EU Referendum

Vote Leave tell ex-BNP official Mark Collett to stop using their material

Mark Collett Image copyright Mark Collett

Vote Leave have distanced themselves from a former top BNP official who has been using their campaign material.

Mark Collett and his girlfriend Eva Van Housen - who has a swastika tattoo - have been handing out Vote Leave leaflets and badges from an official-looking stall in Leeds city centre.

Mr Collett was chair of the BNP Youth Wing before the party expelled him.

Vote Leave said he was not part of their campaign and they had asked him to stop using their material.

Eva Van Housen posted a picture on Facebook on 8 May with a Vote Leave badge pinned on a top which revealed the swastika tattoo with the comment "had a really great time today with Mark doing a Vote Leave stall". She describes herself as a "white-national socialist" on Twitter.

Vote Leave is the officially designated campaign to get Britain out of the EU in 23 June's referendum.

A spokesman for the Yorkshire branch of the campaign said they had asked Mr Collett to stop campaigning with their materials on 8 May.

Image copyright Mark Collett

But on Facebook Van Housen posted on 15 May that the couple "did another really great Vote Leave stall today".

Mr Collett posted a photo last weekend of the couple at "another very successful Vote Leave stall this weekend with the help of some other veteran nationalists".

Vote Leave are looking into how the former senior BNP member managed to get hold of their campaign materials.

On his Facebook page, Mr Collett has called on other nationalists to campaign for Vote Leave posting "if you want to do your own stall contact Vote Leave and they will send you everything you need to get started".

A Vote Leave spokesman said: "Mark Collett and his associates are not part of our campaign.

"We are a volunteer organisation, but anyone who is or was in the past a BNP campaigner is asked not to campaign for us or to distribute Vote Leave material."

One Vote Leave organiser in Yorkshire said Mr Collett had signed up to the campaign using a fake email address under a different name. When they found out who he was, he was de-registered as a supporter.

But in the two weeks since that happened Mark Collett has continued campaigning with his girlfriend using Vote Leave materials outside shops in Leeds.

'No right'

Ms Van Housen told BBC News she felt "very strongly about leaving the EU" and had obtained campaign materials from her local Vote Leave branch to set up a stall.

She added: "I have spoken to members of the public of all races, nationalities and sexual orientations, and we have had a very positive response from the public, they have greatly appreciated our campaigning work and we have truly made a difference.

"I have in no way brought my political views in to my Vote Leave campaign work. This is about leaving the EU and only that."

She said Vote Leave asked her to stop using their materials when they discovered that Mr Collett was a former member of the BNP.

"Vote Leave is a non-affiliated volunteer campaigning group, they have absolutely no right in telling me and my partner to discontinue the stalls," she told the BBC.

"Myself and my partner and any other nationalists will continue to hold Vote Leave stalls and leaflet up until the referendum. My political tattoos and beliefs are left out of my campaign work entirely."

Mr Collett has been contacted for a response but has yet to provide one.