BNP posts Jo Cox ‘Muslim’ slur through neighbours’ letterboxes as racist attacks soar

Jo Cox in 2015
Jo Cox in 2015

The far-right British National Party has posted leaflets to people living near the West Yorkshire town where Labour MP Jo Cox was killed, accusing her of taking “misguided action” by “helping Muslims”, the Commons has heard.

Labour’s Paula Sherriff said the “horrendous” leaflets, which had gone to her constituents in Dewsbury, said Mrs Cox was wrong to help people who may go on to join Islamic State, also known as Isis.

The leaflet that was posted to people living in Dewsbury, near to Birstall where Labour MP Jo Cox was killed on June 16, accusing her of taking "misguided action" by "helping Muslims".

The leaflet that was posted to people living in Dewsbury, near to Birstall where Labour MP Jo Cox was killed on June 16, accusing her of taking "misguided action" by "helping Muslims".

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Mrs Cox was shot and stabbed in Birstall on June 16, a week before the EU referendum.

Former BNP member Jack Buckby is to contest the by-election in the Batley and Spen constituency Mrs Cox represented, despite commitments from the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Ukip not to field a candidate.

Home Office Minister Karen Bradley committed to meeting Ms Sherriff to discuss the “utterly unacceptable” leaflets and to look at what “specific action” can be taken against the BNP.

During Ms Bradley’s statement on hate crime, Ms Sherriff said: “Many members will be aware that my constituency sits right next door to Batley and Spen.

“Yesterday people in my constituency received a leaflet from the BNP saying Jo Cox took misguided action by helping Muslims in the country who may now go on to join Isis, alongside some other horrendous allegations.

“Then I have received a significant number of communications from constituents, one - a seven year-old Muslim girl - was told on Friday, I’ve removed the expletives from this for the purpose of this House, ‘it was the best day ever today, go home all of you’ to her and her family.

“And I am continuing to receive a number of similar incidents.

“I like many others, I am so proud to be British, but I am also proud to be the daughter of a mother who is half Polish.

“On Monday I asked the Prime Minister about establishing a cross-party commission to look at these race hate crimes and wonder if any progress has been made on that?

“Because the time to act isn’t tomorrow, next week or next month, it’s now.”

Ms Bradley replied: “I am shocked by what you say, I am sure the whole House is shocked.

“That is utterly, utterly unacceptable.

“I would like to meet you if you would allow and perhaps we can discuss a specific action being taken and make sure that any crimes such as those are reported and actions taken against them.”

David Cameron told the Commons that extra cash for security measures would be available as part of a fresh push to “drive appalling hate crimes” out of Britain.

The Prime Minister said a new action plan on tackling hate crime will be published soon while the Crown Prosecution Service will issue new guidance to prosecutors on racially aggravated crime.

Mr Cameron said: “These attacks are appalling and they need to stop and it’s right everyone in this House and everyone on all sides of the referendum debate utterly condemns them. That’s not what we do in Britain.

“Let me say I reassured prime ministers of countries, such as Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic, who are concerned about this issue at the meeting we had last night.

“So we do monitor these attacks and the Home Secretary gets regular reports.

“But I can tell the House we will be publishing a new action plan on tackling hate crime shortly to step up our response.

“We want new steps to boost reporting of hate crime and supporting victims, new CPS guidance to prosecutors on racially aggravated crime, a new fund for protective security measures at potentially vulnerable institutions and additional funding to community organisations so they can tackle hate crime.

“Whatever we can do we will do to drive these appalling hate crimes out of our country.”

Reports of hate crime have soared by 57% in the wake of the Brexit vote, according to the National Police Chiefs Council.

And many politicians have told of their shock and disgust at a spate of racist and xenophobic attacks.

Cards have been handed out outside homes and schools saying “No more Polish vermin”, a Muslim schoolgirl was cornered by group who shouted “Get out we voted leave” and a video has emerged of a group of teenagers shouting “get back to Africa” at a US army veteran from West Yorkshire on a Manchester tram.

Recounting these and other instances of abuse that have emerged in recent days, shadow home secretary Andy Burnham urged for more action to be taken to crack down on those peddling the “disturbing” views.

Speaking later in the House of Commons in response to an urgent Ministerial Statement on hate crime, he said: “Attacks on Muslim women and even reports of women on mobile phones speaking a foreign language being screamed at in the street.

“What is happening to the Britain that we have known? This isn’t taking our country back, this is turning Britain into a place we have never, ever been.

“Hate crime, by its very nature, is a rejection of the British values that have always bound us together. Non-British nationals living in Britain today will feel worried about their safety and in need of reassurance.”

He said: “It is only 10 days since we lost our wonderful friend and colleague Jo Cox. As the dust settles on the referendum we need to continue to have the words of her husband Brendan in the front of our minds - that hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.”

Addressing the Home Office minster Karen Bradley, he was cheered as he added: “Don’t you agree that 99% of the British public who voted to Leave did not vote for an intolerant, xenophobic ad racist Britain?

“And don’t both sides of this referendum campaign now need to unite to make sure Britain remains the open and welcoming place we know and love.”

Mr Burnham called for greater reassurance to be given to immigrants living in Britain and a “much more proactive case” to tackle far right extremism.

And he urged police and prosecutors to follow up “every single report of hate crime, to prosecute wherever possible and make sure perpetrators face the full force of the law”.

The BNP denied producing the leaflet distributed in Dewsbury and described it as a “black ops” fake.

In a statement, the party said: “Within the last hour we have just heard the alarming news that someone has posted inappropriate, but yet unseen or specified leaflets, to the neighbours of murdered MP Jo Cox.

“The media and MPs are openly attributing these leaflets to the BNP claiming that we delivered them.

“The British National Party did NOT produce or deliver any such leaflet.

“The BNP have notified the police insisting on a serious investigation using fingerprint and DNA technology to identify the perpetrators of this vicious act.

“Although I understand that this incident has and is understandably causing alarm, anger and distress it is also vital for the facts to be known before this unacceptable act is wrongly blamed on the British National Party.”

It went on: “Let me be clear, we have already stated that the murder of Jo Cox was outrageous and we find violence of any sort abhorrent, we also find this new affront disgraceful and we categorically deny any involvement in the production and distribution of this leaflet.

“Again, our thoughts and prayers go out to Jo Cox’s family as this recent outrage must be adding significantly to the already terrible pain.”

Thomas Mair, 52, from Birstall, has appeared at the Old Bailey charged with murdering Mrs Cox, grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of a knife.