31 May 2013

Lee Rigby family: no attacks in his name

Drummer Lee Rigby’s regiment condemns the exploitation of his death while his family say he would not have wanted his name used “as an excuse” for attacks on others.

Regiment of Drummer Lee Rigby reject EDL support

Lee Rigby’s family said he would not have wanted people to use his name as an excuse for retalliation attacks.

Serving soldiers were also issued a stark warning on Facebook by Army HQ about being exploited by “far-right, extremist organisations”.

The statements follow reports of a stark rise in Islamaphobic incidents since the murder, according to the abuse helpline Tell Mama.

We would like to emphasise that Lee would not want people to use his name as an excuse to carry out attacks against others – Lee Rigby family

The family thanked the public for the “overwhelming support” they had received. But they appealed for calm, saying in a statement released by the MoD: “We would like to emphasise that Lee would not want people to use his name as an excuse to carry out attacks against others.

“We would not wish any other families to go through this harrowing experience and appeal to everyone to keep calm and show their respect in a peaceful manner.”

Their tribute came as an inquest into the soldier’s death was opened and adjourned, during which it was revealed he had been working at the Tower of London on the day he died.

Army warning

A message circulated to serving soldiers on Facebook by Army HQ also warned veterans to be wary in the wake of Drummer Rigby’s death: “far-right, extremist organisations (English Defence League in particular) will seize any opportunity to align veterans with their cause”.

The statements come after some the English Defence League (EDL) had organised marches and protests in memory of the 25-year-old, who was hacked to death in Woolwich last week.

“Some veterans with sympathies for the Rigby family, and the army in general, may not recognise the threat to the army’s reputation if they are perceived to be supporting the EDL’s inflammatory agenda,” the message from Army HQ read.

Far-right, extremist organisations (EDL in particular) will seize any opportunity to align veterans with their cause – Army HQ

Speaking for Drummer Rigby’s regiment on Facebook, retired brigadier I R Liles, regimental secretary of the the Fusiliers Association North East, also said in a statement: “It is wrong and disgraceful that the death of one of our own should be exploited in this manner and that dishonour, by wrongful association, is brought on to the regiment.

“We are to remain dignified with our heads held high and respect Fusilier Rigby in the way we have all our dead; with honour and pride.

“We will pay our respects in the correct manner and remember him as a band of brothers. Anger and revenge are understandable emotions but they acheive nothing other than fostering hatred.”

The statements follow the banning of a BNP march from Westminister to Woolwich, that had been planned for Saturday.

Extraordinary reaction

The statements come as the co-founder of the charity Help for Heroes has described how the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby caused an “extraordinary public reaction”.

The popular military support group was swamped with donations after the soldier was killed while wearing one of its tops. Co-founder Bryn Parry said the attack has given greater significance to a mass fundraising bike ride taking place in London on Sunday.

Mr Parry said: “Our fundraising challenge in 2013 is even more poignant following the horrific and devastating event and the extraordinary public reaction to the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby last week.

“For many, that desire to show support has been focused on doing good to counter the bad. Help for Heroes has been the unexpected focus of this national outpouring of support.”

Donations unwelcome

Help for Heroes announced on Monday that it would not accept any donations raised by the leader of the EDL, “Tommy Robinson”.

The EDL leader started fundraising following last week’s murder but a spokesman for the charity said the Just Giving page set up by Mr Robinson would be closed down and all donations would be refunded.

The charity said it would check for any further donations from EDL members and said they would not accept any donations from the group.