Liverpool BNP mayoral candidate Mike Whitby rents pigeon shed in city to be eligible to stand
THE British National Party candidate for Liverpool mayor Mike Whitby is only eligible to stand in the election because he rents a redundant pigeon shed in the city.
Mike Whitby, who claims to put “local people first”, is also standing for a seat on Wrexham council on May 3.
As Mr Whitby lives in North Wales he must own property or have business interests in Liverpool to stand for mayor. On his nomination papers he cites that he rents a “storage facility” at the Cricketers Club in Wavertree – the same venue city bosses unsuccessfully attempted to shut down for holding the BNP’s annual conference there in 2011.
But the ECHO has learned the facility is actually a unit where the local racing pigeon club used to meet. Deputy council leader Cllr Paul Brant said the ECHO’s investigations had brought the “murky practices” of the BNP home to roost.
Mr Whitby had been at the hearing in Birkenhead of a Wirral man who refused to pay his council tax, when a group of far-right activists attempted to “arrest” the judge for “treason”. He was jailed for refusing to give his name and address to the court.
Under electoral rules – which anti-fascist campaigners today branded “a farce” – renting the “storage facility” makes him eligible to stand to lead the city.
A Cricketers Club source said: “It’s an old shed in the grounds that used to be used by the pigeon lads. They used to race pigeons from there.
“He’s been renting it for around 12 months, maybe longer. We don’t know what they’ve got in there. They say it’s for equipment, but I don’t know what equipment they’ve got.”
Anti-fascist campaigner Alec McFadden said the government should look again at the rules on what qualifies people to stand.
According to the council, “candidates are eligible to stand if they are registered as an elector in Liverpool or have lived in the city for 12 months before their nomination or their main or only place of work for the last year has been in Liverpool or they have occupied, either as an owner or a tenant, any land or premises in the city for 12 months before nomination.”
Mr McFadden said: “It’s a farce, absolutely ridiculous, and it brings into disrepute the whole electoral system.”
Mr Whitby, who describes himself as an “independent marketing consultant”, is thought to be a key lieutenant of far right-wing leader Nick Griffin. Some far-right blogs blame him for the near-collapse of the party in Liverpool, which saw former BNP stalwart Peter “Quiggins” Tierney defect to stand for mayor on a National Front ticket.
Mr Whitby could not be contacted for comment, but BNP spokesman Simon Darby said: “He has got a certificate to say he is lawfully entitled to stand.”
Mr Darby confirmed that Mr Whitby was the defendant in the 2011 court case known only as “Detainee B” because he refused to give his name.
He was jailed after Wirral businessman Roger Hayes, refusing to pay a council tax debt, urged his supporters to make a citizens’ arrest “under the Magna Carta” of District Judge Roger Peake because he had “failed to take an oath of office”.
Mr Darby added: “It was lawful rebellion. He is a principled man, not a common criminal.
“He took a political stance against the way the courts clamp down on ordinary working people and was prepared to go to jail.”
Cllr Brant said: “The ECHO investigation has revealed a tangled web behind the BNP nomination.
“This really shows the murky practices of a party that professes to be newly clean and transparent.”
A spokesman for the Welsh Adjudication Panel, which is due to stage a hearing on the disrepute claim, said: “We have not arranged a hearing into the case yet. It’s with us, having come from the ombudsman.”
AN ELECTED mayor debate due to be held at Liverpool University tonight has been cancelled.
The decision was taken due to risk of “potential disruption from various factions” following the university’s decision to invite far-right candidates including the BNP and National Front.
From the Liverpool Echo . 19.04.12. Report by Marc Waddington