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Queen Elizabeth bars far-right leader from garden party

By the CNN Wire Staff
On July 20, Queen Elizabeth talks to guests at Buckingham Palace -- she later withdrew a party invitation to Nick Griffin.
On July 20, Queen Elizabeth talks to guests at Buckingham Palace -- she later withdrew a party invitation to Nick Griffin.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Nick Griffin calls the ban an attack on democracy and uses it for fundraising
  • The British National Party leader "blatantly politicized" his invitation, Buckingham Palace says
  • He asked readers of his website what he should say to the queen if, by some "blunder," he met her
  • He was convicted of inciting racial hatred but his sentence was suspended
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London, England -- Britain's Queen Elizabeth II withdrew the invitation of a far-right politician to her garden party Thursday after he "blatantly politicized" it, Buckingham Palace said.

Nick Griffin, the controversial leader of the British National Party, was among thousands of guests due to attend one of the queen's three annual summer garden parties at Buckingham Palace.

He was invited because he is an elected member of the European Parliament -- and disinvited because his politicizing the invitation "increased the security threat and the potential discomfort" to other guests, Buckingham Palace said.

The palace said Griffin "overtly used his personal invitation for party political purposes through the media."

The BNP leader called the withdrawal of the invitation an "attack on democracy, the media, freedom of speech and one million British patriots."

He said the reason given for the reversal was "invented nonsense" and that citing "natural media interest" in him to cancel the invitation was "a disgusting disregard for democracy in Britain."

And he warned that "blatant attempts at gagging the BNP always backfires (sic)."

Griffin posted the statement on the BNP website and e-mailed it to supporters as a fundraising solicitation.

He had said a day earlier that he would be attending the party "for the 1 million British patriots who now vote for this party despite all the hate from the media liars, the old parties and their thuggish far-left allies."

He asked readers of the BNP website for their suggestions about what he should say to the Queen "if -- presumably due to some ghastly blunder by a courtier -- I actually meet her?"

Griffin was elected to the European Parliament last year along with another BNP member. It was the first time members of the far-right party had won European elections.

He campaigned for a seat in Britain's parliament earlier this year -- hoping to become the first British National Party member of Parliament -- but he came in third in his constituency.

The possibility that Griffin would attend a royal garden party last year caused outrage. Another BNP member who had been invited said he would bring Griffin as a guest, but Griffin said he would not attend following the outcry.

Griffin was convicted of inciting racial hatred in 1998, a London court official said. He was ordered to serve nine months in prison, a sentence that was suspended for two years, the court official added.

He was elected leader of the BNP the following year and re-elected in 2007, according to the party.

Queen Elizabeth hosts at least three garden parties every summer at Buckingham Palace as a way to reward and recognize public service. About 8,000 people attend each one, the palace says.

People are invited on the recommendation of local and national organizations, which are given a quota of tickets, the palace explained.

CNN's Lianne Turner and Melissa Gray contributed to this report.