Controversy over abuse conviction of BNP candidate

The lead BNP candidate for Yorkshire in tomorrow's European elections was once convicted of abusive chanting that included calling a ethnic minority police officer an "inferior being", it can be revealed.

Andrew Brons was fined 50 by Leeds magistrates in 1984 for using insulting words and behaviour after a confrontation with police when he was leader of the far-right group the National Front.

The 61-year-old, who was 37 at the time, was also found guilty of acting in a manner calculated to blemish the peace.

Mr Brons, then a politics lecturer at Harrogate College, was leading a group of supporters leafleting in Leeds city centre in October 1983. A shop assistant heard them shouting "National Front" and saw clenched-fist salutes, while a policeman heard other slogans including "white power" and "death to Jews".

PC John Raj, the area's community constable and of Malaysian-origin, told the group to disperse after elderly shoppers voiced their fears. But when he asked Mr Brons to leave, the politician said: "I am aware of my legal rights. Inferior beings like

yourself probably do not appreciate the principle of free speech."

Since being chosen as the BNP's lead candidate in this week's elections, Mr Brons has attempted to skirt over his controversial past. He denied the allegations at the time and last night continued to claim he had not made any abusive statements.

But Mr Raj's evidence was accepted over that of Mr Brons by both Leeds magistrates and a Leeds Crown Court judge who heard an appeal.

Last night Mr Brons said: "I would not have said anything that would have jeopardised my employment at Harrogate College, which lasted from 1970 to 2005. "I categorically denied the allegations at the time which were clearly absurd."

But Denis MacShane, the Labour MP for Rotherham and author of a recent book on anti-semitism, said: "How much more proof is needed of the Nazi antecedents of the BNP?

"The obsession of BNP candidates with Jews and the denial of the Holocaust should not be rewarded on Thursday."