A DISTRICT councillor who spoke up for the right of a Muslim group to use a community hall claims to have been harassed and threatened by BNP supporters.

Independent Roding Ward councillor Stephen Murray said he had been verbally intimated and threatened with a dog by youths after he spoke out against a BNP leaflet claiming the Murray Hall had been turned into a mosque by a prayer group.

He said: “I had just entered the recreation ground around 4.30 in the afternoon. I passed a teenager I didn't recognise with his dog. As I went past he threatened to set his dog on me. He was clearly a BNP supporter. He was shouting pro BNP slogans at me. It was a clear threat.

“A couple of days after that I was spotted by a group of six or seven youths in their teens or early 20s who personally abused me shouting across the fields at me. They were saying 'You should apologise. You got it wrong.'

“They said very personal, vile swearing at me. Really awful personal abuse. I've never had that in 28 years of being a local school teacher.”

Mr Murray said the incidents must be linked to him speaking out about a Muslim prayer group which rents the Murray Hall, in Borders Lane, on Friday afternoons.

The groups is led by Noor Ramjanally who was recently arrested by Essex Police and charged with perverting the course after alleging he had been kidnapped at knifepoint.

Mr Murray said: “It was about the Murray Hall without a shadow of a doubt. Because I've defended the right of local people to rent it out I'm subjected to this. They think I'm bullying them for what did or didn't happen to Mr Ramjanlly.”

The councillor also attacked a local unofficial BNP website which has written an online article attacking his views and describing him as “The despicable Cllr Murray”.

He said: “There's certainly something going on. It's the first time they've criticised me directly. It just show what their supporters are prepared to do.”

Mr Murray said he was awaiting a police visit to pursue the incidents.

A spokesman for the Epping Forest branch of the BNP said: "Mr Murray is a well-known anti-BNP figure locally. There's no reason why people should shout at him. If they're shouting pro-BNP slogans that's nothing to do with us. We don't condone in any shape or form violence or aggressive behaviour.”