The far-right group Britain First has been accused of using the death of Lynda Bellingham to attract social media users to its Facebook page.
On Monday the group, self-described as “a patriotic political party and street defence organisation” posted 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. Most social media users expressed their condolences beneath the picture but some questioned the organisation’s motives.
One person said: “She would be furious to know Britain First had used her memory to get likes and draw attention to their hate-filled home page.”
And another added: “There are loads of posts over Linda Bellingham please don't acknowledge this organisation.”
Lynda Bellingham: Life in pictures
Lynda Bellingham: Life in pictures
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Lynda Bellingham poses holding her medal after being invested as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in central London on 14 March 2014
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Lynda Bellingham with (left to right) sons Michael and Robert, husband Michael and step-son Bradley arrive at Buckingham Palace in central London for an Investiture Ceremony where she received an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) on 14 March 2014 in London
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Lynda Bellingham and Michael Pattemore attend the BAFTA Television Craft Awards at The Brewery on 27 April 2014 in London
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Lynda Bellingham attends The Laurence Olivier Awards at the Royal Opera House on 28 April 2013 in London
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(L-R) Carol McGiffin, Lynda Bellingham, Denise Welch, Kate Thornton, Leslie Garrett and Andrea McLean on 20 January 2010
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Lynda Bellingham and her dance partner Darren Bennett on 2009 Strictly Come Dancing
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(L-R) Amy Lame, Diana Moran, Ruth Lorenzo, Laila Morse and Lynda Bellingham launch the 'If I can do it...' Cancer Research Race for Life campaign on 2 March 2009 in London
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'Loose Women' Presenters (L-R) Sherrie Hewson, Coleen Nolan, Carol McGriffin, Jackie Brambles, Lynda Bellingham and Jane McDonld arrive for the TV Quick & TV Choice awards at the Dorchester Hotel on 3 September 2007 in London
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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II chats to guests at the ITV 50th Anniversary celebration, including (R - L) Nicholas Parsons, Lynda Bellingham and Harry Hill on 13 October 2005 in London
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(L to R) Actors Dame Diana Rigg, Robert Bathurst, Zoe Wanamaker, Stephen Fry, Jane Asher and Lynda Bellingham attend the Stars Shine For Autism Christmas Concert on 2 December 2003 in London
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Nickolas Grace and Lynda Bellingham on 24 February 1999
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Lynda Bellingham with her sons in 1991
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A scene during rehearsal for an Oxo TV advertisment which was screened in 1987, with Lynda Bellingham and her on-screen husband, Michael Redfern
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Film producer Greg Smith (left) with his bride actress Lynda Bellingham after their marriage, accompanied by the best man actor Robin Askwith, on 7 November 1975
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Actress Lynda Bellingham on 4 October 1972
Britain First furiously answered its critics.
In a statement on its Facebook page it said: “Today, the media liars have cynically used actress Lynda Bellingham's death from cancer as a weapon to spread lies about Britain First, a legally registered political party.
“In a shameful and disgusting move, they have accused Britain First of deceiving people with a Facebook post that simply pays respect to the actress after she passed.”
It added: “All the post said was 'RIP actress Lynda Bellingham' - that was it.”
It went on to say that its page had actually received more hits because of the media coverage and said it would be lodging complaints with the press regulatory bodies.
Britain First was founded in 2011 by Jim Dowson, who resigned from the group in July.
While the organisation blamed “media pressure” and family issues for the decision Mr Dowson publicly shamed the group’s tactics as “unacceptable and unchristian”.
His departure came after members of the group "invaded" a mosque in south London.
The stated aim of the incident in July was to “demand the removal of sexist signs” outside the Crayford Mosque.
The signs designate separate entrances for men and women, so they can enter for segregated worship as is the custom in most mosques.Reuse content