Page last updated at 18:17 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 19:17 UK

Stoke BNP councillor in Nazi salute photograph

Image of Stoke-on-Trent councillor Steve Batkin with men petforming Nazi salute in either 2002 or 2003
Councillor Steve Batkin (right, holding flag) is governor at two Stoke-on-Trent schools

A photograph has emerged of a BNP councillor pictured with three men giving a Nazi salute standing next to a war memorial.

Steve Batkin is a councillor at Stoke-on-Trent City Council and is also a governor at two secondary schools.

The image, taken in 2002 in Stone, shows Mr Batkin and saluting far-right activists with a union jack.

Mr Batkin said the men were expressing their "rebelliousness" but admitted the image was "regrettable".

The BNP said it rejected fascists and the "fascist cultists" who for many years had tried to take over control of the party.

The photograph was recently given to the BBC.

Smiling pose

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has called for Mr Batkin to resign his school governorships and stand down from his council post.

South Staffordshire Royal British Legion manager Peter Smith said he viewed the photograph with "revulsion".

Councillor Steve Batkin
Mr Batkin told the BBC the men were expressing "their rebelliousness"

"Three-hundred-and-twenty-six thousand servicemen and women died in World War II so that we wouldn't have Nazi salutes on the streets of Britain."

The picture was taken while Mr Batkin was campaigning to win a seat on the city council.

Mr Batkin told the BBC the men were members of a "blood and honour" group sympathetic to the BNP but not officially linked.

Two of the men are now dead, he said.

"When the picture was shot, I don't know exactly whether they're going to do a fascist salute or not," Mr Batkin explained.

"It would have been better they didn't. But the fact is they did express their rebelliousness."

Asked about his smiling pose, Mr Batkin added: "Yes, they are good, sound patriotic people."

Mr Batkin is a governor at Edensor Technology College and Mitchell High School, both in Stoke-on-Trent.

A council spokesman said: "Schools have their own code of conduct for their governors, and the decision whether or not to suspend a governor rests with the school."

Michael Coleman, a spokesman for the Stoke-On-Trent BNP branch, said: "Membership conditions of the BNP bar association with people who behave in a way that our people, the British people, would find offensive.

"This includes wearing fascist emblems or behaving in a way that would harm the reputation of the party."

Because of the age of the photograph, Mr Coleman said he thought it would be sufficient to remind members at the next meeting that fascist associations were unwelcome, but to take no further action.

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