BNP Leader Cleared of Race Hate (But He Insulted Islam)
BNP leader Nick Griffin and party activist Mark Collett have been cleared of inciting racial hatred after a retrial at Leeds Crown Court.
Mr Griffin, 46, from Powys, Wales, had denied two charges of using words or behaviour intended to stir up racial hatred in a speech in Keighley.Mr Collett, 26, of Leicestershire, was cleared of four similar charges.
The pair were charged in April 2005 after the BBC showed a secretly-filmed documentary "The Secret Agent" in 2004.'Cannot take freedom'
Mr Griffin smiled and nodded as the foreman of the jury read out the unanimous not guilty plea.
His wife Jackie burst into tears in the public gallery and there were cheers from BNP supporters, which were then muted by the judge.
Outside court, Mr Griffin and Mr Collett were greeted with chants of "freedom" by supporters waving the union jack.
The party leader said: "What has just happened shows Tony Blair and the government and the BBC that they can take our taxes but they cannot take our hearts, they cannot take our tongues and they cannot take our freedom."
Mr Griffin said his co-defendant had worked "incredibly hard" for the BNP but had been living under the threat of a prison sentence since the age of 23.
Mr Collett, the party's head of the publicity, said: "This is the BNP - two, BBC - nil."
He branded the BBC "cockroaches" and added: "The BBC have abused their position. They are a politically correct, politically biased organisation which has wasted licence fee payers money to bring two people in a legal, democratic, peaceful party to court over speaking nothing more than the truth."
During the trial, the jury heard extracts from a speech Griffin made in the Reservoir Tavern in Keighley, on 19 January 2004, in which he described Islam as a "wicked, vicious faith" and said Muslims were turning Britain into a "multi-racial hell hole".
At the same event, Mr Collett addressed the audience by saying: "Let's show these ethnics the door in 2004."
In his closing argument, Nick Griffin's barrister said his client's speech was a "campaign speech of an official and legitimate party".