UK

Britain First Attack The 'Right-Wing' Media After Lynda Bellingham Facebook Row

24/10/2014 14:31 BST | Updated 24/10/2014 15:59 BST

Far-right group Britain First have announced they will be encouraging their "millions" of followers to boycott the Daily Mail and The Sun.

The newspapers accused the pseudo-militia organisation of using the death of actress Lynda Bellingham to boost support for its Facebook page.

Now, the group has threatened to launch an attack on the journalists responsible.

Files released by advocacy group Hope Not Hate suggest that as many as 2 million people could be interacting with Britain First content online each day, including their "patriotic" pictures of soldiers, Union Jacks and... puppies. Many do not realise they are interacting with the extreme right.

How The Sun reported the Britain First Facebook story

Now, the group self-described as “a patriotic political party and street defence organisation” has come under fire for posting an image of the actress beneath the caption: “RIP actress Lynda Bellingham. Britain First”.

The post received over 6,000 likes and over 500 shares, but the comments were littered with users querying the group's motives behind the post.

“She would be furious to know Britain First had used her memory to get likes and draw attention to their hate-filled home page," one wrote.

Britain First’s page has almost 500,000 “likes” - making it more popular than the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats, and arguably making it the UK's biggest political Facebook site.

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Members of the right-wing group Britain First

Hope Not Hate claim that, behind the social media facade, the group has links to far-right protestant extremism and Northern Irish terrorism.

Britain First furiously attacked the Mail and Sun in a Facebook post today, calling for their "40 million" viewers to boycott the papers.

britain first

The Sun, in return, has urged its readers to boycott the group's Facebook posts.

A spokesman for the paper told The Huffington Post UK: "The Sun stands by its story today which we feel is a rigorous expose of an organisation promoting extremist views."

Britain First are notorious for their money making tactics, with former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson previously telling the Huffington Post UK that the group is a "business."

Following the release of the damning Rotherham report, which revealed more than 1,400 children in Rotherham were abused over a period of 16 years by "mainly Asian men," branches Britain First staged rallies and tried to flog their money-making merchandise.

The group is currently in trouble with the Government over its merchandise after a Cabinet Office spokesman told HuffiPost UK they had not been authorised to use the symbol of the Royal Crown.

britain first

Some of the available Britain First merchandise

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The recent findings of the Rotherham inquiry, along with the crisis in Iraq and Syria are fuelling increased hate crime towards Muslims, a government adviser on right-wing extremism recently said.

"This is one of the most worrying periods in right-wing extremism, given the growth in right-wing groups and the recent news events which are making them more angry," the anonymous expert claimed.

The adviser, who works with the the Home Office's Prevent strategy, warned that the government is wrongly putting an emphasis on the "global jihadist agenda," while possibly ignoring the growth of the far-right at home.