Twelve men were arrested today on suspicion of distributing racist material in a city centre, police said.
The men were arrested after distributing leaflets at around 12.50pm in Whitechapel, Liverpool city centre.
Merseyside Police said those arrested were: a 29-year-old and a 51-year-old from the Liverpool South area; a 64 year-old from the Wirral area; a 19 year-old; a 46-year-old and a 41-year-old from Liverpool North; a 61-year-old and a 42-year-old from Knowsley; a 70-year-old; a 44 year-old; and a 29-year-old and a 48-year-old from St Helens.
Merseyside Police Assistant Chief Constable Colin Matthews said: “Merseyside Police condemns racism in all of its forms and will take prompt action to support all of our communities.
“Merseyside Police today arrested 12 people on suspicion of distribution of racist material.
“This follows the distribution of leaflets in Liverpool city centre, which officers believe to contain racist content.
“Racist literature is not welcome on the streets of Merseyside in any circumstances.
“We serve many communities in Merseyside and it is important that all our communities are assured that we will take positive action where it is needed.”
The men have been taken to Merseyside police stations where they will be questioned about the incident.
A police source said tonight the arrests were linked to the British National Party (BNP).
The organiser of the Blackpool and Oldham branches of the BNP, Roy Goodwin, confirmed 12 members of the party had been arrested.
He said: “I understand 12 of our members have been arrested distributing official party leaflets in Merseyside.
“There was nothing unlawful in the leaflets - all the contents of the leaflets had been carefully vetted, or they would not have gone out.”