The UKIP parliamentary candidate for North East Cambridgeshire has apologised after being accused of using the Remembrance Day poppy for “crass partisan ends”.
Andrew Charalambous used the image in election flyers which implied that letting the Scottish National Party into the UK government would invalidate the sacrifices of World War dead.
It also featured in a four-page ‘wrap’ published on the front of this newspaper and in an advert in the Ely News as part of his campaign ahead of next month’s elections.
Mr Charalambous’ use of the poppy image sparked outrage locally, with councillor Steve Tierney, chairman of Wisbech Conservatives, describing it as a “cheap political gimmick” and one of the “lowest and most nasty pieces of local politics” he had ever seen.
The Royal British Legion said the poppy, which is sold every year in advance of Remembrance Day, is a registered trademark which should not be used in a political campaign.
A charity spokesman said the poppy’s only lawful use was to support the RBL and the poppy appeal.
He added: “The poppy is entirely non-political, non-partisan, and non-sectarian, and its use in this context is entirely unacceptable. We will take all necessary steps to ensure this does not happen again.
“We greatly regret and deplore that the universal symbol of valour and sacrifice has been tainted for crass partisan ends by this electoral candidate.”
The advert read: “All the polls point to a hung Parliament. Vote to give UKIP the balance of power not the Scottish National Party.”
It also read: “Don’t let their sacrifice be in vain” with the image of the poppy next to a photo of UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
A spokesman for UKIP said: “Mr Charalambous is embarrassed and deeply apologetic that he used the Royal British Legion’s 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.”
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.
The other parliamentary candidates for North East Cambridgeshire are Steve Barclay, Conservative; Lucy Nethsingha, Liberal Democrat; Ken Rustidge, Labour and Helen Scott-Daniels, Green.