Police were called after reports that mourners were hurling objects off a Burnley bridge following the funeral of a former BNP councillor.
Officers arrived at the Yorkshire Street bridge at 9pm on Tuesday after being told around 40 youths were causing a disturbance. The mourners had attended the funeral of Luke Smith, 26, of Brunshaw Road, who was found dead last week, police said. The convicted football hooligan, who was forced to resign as a councillor after continued allegations of violence, was said to have been suffering from psychological problems when he appeared in court earlier this month charged with assault.
Sgt Phil Carter, of Burnley police, said: “Police dispersed the group on Tuesday soon after arriving and no arrests were made.”
It is believed the mourners had been drinking in the Lounge pub, in nearby Higgin Street, following Mr Smith’s funeral. Yesterday a large banner was hung from a bridge in Yorkshire Street with the message “Luke Smith lives forever”.
Speaking last week, Mr Smith’s uncle, Steve Smith, who was the BNP leader in Burnley when his nephew was elected, and is now leader of the far-right England First party, said: “He was a lovely, lovely lad who, like a lot of people, was just too sensitive to exist in what is effectively an extremely cruel world. Things had gone downhill for him.”
Mr Smith was 21 when he was elected as councillor for Lanehead ward, in May 2003. But he was suspended from the BNP less than three months later, after it emerged previous football-related violence had earned him a lifetime ban from Turf Moor, and he was alleged to have been fighting at the party’s Red, White and Blue festival in Sawley in July that year.
In September 2004, after a full investigation by the Standards Board for England, he was banned for three years from becoming a member of any council across the UK.
Earlier in 2004, the former gas engineer had been given a two-and-a-half year football banning order, and he was jailed for 11 months in March 2006, after breaching the order and being involved in football-related violence in Manchester, Blackpool and Burnley. His football banning order was extended to six years.
In his latest court appearance, on July 14, he was charged with assault after an attack on the landlord of the Princess Royal – the pub near where he was found dead.