The far-right British National Party has been condemned for claiming in a leaflet that the murder of Bradford police officer Sharon Beshenivsky during a robbery was a racial attack.
The leaflets, distributed across the country, detailing more than 160 other claimed racist incidents, have been branded as a blatant attempt to incite racial hatred.
PC Beshenivsky was shot dead by robbers on November 18, 2005, outside a travel agency in Morley Street, Bradford.
Her widower Paul Beshenivsky said: “Sharon’s murder was not a racist attack and it should not be used in that way.
“These people are totally distorting the facts and just making it up. I was told about this by the Police Federation and both they and we are not at all happy about it.
“At the end of the day the call Sharon went to could have been responded to by anyone. It would not have mattered whether it had been an English, Asian or Polish officer who attended, this gang would have shot them.”
Tom McGhie, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, said: “It is appalling that the BNP would use the tragedy of Sharon Beshenivsky’s murder to try to further its own political agenda.
“I can’t imagine what the Beshenivsky family and Sharon’s colleagues would feel about her death being used in this manner.
“To relate the murder of Sharon to a racist attack is simply wrong. It was a crime carried out by violent criminals and this fact was highlighted at the court case. These were dangerous criminals prepared to use ultimate force.”
Bradford South Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Alison Rose said: “Sharon Beshenivsky died doing her duty trying to stop a robbery, there was not a racial motive to her death. It is unfortunate that the BNP have used her image to inaccurately portray a racist crime when in reality she died doing her job trying to stop crime.”
BNP spokesman Simon Darby defended the party’s tactics. “We are angered by the continued murder of white people,” he said. “We used exactly the same criteria as the Institute for Race Relations and if it had been an Asian police officer killed by white people it would have been classed as a racist attack. No-one ever criticises their statistics. This is a typical tactic of the left.”
But Paul Meszaros, of Bradford Hope Not Hate, said the leaflet was a cynical attempt to stir up hatred.
He said: “This is another attempt by the BNP to incite racial violence. They have deliberately twisted the facts to misrepresent the issue.”