner who travelled to Russia in 2007 to address a nationalist rally that responded by chanting “white power”. He contributes to the extreme right-wing Stormfront online forums and writes for websites including White Racial Patriots.
The Texan was expected to speak at this weekend’s event, but attractions will still include a raffle, comedians and a coconut-shy featuring the face of Sir Trevor Phillips, the black chairman of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
The party has more to reason to celebrate than ever before this summer after two members were elected to serve in the European Parliament in June, but local residents have complained that the growing event disrupts the area.
Last year’s event sparked violent scenes with around 30 anti-BNP protesters arrested. A high-profile policing operation has been put in place by Derbyshire Police for this year’s rally amid fears of more clashes.
Unite Against Fascism (UAF) plans to “kettle” the event tomorrow, with up to 50 coach loads of supporters coming from across the country to take part in an organised march.
Today UAF published an open letter on its website condemning the event. Signatories include Ken Livingstone, the former London mayor, Michael Rosen, a children’s author, and the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain.
The letter dismissed BNP claims that the event is a “patriotic family festival”. It claimed that last year’s guests included a Czech neo-Nazi and a Swedish fascist.
“The purpose of the BNP’s event is to build up a hardened neo-Nazi core at the centre of the organisation,” the letter read.
“We are already witnessing a spate of racist attacks in areas of high BNP activity. The BNP’s ’Red, White & Blue’ will only encourage more bigotry and violence on our streets.
“We condemn the BNP and its festival of race hate, and we urge people to reject this party’s poisonous and anti-democratic agenda.”
Derbyshire Constabulary has organised a “significant policing operation” for the festival and has invoked the Public Order Act to impose a number of conditions on the protest, running from 9am today until 4pm on Sunday.
Acting Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill said: “Our main aim for this weekend is that it passes off peacefully and any disruption is kept to a minimum.
“We are expecting a lot of people to come to this part of Derbyshire both to attend the Red, White and Blue event and also to protest against it.
“We are very mindful of the impact that such large numbers of people coming into a relatively small area can have on the local community and we have been working closely with Amber Valley Borough Council, residents and all the interested parties.
“The people attending Red, White and Blue have a right to do so in peace and safety but we also realise that people have the right to protest in a lawful and peaceful way. Local people also have the right to be able to go about their lives as normal.”
The BNP insists that it merely wanted to enjoy its annual event - now in its 10th year. Deputy leader Simon Darby said: “It’s not in our interests to cause trouble. We’re up there with our wives, girlfriends and children.
“We just want to have a good time, but these protesters want to latch trouble on to us.”