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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 06:11 GMT 07:11 UK
Call to sack BNP fireman rejected
Ian Johnson
Mr Johnson used his firefighter position in his election campaign
Hampshire fire service has said it will not sack a retained leading fireman who stood as a BNP candidate in last week's European elections.

Calls for Ian Johnson to be sacked have been made by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) which says the BNP's ideas are against those of the fire service.

The FBU also claimed Mr Johnson used his fire service role in his election campaign, which was unsuccessful.

The fire service said Mr Johnson, from Brockenhurst, was not breaking the law.

Do you think the public are going to refuse to be rescued because the firefighter is a member of the BNP?
Dr Phil Edwards, BNP spokesman

In a letter last Friday, Dean Mills, FBU executive council member, wrote to Hampshire fire chiefs calling for the dismissal of Mr Johnson, who works part time in a senior role at Brockenhurst fire station.

The letter said the FBU had been alerted to Mr Johnson's election campaign by a member of the public.

It said: "The BNP have several policies which conflict with the dignity policies and practices of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service."

'Dignity and diversity'

But Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service says Mr Johnson's political views are legal and have had no effect on his role as a leading firefighter during his 30-year career.

David Askew, spokesman for the service, told BBC News Online: "He hasn't broken any rules and he's not tried to recruit or force his political views on to his staff.

"The FBU are demanding we sack him but it is not grounds for dismissal."

He said all employees, whatever their private political views, were expected to abide by the fire service's fairness, dignity and diversity policy.

"In turn we recognise that in a free and democratic society our employees are entitled to belong to and campaign for any lawful political party," Mr Askew said.

Roy Goring, spokesman for the FBU southern region, told BBC News Online the union's position was unchanged and that they would be calling for a meeting with Hampshire fire chiefs next week.

'Villains of the piece'

He said: "If somebody believes like that [BNP policies], then if any members of the service who have partners who belong to ethnic minorities, we can't be sure they [the firefighters] will be treated correctly if they meet that person at a fire or in the station."

Mr Mills told BBC News Online: "It's quite clear that the actions of the BNP do create an environment of intimidation."

Dr Phil Edwards, spokesman for the BNP, said the FBU's treatment of Mr Johnson, 53, who could not be contacted, was a disgrace.

He told BBC News Online: "The people who want him to be sacked are not the general public and I don't think his colleagues do - it's just the trade union - they're the villains of the piece.

"Do you think the public are going to refuse to be rescued because the firefighter is a member of the BNP?

"I should imagine his colleagues have nothing against him whatsoever."





LINKS TO MORE HAMPSHIRE/DORSET STORIES


 

SEE ALSO:
BNP leaflet under investigation
14 Jun 04  |  Gloucestershire
Christians urged not to vote BNP
03 Jun 04  |  Manchester
BNP forced to edit election film
29 May 04  |  Politics


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