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Last Updated: Monday, 10 March 2008, 11:14 GMT
Heroin photo used in BNP leaflet
Rachel Whitear
The image was initially released by Ms Whitear's parents
Parents of a heroin addict are to take legal action against the British National Party (BNP) for using a picture of their dead daughter.

Rachel Whitear, 21, was found dead at her flat in Exmouth, Devon, in May 2000, holding a capped syringe.

The photograph, released by her Herefordshire parents to educate people on drugs, was used by Lancashire BNP members on a leaflet.

The BNP's deputy leader said they would not apologise.

The leaflets, which were circulated in Preston, linked heroin use to Muslim communities.

'Pathetic parasite'

Ms Whitear's parents said they would not have given their consent for the image to be used by any political party and were especially concerned about the claims made in the leaflet.

Her stepfather, Mick Holcroft, told the BBC they were exploring the legal steps they can take through the courts.

Her mother Pauline Holcroft said: "Our biggest concern is that because they have printed Rachel's name on the front of the leaflet it looks to all intents and purposes as if we are backing it, as if we had given our consent.

"That is far from the truth."

Rachel Whitear
Rachel Whitear died of a drugs overdose an inquest has concluded

Mrs Holcroft added: "They refer to a heroin user as a nasty, pathetic parasite.

"I am sure that I'm not the only parents who has lost somebody through heroin who would argue that I didn't view Rachel in that way."

The BNP's deputy leader Simon Derby told BBC Hereford and Worcester he stood by the comments in the leaflet and did not believe it was wrong to use the photograph.

He said: "That image is in the public domain.

"There are legal frameworks saying there is nothing wrong with using a photograph that is in the public domain.

"I have quite a lot of respect for the parents for what they've done, because they've saved people's lives by releasing this picture.

"But no, we have nothing to apologise for. I am not going to...apologise for the truth."

A second inquest in September into Ms Whitear's death found she had died of a heroin overdose, but could not give a ruling on whether she had injected herself.

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