BNP leader joins soldiers’ mourners

Author: By Jamie Grierson and Aleisha Scott, Press Association

Mr Griffin stood on the high street where hearses carrying the soldiers’ Union
Flag-draped coffins were due to arrive.

Wearing a black coat, adorned with a poppy, the controversial MEP stood with a
minder opposite family and friends of the fallen soldiers.

Mr Griffin said: “I wanted to come here today because this is the second
worst toll to be coming through and because tomorrow is Remembrance Day.

“So it’s fitting that as many people as possible come here today.”

He added: “It’s an absolutely tremendous and very moving display.”

Mr Griffin said he had a “friendly” reaction from the public to his
presence.

“It’s been very low key, I’ve been talking to many people and it’s been
very friendly,” he said.

When asked for his view on the conflict in Afghanistan after the loss of the
five soldiers killed by a rogue Afghan police officer, Mr Griffin said: “This
is not the time or the place for political statements – it’s for
remembrance. I have strong views on Afghanistan but I’m not prepared to
discuss them here.”

Standing yards from Mr Griffin was veteran Martyn Matthews, 61, a retired
warrant officer who served for 27 years with the commando forces.

Mr Matthews, from Corsham, Wiltshire, said: “We live in a democracy and
everyone has a right to their own views. If people are going to give their
lives for that freedom, Mr Griffin has as much right to his views as anyone
else does.

“Although I do not stand by his views, I would encourage him to be here
to see the impact extremism can have.”

They were among hundreds of people who turned out to pay their respects to six
soldiers killed in Afghanistan as their bodies returned to British soil
today.

Warrant Officer Class 1 Darren Chant, 40, Sergeant Matthew Telford, 37, and
Guardsman Jimmy Major, 18, from the Grenadier Guards, died alongside
Corporal Steven Boote, 22, and Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith, 24, from the
Royal Military Police.

They were shot dead by a “rogue” Afghan police officer at a secure checkpoint
in Nad-e-Ali in Helmand Province on November 3 in an attack claimed by the
Taliban.

Two days later, Serjeant Phillip Scott, 30, of 3rd Battalion The Rifles, was
killed by an improvised explosive device near Sangin in Helmand.

After a private chapel ceremony for families at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire,
hearses carrying their Union flag-draped coffins were driven to the High
Street of nearby Wootton Bassett for a memorial procession.

Under cloudy skies and drizzling rain, soldiers lined the streets of the town
alongside Royal British Legion veterans, shopkeepers and residents to pay
tribute to the fallen men.

As the cortege passed along the High Street, silence fell, broken only by the
chiming bells of St Bartholomew and All Saints Church.

Standard-bearers from the Royal British Legion lowered their flags as the
coffins passed by.

As the procession paused by the war memorial, which was covered in floral
tributes, roses and wreaths were placed on the hearses by relatives and
friends.

Tearful family members wept as the coffins drove by – some wearing T-shirts
bearing the name of their fallen loved one.

The procession then continued to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, where
post-mortem examinations are completed.

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