A TEACHER has won a legal battle with the UK Independence Party (UKIP) over an attempt to use his former membership of the British National Party to expel him.
Judge Peter Fox ruled that UKIP and the party’s Stockton branch chairman Gordon Parkin acted unlawfully when they tried to throw out member Alan Hardy.
The High Court in Middlesbrough heard how Mr Hardy, the branch’s former press officer, was initially expelled after falling out with Mr Parkin, who stood for UKIP in the Stockton North constituency at the last general election.
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In his ruling, which declared Mr Hardy’s expulsion as null and void, Judge Fox summed up the relationship between the two men.
He said Mr Hardy, from Stockton, accused Mr Parkin of being “incompetent, dishonest and self-seeking”, while Mr Parkin accused Mr Hardy of being dishonest and so disruptive that it was impossible for the branch to function.
The row came to a head when Mr Hardy asked Mr Parkin to resign as branch chairman.
An argument between the two men resulted in UKIP Stockton branch being temporarily banned from the venue it used for meetings.
In September last year, Mr Parkin wrote to Mr Hardy saying he should no longer attend branch meetings.
In January, when Mr Hardy tried to renew his membership, Judge Fox found that UKIP general secretary Jonathan Arnott contrived to exclude him from the party on the grounds that he was a former BNP member, despite party leaders being aware of his past when he joined.
Mr Hardy, from Stockton, who is teaching English as a foreign language in Saudi Arabia, last night welcomed the ruling.
He said: “This has been about accountability. Gordon Parkin, aided by the UKIP hierarchy, now knows he cannot treat those who may disagree with him like dirt.
“Indeed, in light of the outcome of this case, I think he should do the decent thing and resign his membership.”
UKIP executive chairman Steve Crowther told The Northern Echo that the party was very unhappy with the judgement and would be reviewing its position.
He said: “UKIP is a tolerant, inclusive and non-sectarian organisation and it is important to our members that those values are maintained.”