I AM appalled that the Kidderminster Shuttle has published an advert on behalf of the British National Party, not only in its print edition but also prominently on the front page of its website.

That Newsquest, the American-owned company that publishes the Shuttle, could stoop so low as to accept cash from a fringe racist political party is extremely worrying.

The BNP’s views and values are designed to isolate certain sections of our community, bring fear to their lives and to incite hatred against them. A sizeable number of leading BNP activists have convictions for a variety of offences, including their leader Nick Griffin.

They like to create a public façade to the voters that they are just ordinary people with extreme but lawful policies. But in private the mask slips and all the vile racist poison comes out.

What is particularly worrying about the Shuttle giving the BNP an uncritical platform to promote itself is that it serves to bring down the good name of a reputable newspaper, while at the same time helping to instil fear among some parts of the community in which the paper circulates.

The BNP are fundamentally undemocratic because they use bullying tactics against opponents and seek to intimidate journalists that scrutinise and challenge their activities. The names of NUJ members who have done so, have appeared on right wing websites associated with the BNP, such as Red Watch, giving personal details and inviting them to be attacked.

These adverts are also harmful to the newspaper in other ways. The online front page ad links the Shuttle directly to the BNP’s own website with all its crazy outpourings and also carries a video of Nick Griffin.

This potentially harms the standing with which the paper’s journalists are viewed within the wider community when they carry out their professional duties.

It could also have the effect of driving away other, respectable advertisers who would not want to be associated with this sort of media. Ultimately, this crass decision to allow the adverts could cost more jobs among our hard-hit members.

I urge you to take the online ad off immediately and stop any further advertising, print or online, by the BNP. Failure to do so will severely undermine the paper’s long-term reputation.

CHRIS MORLEY North & Midlands Organiser National Union of Journalists