Born in Barnet, Griffin was educated at Woodbridge School in Suffolk. He joined the National Front at the age of fourteen and, following his graduation from the University of Cambridge, became a political worker for the party. In 1980 he became a member of its governing body, and later wrote articles for several right-wing magazines. He was the National Front's candidate for the seat of Croydon North West in 1981 and 1983, but left the party in 1989. In 1995 he joined the BNP and in 1999 became its leader. He stood as the party's candidate in several elections and became a member of the European Parliament for North West England in the 2009 European elections.
In 1998 Griffin was convicted of distributing material likely to incite racial hatred, for which he received a suspended prison sentence. In 2006 he was acquitted of separate charges of inciting racial hatred.
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