UKIP’s Andrew Charalambous apologises for use of poppy on election flyer; Tory chairman claims its use was ‘ill-judged’



UKIP Parliamentary candidate Andrew Charalambous apologised today for an election flyer that used an image of a poppy.

Mr Charalambous said he used a poppy in the same way as other emblems were used by others not realising it could be taken to represent the Royal British Legion poppy.

He said he had apologised immediately and “obviously I don’t want to offend anyone and particularly not a hard working organisation such as the Royal British Legion”

He insisted UKIP was “not claiming ownership” of the poppy and he had a long and established record of supporting servicemen and their families. Earlier Councillor Steve Tierney, chairman of Wisbech Conservatives, had criticised the use of a poppy on the flyer.

Cllr Tierney, also a town and district councillor, wrote on his blog that “it is not appropriate to abuse the poppy as a cheap local political gimmick”.

He described the advertisement – which also made reference to the Scottish National Party- as “rotten, disrespectful and desperately ill-judged”.

Mr Charalambous used the image in a 4 page election ‘wrap’ published in the Fenland Citizen and Ely Weekly News to promote his campaign.

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The poppy, displayed prominently on the front of the wrap, was published next to a photo of UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

The Royal British Legion said use of the poppy was “wholly unacceptable” and emphasised it was a registered trade mark and not available or to be used in political campaign.

A UKIP spokesman told the BBC: “Mr Charalambous is embarrassed and deeply apologetic that he used the Royal British Legion poppy in his advertisement.

“A member of the Royal British Legion for many years, he apologises profusely. He is adamant he will not do so again.

The Royal British Legion described the poppy as “entirely non-political, non-partisan and non-sectarian and its use in this context is entirely unacceptable.

“The Legion red poppy is the registered trademark and device of The Royal British Legion and its only lawful use is in the support of our charity and the Poppy Appeal.

“We will take all necessary steps to ensure that this does not happen again.”

The front page flyer carried the headline ‘don’t let their sacrifice be in vain” beneath a poppy image and a photo of Mr Farage.

Mr Charalambous is also contesting a seat on Fenland District Council for the Roman Bank ward and in Wisbech he is a town council candidate for Medworth.