A TATTOOIST, exposed as a UK leader of the Ku Klux Klan, today claimed he has turned his back on the racist mob.
Police have questioned Chris Hopgood, who admitted he tried to set up a UK branch of the Klan and is a supporter of the BNP.
But, speaking from the tattoo parlour he runs with his wife in Easington Colliery, the 51-year-old claimed: “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.”
The former builder moved to the North East after meeting his wife of eight years on the internet, and set up Greko Designs in Seaside Lane, Easington Colliery, after working in a parlour in Sunderland.
The pair have 12 children from previous relationships – but the siblings 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 a national newspaper.
Durham Police interviewed him over the allegations yesterday, but said: “At this stage it appears that no criminal offences have been committed.”
Biker Mr Hopgood, originally from Hampshire, admits he has always held “unpopular views,” but was lured into the world of the KKK during a trip to the U.S. more than eight years ago.
“I went to a party which was some sort of a gathering,” he said.
“At first I was attracted to their principles. They were very family orientated; it was a brotherhood.
“They put me 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 down.
He still kept in touch with members, but decided to cut off ties when his stepdaughter, who lives in the south of England, fell pregnant 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.
Mr Hopgood said he no longer has any of the KKK robes and claims he has not had anything to do with the Klan for years.
He insists tattoos on his hands spell out the words Ride Free and not Klan as was claimed in a national paper.
He admits he has a Swastika on one of his biker jackets but claimed it was “a biker thing”.
He added: “I’ve never been racist. I’m not against people of different colour or religions.
“I’m 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.
“People have said I’m racist when they hear my views, but what I say is don’t listen.”
He added: “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.”