Footage used to raise money
Grieving Jessica Deans has blasted the BNP for using a photo of her fiancé's coffin to plug their hateful policies. The picture - taken at the funeral of marine Liam Elms - appears in an online video to drum up election support for the far-right party. But Jessica branded it an outrage - and his family insist the fallen hero would have raged against the BNP's loathsome views.
Corporal Liam, 26, was killed by a roadside bomb while battling the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Jessica, a 22-year-old nurse, said: "I find it an outrage that an image of Liam's coffin on the day of his funeral is being used as propaganda for the BNP's personal gain."
And Liam's father Michael, 51, said: "We haven't give our permission for them to use any coverage of Liam's funeral on this video. It's out of order that the picture has been put in the public domain and for the BNP to use it for political gain is not on. It feels like an easy way for the BNP to get people involved in their party and to make money."
The video has been watched thousands of times since it was put on the BNP website and YouTube last week. Party leader Nick Griffin shamelessly uses it in a plea for cash to bolster his election fund. The photo shows Liam's coffin - draped in a Union Flag - being carried by three comrades.
Griffin, who was filmed in front of a portrait of Winston Churchill, describes the Afghan conflict as "a ludicrous no-win war" and pledges to end British involvement. And as Liam's coffin flashes on screen, he says: "We need our coffers filled so we can afford to fight every single seat we should be fighting up and down the country."
But Liam's dad - who also served in the forces - said: "I'm angry with the BNP because what they are saying is the complete opposite of what Liam wanted. Liam's last words to me were, 'I'm where I want to be, doing what I want to do with the people I want to be with. Don't worry'."
Michael added: "Any party that says the troops should be brought out without any power being in place to look after local Afghans is going against what our boys are fighting for."
Liam died on New Year's Eve 2008 on patrol in Helmand with 45 Commando and Afghan troops. The photo used by the BNP was taken at his funeral last January - when he was hailed a "true patriot". Hundreds of mourners packed St Joseph's church in his home town of Wrightington, Lancs, and more than 150 had to wait outside.
Liam's mum Maureen, 52, said: "I would love all the soldiers in Afghanistan to come home safe. But they have chosen to do a job out there and they will stay until the Afghans are safe."
Liam's family are asking people who want to help British troops to support legitimate charities such as Help For Heroes, the Royal Marine Benevolent Fund and the British Legion - not the BNP. His sister Rachael, 28, has raised £20,000 for Help For Heroes by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. And she plans to raise more in a 900-mile London-Geneva bike ride - www.justgiving.com/rachael-elms - this year.
The BNP tried to play down the row over Liam's coffin. An official said: "The picture was intended to be representative of a problem we're trying to give our view on - it is not homing in on an individual. No offence was intended to the family."
Note: The People made a donation to the British Legion at the Elms' request for their interviews.