LONDON (Reuters) - A former British National Party (BNP) member who leaked details of the far-right group’s membership on the Internet was fined 200 pounds on Tuesday for breaking data privacy laws.
Matthew Single, the party’s former deputy head of security, leaked names, addresses, occupations and email details of more than 10,000 BNP supporters in a blog last November.
The leak resulted in swastika daubings on BNP members’ homes and a torrent of hate mail.
Single, 37, admitted publishing the details at Nottingham Magistrates Court but charges against his wife Sadie Graham-Single were dropped, the Press Association reported.
“Anything that is posted on the internet has the effect of opening a Pandora’s box,” said Judge John Stobart.
“While there may be some members in this organisation who do not deserve to be protected by the law, they should be able to expect that officers within the organisation will not abuse the information provided to them.”
The judge said he and many in the BNP might be surprised that “to do something as foolish and as criminally dangerous” as Single had done could only incur a financial penalty.
“It comes as no surprise to me that somebody to do with an organisation that prides itself on Britishness is in fact living off the British people on Job Seeker’s Allowance and that is why the fine is so low as to be ridiculous,” he said.
Former police officers, teachers and soldiers were among those who appeared on the leaked details.
One serving Merseyside police officer was sacked in March after his name was found to be on the list. Police have been prohibited since 2004 from promoting the BNP or being a member of the party.
The investigation was launched after BNP leader Nick Griffin made a formal complaint to his local police force.
Detective Sergeant Chris Reynolds of Dyfed-Powys Police said he was disappointed with the verdict.
“There was pretty serious stuff after what happened. People were fearful for their safety,” he said.
“There was an arson attack on a vehicle, there were daubings and malicious communications. White powder was also put through people’s letterboxes purporting to be anthrax and there were daubings of swastikas on garage doors and on homes.”
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.