BNP's Nick Griffin declared bankrupt

Nick Griffin Nick Griffin said he would use his bankruptcy experience to help his constituents

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British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin MEP has been declared bankrupt.

A bankruptcy order was made at Welshpool County Court on Thursday.

Mr Griffin tweeted: "Being bankrupt does NOT prevent me being or standing as an MEP. It does free me from financial worries."

He added: "I am now turning the experience to the benefit of hard-up constituents by producing a booklet on dealing with debt."

Mr Griffin is planning to stand as a candidate in May's election for the European Parliament.

A statement on the BNP website said the bankruptcy petition was presented for judgement by Mr Griffin's former solicitors, Gilbert Davies and Partners.

The firm once represented Mr Griffin, including during the early stages of his long-running legal battle with the Equality and Human Rights Commission over the BNP's membership rules.

Mr Griffin said he and the law firm had become involved in a legal dispute of their own, culminating in a court order last February ordering him to pay the law firm about £120,000 in fees and costs - a ruling he is intending to challenge in the High Court.

Analysis

Changes to the law in 2002 - which came into force in 2004 - mean bankruptcy does not, in itself, disqualify anyone from being an elected representative or standing for office.

However, if the individual concerned is found to have acted dishonestly either before or during the 12-month bankruptcy period - such as deliberately incurring debts that they know could not be repaid - a court can impose a bankruptcy restriction order.

The terms of this order normally last between two and 15 years and would prevent someone holding or seeking elected office.

The firm confirmed that it was in a legal dispute with Mr Griffin but was not making any comment about the MEP's claims.

Mr Griffin will be automatically discharged from bankruptcy in one year, on January 2 2015, in accordance with the Insolvency Act.

'No significance'

The Electoral Commission said bankruptcy in itself did not bar someone from being a member of the European Parliament or standing for election.

Restrictions are only triggered if an individual is made subject to a bankruptcy restrictions order or debt relief restrictions order.

The Insolvency Service said such orders had not been made in Mr Griffin's case.

Mr Griffin said his bankruptcy was of "no political significance whatsoever" and did not affect the BNP's own financial position.

"This order will not prevent me fighting for the interests of the British people or leading the British National Party to a fresh round of electoral victories," he said.

"On a practical note, I am now much better able to advise and help the huge numbers of decent ordinary folk in my constituency who have financial difficulties of their own," he added.

Mr Griffin was one of two BNP MEPs elected in 2009. The other, Andrew Brons, has since quit the party accusing the party leader of "marginalising" him.

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