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The British National Party (BNP) has effectively been declared dead after the Electoral Commission removed the far-right group from its register. The watchdog made the move because the anti-immigrant activists failed to confirm the party's registration details, as is required by law.
"The BNP's statement of accounts was due on 7 July 2015. Their annual confirmation of registered details was therefore due on or before 7 January 2016. The Electoral Commission did not receive the notification by this date and is required by law to remove the BNP from its register of political parties in Great Britain," a statement from the Electoral Commission explained.
The decision means BNP candidates are banned from using the party's name, descriptions or emblems on the ballot paper at elections. But the 34-year-old party can apply with the Electoral Commission to re-register the party.
"The party registration process can take a few weeks. We publish all applications on our website first for 10 days for public consultation and then the application is assessed against the statutory tests outlined in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA)," an Electoral Commission spokesman told IBTimes UK.
The BNP peaked between 2009 and 2010 when the far-right group won two seats in the European Parliament, including the election of former chairman Nick Griffin as MEP for North West England, and the party won a record 563,743 votes at the 2010 General Election.
But the BNP went into decline after a number of far-right groups splintered off from the organisation and Eurosceptic party Ukip increased its gains at the ballot box.
The development comes after Britain First, which is led by former BNP Councillor Paul Golding, topped the Electoral Commission's league table for small parties at the end of 2014. The watchdog revealed that the nationalists registered an income of almost £160,000 ($223,975) over the year.
Meanwhile, German anti-Islam group Pegida has recently launched in the UK. The organisation's new leader Paul Weston told IBTimes UK that he wants the group to become the "respectable" face of a mass anti-immigration movement in Britain.
UPDATE: 9 January
A BNP spokesperson said: "Clerical error of misplaced £25 registration fee has catapulted the BNP into the headlines.
"Re-registration is in progress – it's a simple process which only current BNP national officials are allowed to make within a two year period from now:
"Under Section 33 (4) of PPERA, the British National Party's identity markers, name, descriptions and emblems are protected until the 31st December 2017.
"This means that the Electoral Commission will not consider applications from other parties to register the same or similar name, description, and emblems during that period except applications by the British National Party in its current format."
"Far from being a matter for concern, the media interest in this easily corrected, technical oversight proves how relevant and news worthy the BNP is. All members, supporters and voters can rest assured that it is business as normal for the BNP.
"Now we're looking forward to the GLA, Welsh Assembly, and Local Elections throughout the country in May."
In a separate statement, a BNP spokesperson added: "[The BNP is] still the largest and indeed only main Nationalist political party in British politics.
"In addition to this the British National Party even though very temporarily not registered with the electoral commission still exists as a political movement in our legal format of an unincorporated association and to declare us as "dead" and then in the same article mention PEGIDA, which is most definitely not registered with the commission and reported no income last year is simply disingenuous."