A TATTOOIST said to be the UK’s leading member of the Ku Klux Klan has revealed how he turned his back on the racist mob because his grandchildren are of mixed race.
Chris Hopgood, 51, claims he is not racist – despite admitting he tried to set up a UK branch of the Klan and is a supporter of the BNP.
He has now been “given advice” by police who visited him at his home following revelations in the national media about his background.
He agreed to give the Mail an exclusive interview from the tattoo parlour he runs with his wife in Easington Colliery after details of his past were revealed.
Today he said: “I’m not a racist. I’m a patriot.
“I have grandchildren that are mixed race so I turned my back on the Klan for the sake of my family.”
During a candid interview he claimed:
● He has nothing against any other colour or race;
● He does not believe in homosexuality;
● He is against illegal immigrants and others who refuse to contribute to his beloved country;
● And revealed the tattoos on his hands that were thought to be in support of the Klan are actually Rune for a biking term Ride Free.
Mr Hopgood moved to the North-East after meeting his wife of eight years on the internet.
They set up Greko Designs in Seaside Lane, Easington Colliery, where they run a successful tattoo and piercing parlour.
The pair have 12 children from previous relationships – but they only discovered Mr Hopgood’s affiliation with the world’s most racist group when pictures of him dressed in Klan ceremonial clothes and hood were shown in the Daily Mirror.
Biker Mr Hopgood was born in Aldershot, Hants, and worked most of his adult life as a builder, before embarking on his new venture when he met his wife.
He admits he has always held “unpopular views” – but was lured into the world of the KKK during a trip to the USA more than eight years ago.
He said: “I was introduced to some people who it turned out were Klan when I was on holiday.
“I went to a party which was some sort of a gathering.
“At first I was attracted to their principles, they were very family orientated, they had respect and honour, it was a brotherhood. They got in touch with some members in Germany. I got in touch and went to meet them in Berlin and the pictures of me in a cloak show me being knighted as a member.
“It was suggested I try to open a UK branch and I set up a website, but soon things began to get a bit more extreme.”
Mr Hopgood said senior Klan members began to dish out orders and when he became more exposed to their racist practices he stopped his involvement with the white-knights-kkk.co.uk website, which was recently taken off the internet.
He still kept in touch with members, but decided to cut off ties when his stepdaughter, who lives in the south of England, revealed she was expecting her first child to her Jamaican boyfriend.
He now has two grandchildren of mixed race, a boy and girl aged five and two, and he and his wife regularly babysit the children during visits.
During the interview his stepdaughter sent a text message joking about borrowing his KKK outfit for a Halloween party and signed off ‘Love you daddy’.
Mr Hopgood said he no longer has any of the robes and claims he has never had anything to do with the Klan for a number of years.
He proudly displayed his tattooed hands, which bear symbols which he says spell out the words Ride Free and not Klan as was portrayed in a national newspaper.
He admits he does have a Swastika on one of his biker jackets but said it was: “A biker thing.”
But he admitted he was still a supporter of the BNP and would vote for the party in an election.
He said: “I’m not racist. I’ve never been racist. I’m not against people of different colour or religions. I’m not religious but people can practice what they want to, I don’t find it offensive. What I am against is illegal immigrants who are allowed to come into this country I love and don’t work or make any contribution whatsoever.
“I think we should close our borders. In that light the BNP have some very good points of view.
“I’m also against people in this country who don’t make any contribution I’ve worked all my life, everyone is so quick to shout racism if you have pride in your country. I don’t think homosexuality is normal and people have said I’m racist when they hear my views, but what I say is don’t listen.”
Ironically, Mr Hopgood revealed his stepdaughter’s partner is trying to get a work visa in the UK.
He added: “He wants to work over here, I don’t have a problem with that. I love my grandchildren.
“I made a big mistake getting involved with the Klan and I regret that, but it was a mistake and it is in the past.”