Chairman of the British National Party, Nick Griffin, has signalled his party will change its whites-only membership policy because it cannot afford a legal fight over the issue.

Last month, the Equality and Human Rights Commission issued county court proceedings against the party because of its constitution and membership criteria, which it believes are illegal.

Its constitution currently states membership is “strictly defined within the terms of … ‘indigenous Caucasian’ and defined ethnic groups emanating from that race”.

Along with its views on race, the party also believes homosexuality should be kept behind closed doors and should not be “promoted”.

In a statement posted on the BNP’s website, Griffin said the party would have to adapt to “undemocratic Orwellian equality laws” or die.

“The [EHRC] move is a deadly serious threat to our very existence,” he wrote, adding that the costs of a hearing on Tuesday had already amounted to thousands of pounds for the party.

He said that pursuing the case all the way to the House of Lords could cost £1m, which would seriously hinder the BNP’s attempts to win seats in the next general election.

“I have no doubt that it is possible to redraft our constitution so as to ensure we comply with the new law while at the same time holding true to our core principles and most importantly of all, to our purpose – which is to secure a future for the true children of our islands,” Griffin wrote.

“By taking this as far as a court hearing, we have ensured that party unity will be maintained, because whatever steps we take, it is now crystal clear to all concerned that we simply do not have a choice.”

Redrafting the BNP’s constitution to accept ethnic minorities will require the approval of two-thirds of its members. The party will debate the issue over the coming weeks.

The case was scheduled to be heard on Wednesday but was adjourned when the BNP changed lawyers. The next hearing will be on October 15th.

The BNP won two seats in the European elections in June, its biggest political success to date.

Griffin won one seat in the north-west region, while the other went to Andrew Brons for Yorkshire and the Humber. The BNP will now receive £4 million of public funding.

In May PinkNews.co.uk exclusively reported that the BNP had drawn up a list of politicians from all three main parties describing a number of gay MPs as “buggers” and “criminals”, grouping them with convicted paedophiles.