LONDON — The good name of the Armed Forces is in danger of being tarnished by far right extremists, former generals warned in a letter on Tuesday.
The letter -- signed by four military heavyweights including General Sir Mike Jackson and General Sir Richard Richard Dannatt -- is aimed at the British National Party, which has used military symbols and pictures of Winston Churchill in recent election campaigns.
The letter states: "We call on all those who seek to hijack the good name of Britain's military for their own advantage to cease and desist.
"The values of these extremists -- many of whom are essentially racist -- are fundamentally at odds with the values of the modern British military, such as tolerance and fairness."
The BNP hit back, questioning why the signatories of the letter were silent on the matter of MP's expenses.
A BNP spokesman said: "It is rather strange that they said nothing when MPs were embezzling millions of pounds on furnishing their homes whilst our boys were being blown to smithereens because of a lack of funding for equipment."
General Jackson, speaking to the Times, mentioned the BNP by name when asked about the letter.
"The BNP is claiming that it has a better relationship with the Armed Forces than other political parties. How dare they use the image of the army, in particular, to promote their policies. These people are beyond the pale," he said.
It is not the first time the BNP has been attacked over its use of symbols.
BNP leader Nick Griffin, who is often photographed wearing a poppy badge, has been repeatedly asked by the Royal British Legion to stop wearing the badge, which he has refused to do.
Today's letter from the four military leaders comes as Griffin prepares to make his first, highly controversial, appearance on BBC1's Question Time this Thursday.
Griffin is due to take part in the show alongside Justice Secretary Jack Straw, US playwright Bonnie Greer, Conservative peer Baroness Warsi and Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne.