Secret talks for anti race-hate supporters

News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian,, @LincsFreePress on Twitter
News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian,, @LincsFreePress on Twitter
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Anti race-hate campaigners met secretly in Spalding on Wednesday night to avoid being gate-crashed by far right group the English Defence League (EDL).

Meeting organisers Hope Note Hate published screen grabs of alleged racist posts on Facebook pages of three UKIP county councillors in May – including Spalding South Ward member Alan Jesson.

At that time, Hope Not Hate said it would hold a public meeting in Spalding on July 3 – keeping the venue under wraps until the last minute to avoid disruption from the EDL and British National Party (BNP).

Speaking before the meeting, Hope Not Hate boss Nick Wells defended his group’s private gathering for a dozen people in a local family’s house, saying the EDL were trying to find out where it was being held.

He said the EDL has turned up at six or seven of its meetings and in one case they had “20 people turn up trying to have a fight”.

Reporters were also barred from Hope Not Hate’s secret meeting in Spalding.

Nick Wells, the organisation’s director, said: “It’s actually something just for our supporters really.

“It’s at someone’s house. We have spoken to them and they are really concerned about having journalists there.

“It’s a private chat about trying to do something positive with our supporters.

“I have got to accept the wishes of the people who are hosting the event.

“This was a meeting asked for by local people who were keen for some help and some discussion about how they can do something positive.”

He said the Spalding meeting was listed after UKIP councillors were first elected to Lincolnshire County Council but that was not the sole reason.

“There’s been an increase in vocalising negative attitudes towards migrants – people are saying not everyone feels like that,” Mr Wells said.

Hope Not Hate was formed to oppose “the politics of hate” advocated by the EDL and BNP and Mr Wells says UKIP is not one of its targets.

It published comments on the three UKIP councillors’ Facebook pages after a story appeared in The Sunday Mirror.

Lincolnshire Police then started “information gathering” and appointed a detective inspector to look into the case.

Coun Alan Jesson claimed he and fellow UKIP councillors had their Facebook accounts hacked and the offensive comments were not theirs.

UKIP’s national leader, Nigel Farage, said then that some people had been trying to label his party as racist, but “it has never ever stuck and it won’t stick”.