Army chiefs are investigating allegations that soldiers posed with English Defence League flags after Blackburn's ‘homecoming’ parade.
The Ministry of Defence has been handed a dossier of pictures purporting to be of soldiers with material from the organisation. One of the Blackburn photos is being studied to see whether one, or more, soldiers are posing with, or endorsing, a flag representing the right-wing EDL. Other pictures taken elsewhere show a serviceman, with his face covered and holding a gun, standing in front of an EDL flag.
Troops are banned by the MoD from taking an ‘active role in political campaigning’.
A spokeswoman said: “Instances of unacceptable behaviour in the armed forces are investigated, and appropriate action taken, up to, and including, dismissal. An investigation is already under way into allegations that individuals have breached army regulations through their involvement with the EDL.”
Last December’s march by Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment soldiers through Blackburn attracted thousands of well-wishers and followed a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. The event also attracted scores of EDL protesters who carried banners and flags. Some of the photos taken are now being investigated by army chiefs.
An MoD source said: “There’s a group of soldiers and an EDL flag and it is hard to tell whether a civilian, or a soldier, is holding it.”
Blackburn with Darwen EDL spokesman Ned Kelly said: “Some soldiers are involved with the EDL for their own reasons, but they should be free to be able to do so.”
Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “These are serious allegations and it is correct that the MoD should investigate them.”