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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 August, 2003, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Suspended BNP councillor fights back
Luke Smith celebrates winning a seat for the BNP in Burnley
Luke Smith has been banned from Burnley FC home games
A councillor who has been suspended by the British National Party (BNP) has admitted getting involved in a brawl at a recent event held by the far-right party.

But Luke Smith - who has already been banned from Burnley FC's Turf Moor ground - alleged he had been attacked first by one of the minders of the party's leader, Nick Griffin.

Councillor Smith - who represents the Lanehead ward and one of eight BNP councillors in the Lancashire town - has had the whip withdrawn by the party.

He is currently being investigated by the party's national leadership.

He told BBC Radio Lancashire that he had been provoked into getting involved in the fight at the party's Red, White and Blue event on Saturday in Sawley.

Internal row

He said: "I'm not only shocked but also disgusted at this decision.

"The reason is that, at the recent Red, White and Blue festival, I was accosted by one of Nick Griffin's minders. I retaliated and came off second.

"The leadership of the BNP have long been looking to discredit Burnley BNP.

"This is due to the fact that they have had no part to play in our success and they're not big enough to admit it."

Dr Phil Edwards, national BNP press officer, said Councillor Smith had abused a visitor from Hungary.

'Bizarre fantasy'

He added: "He's talking absolute rubbish. He misbehaved very badly.

BNP leader Nick Griffin said: "The idea that the party leadership wants to pick on its most successful branch is an obvious, most bizarre, fantasy.

"If the investigation concludes that there were no mitigating circumstances, that everyone's eye witness accounts tie up, as I think they will, then he will be expelled, at least that's what I will be asking for anyway.

"When people vote for a BNP councillor, they vote for, and are entitled to expect, a decent citizen who isn't into drunkenness and yobbery or anything else like that.

"We're not prepared to tolerate that kind of behaviour from anybody."

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