Britain First hit back at impersonation claims

Written by Scott Campbell, Cumbernauld Media's Senior Reporter.

Published at 17:39 on 21 May 2015

Politics    Britain First    Condorrat Arms

There were ugly scenes at Cumbernauld railway station last month, when Britain First turned up. Picture: courtesy of Bill Henry.

THE right-wing political organisation, Britain First, has told Cumbernauld Media that they “refute” allegations which purport that the group booked a local function room under false pretences.

Britain First’s deputy leader, Jayda Fransen, has told us that the organisation “refutes” the claim by Condorrat Arms co-owner, Stephen Sneddon, that the controversial group booked the pub’s free-to-hire function room under false pretences.

Talking to the Cumbernauld News, earlier this week, Mr Sneddon claimed that the group had hired out his pub’s function room under the name ‘Scottish National Party hustings’. 

Hitting back at criticisms levelled at his business by local Scottish Socialist man and Condorrat resident, Kevin McVey, Mr Sneddon told the Cumbernauld News that he had “no time for this sort of thing”, adding that the group’s members “won’t be allowed to come back here.”

Mr Sneddon claimed that the right-wing political party had contacted the Condorrat Arms, asking to book out the function suite, for the purposes of holding a pre-election hustings. 

He told the newspaper that only when officers from Police Scotland contacted the pub did he and staff become aware of the real identities of the supposed Scottish Nationalist patrons.

“I’ve checked in our diary and this group booked under the name of Scottish National Party hustings,” he told the Cumbernauld News.

He added: “I can tell you now that if I had known who this group was at the time, I would have asked them to leave.”

Britain First has rubbished the claims, and speaking to Cumbernauld Media, the group’s deputy leader, Jayda Fransen said: "We refute any claims that we purported to be members / supporters of any political party other than Britain First.

“We made no attempt to conceal our identity from the staff / owners who entered the meeting room on several occasions and would therefore have very clearly seen the two Britain First 7ft pop-ups and the presence of our Britain First leaflets and newspapers which were placed on every chair in the room,” she added.

Hitting back at the comments of Mr McVey, who cried foul earlier this week, suggesting that claims by Britain First that they were treated to a “warm welcome” on a trip to Cumbernauld last month were “ludicrous”, Ms Fransen said: “We are shocked that a group of left-wing fascists campaigning against a registered political party holding a peaceful and civilised meeting has managed to make local news.

“Nevertheless we would like to add that we received an extremely warm welcome from the people of Cumbernauld and we look forward to our next visit to the town in the near future,” she added.

The dispute has erupted after activists from the controversial Britain First group turned up at Cumbernauld railway station on Wednesday 29th April, ahead of a local meeting.

The self-styled ‘patriotic political party and street defence organisation’ came north to host a Scottish conference last month, in a bid to gather support and co-ordinate activities, as the 2016 Scottish Parliament election draws closer.

In publicity after their visit to Cumbernauld, Britain First claimed that they had received a “warm welcome” in Cumbernauld – a claim dismissed by members of the Scottish Socialist Party branch in Cumbernauld as “ludicrous”.

Commenting earlier this week on the group’s claims, Cumbernauld Scottish Socialist Party member, Kevin McVey said: “Britain First is known for making outlandish claims about its own importance and last week’s comments seem to fall into that category. 

“The truth was that when they arrived they were met by a large group of protesters who wanted to make it clear that their poisonous message was not welcome in our communities. 

“They hung about for half an hour, giving their obligatory Nazi salutes, before departing. Meanwhile some of their colleagues huddled in a pub elsewhere in the town. Any idea that they were somehow warmly received is ludicrous. 

“We need unity to stand up against austerity in our communities and groups like this who seek to sow division and hate will be opposed by all but a tiny minority,” he added.

In issuing his comments, Mr McVey asked questions of the Condorrat Arms, where it is now confirmed that the activists of the far-right group were served. Members of the Cumbernauld SSP branch demanded answered about “how this happened”. 

Mr McVey added: “We will be contacting the Condorrat Arms to clarify the circumstances about the meeting Britain First had in the pub. We wish to know if it was a pre-booked event because if it was, it raises serious questions about how a far right hate group is given access to a pub that is described as being family friendly.  

He added: “As a resident of Condorrat I am extremely uncomfortable about the idea that local people could go into the pub and land amongst a group of people who promote hate and intolerance of people because of their race, religion or sexuality. Understandably this has caused some concern and should not be repeated.”