Britain First have had great success on social media, with their Facebook page having gained almost 1.5 million likes in the past few years. Founded by ex BNP chief fundraiser Jim Dowson in 2011, the group started as another of his get-rich-quick schemes. In 2012 they collected money on the streets under the guise of helping ex armed forces, in a true Del and Rodney style complete with folding table that got packed up in seconds if someone called the rozzers.
This video was recorded by an ex soldier who tracked them down.
In 2014 Britain First registered as an official political party, with Paul Golding as leader. Also in 2014 Golding along with his father and his deputy Jayda Fransen, opened a limited company – Britain First Merchandise Ltd. The company initially used Jim Dowson’s patriot store to sell their products, heavily promoting the link on their now popular Facebook page. These days the online shop is directly accessed from the official party website. Party accounts are registered annually with the Electoral Commission and are available to the public. On checking the available 2014 and 2015 accounts, we noted that there was no revenue declared from any commercial or miscellaneous activities. Obviously we were aware the party promoted and sold their merchandise, so we queried this omission of declared funds with the Electoral Commission. The response was sadly unhelpful. Britain First have confirmed to them the Ltd company and the political party are two separate entities and the proceeds from each activity are completely separate.
BUT THEY USE THE SAME WEBSITE! THEY PROMOTE THE GOODS THROUGH THEIR PARTY PAGE!! THEY EMAIL PARTY SUPPORTERS TO ASK THEM TO PURCHASE GOODS!!!
Imagine the same thing happening with the Conservatives or Labour. Surely this can’t be legal, we asked? The EC were once again unhelpful and suggested we contact the police ourselves if we believed fraud had been committed.
Of course, we then reported this to the police action fraud department, along with evidence of Mr Golding and Ms Fransen emailing supporters of the party for donations to fund their own criminal legal proceedings and fines. In what was beginning to feel like a ping pong match, after 5 minutes on hold whilst they took some advice, we were told it was a matter for the Electoral Commission.
We will continue in our quest to find some official department that can take action, and report any progress.