Banged to rights? We think not

The BNP lists 167 deaths which it describes as racist murders. Searchlight has been through the list and can prove that race appeared as a motive in only a handful of cases.

Below is a selection of the tragic murders which the BNP is trying to exploit.

Case study 1: Sharon Beshenivsky

Sharon BeshenivskyThe British National Party claimed that PC Sharon Beshenivsky was the victim of a racist murder after she was shot dead by robbers on 18 November 2005, outside a travel agency in Morley Street, Bradford.

Her widower Paul Beshenivsky is outraged. "Sharon's murder was not a racist attack and it should not be used in that way. These people are totally distorting the facts and just making it up.

"At the end of the day the call Sharon went to could have been responded to by anyone. It would not have mattered whether it had been an English, Asian or Polish officer who attended, this gang would have shot them."

Case study 2: John Ward

John Ward was murdered by mistake as he sheltered the intended victim Stuart Higgins, who had fallen foul of the killers.

The BNP jumped to the conclusion that this was a racist killing after police initially described the gunman as Asian or Turkish. However, what they failed to report was that in January 2008 three men were convicted of Ward's murder. David Taylor, 40, of Colchester, Peter Jones, 40, of Chelmsford, and Martin Valentine, 43, of South Ockenden, were all given life sentences.

All three were white.

Case study 3: Mark Wetherall

Mark WetherallMark Wetherall, 47, was killed in March 2007, five weeks after he was attacked by a gang in Whitstable, Kent. According to the BNP he was killed by an "18-year-old black youth Curtis Delima".

Three people were convicted of Wetherall's murder - Curtis Delima, 19, Mark Elliott, 21, and Gerry Cusden, 16. There was no evidence of any racial motive. More importantly, according to the photos of the three on the BBC website, none were black!

Keith Cowell and Matthew Cowell

Keith Cowell and Matthew CowellThe BNP lists Keith Cowell and Matthew Cowell among the victims of racial violence. According to the Billericay Echo the men were killed with a machine gun after a botched drug deal. Once again there was no racial motive to the attack. Strangely, the BNP appears to forget about the third person killed that night, Tony Dulieu.

Both Dulieu and Keith Cowell were known thugs and drug dealers. Dulieu was jailed in May 1999 for a hammer attack in a nightclub and was the cousin of a convicted drug dealer jailed in 2002 for plotting to supply cannabis.

According to the Daily Mirror, "… neighbours claimed taxi driver Cowell's semi was used by drugs dealers. One neighbour said of Cowell, who was based at Stansted Airport: 'Believe me, the world is a better place now that he's gone. This is a man who has upset a lot of families over the years. He was into drugs.'"

Allen ChappelowCase study 4: Allen Chappelow

Hampstead millionaire Allan Chappelow was killed in his own home some time in May or June 2006. Wang Yam, 46, was charged with Chappelow's murder but the jury failed to return a verdict. His is currently being retried but has so far not been convicted. This has not stopped the BNP from claiming that Chappelow was the victim of a racist murder!

Case study 5: David Driscoll

David DriscollDavid Driscoll was murdered in a flat in South Oxhey, near Watford in November 2006, in what appears to have been a plot to steal cocaine. Driscoll, 31, had booked an escort the previous evening and paid for her services in cocaine rather than cash. A court heard that his killer had gone to his flat to search for the drugs.

There was no racial motive mentioned in any of the news reports and only one or the four men named on the BNP website was actually convicted.

Case study 6: Nick Padget

Nick PadgetThe BNP lists the death of 27-year-old Nick Padget, who died after a fight with a west London doorman Kevin Griffith, who just happened to be black. An Old Bailey court heard how Padget was drinking heavily with friends and was asked to leave an O'Neills pub after upsetting other customers. On leaving the pub Padget struck the doorman but later died after receiving a single blow in return. The jury found Griffith not guilty of manslaughter.

Despite this the BNP has listed this as a racist murder by the bizarre logic that if Griffith had been white it would have been treated as racist and become a cause célèbre.

Case study 7: Jolene Colpus

Jolene ColpusJolene Colpus was murdered in June 2006 after being attacked in the hallway of her ground floor flat in Hampshire by 22-year-old Kieron Simei in what was clearly a drugs row. The court heard how 19-year-old Jolene had supplied drugs for Simei but was killed after telling him that there was a problem with a deal.

There was no suggestion that race played any role in the murder.

Case study 8: Vincent Swift

Vincent Swift died after a violent racist incident that he and his friends started. In a trial that saw his killers convicted, the court heard how Swift, 27, his younger brother and a friend began racially taunting and threatening a group of Kosovan teenagers, challenging them to a fight with weapons.

The court heard how the eastern European youths ran off, only to return with some weapons of their own, and a fight ensued during which Swift was killed.

Even though race proved to be a factor in the death, it must be emphasised that Swift initiated the racial clash.

Case study 9: Stuart Watt

Stuart Watt was murdered during a night out in Blackpool in September 2004, as he was celebrating after being given the all-clear for cancer. Watt, 24, was killed outside the Flares nightclub. Three days later head doorman Sajad Hussein Ali was arrested and charged with the murder.

This much was reported in the BNP document.

However, that was four years ago and the BNP's researchers obviously could not be bothered to discover what happened in the case. Perhaps Sajad Hussein Ali was found guilty, perhaps not (we have searched the internet and there is no record of any trial or conviction).

The BNP had got an Asian name in the frame and for them that was enough.

Ronnie KettridgeCase study 10: Ronnie Kettridge

Ronnie Kettridge died when he was attacked and thrown from his car after it was carjacked. Jamie Lee Osbourne was later found guilty of murder but given that he had a white girlfriend, who was involved in the attack, it can hardly be described as a racist murder.

Case study 11: Aaron Chapman

According to the BNP, Aaron Chapman was a "young prison officer" who was "stabbed through the heart and liver outside his home" in what it claims was a racist attack. The truth is quite different. Not only was his killer, Mark Dorling, white, but Chapman had been suspended from work at the time for moonlighting as a doorman and for becoming too friendly with some of the prisoners. The court also heard how he was believed to have been involved in drug dealing. This murder appears to have been connected to a dispute among criminals and had no racial motive.

Case study 12: David Sheehan

David Sheehan was killed in awful circumstances in January 2003. He was tortured and had his throat slashed before being left to die in his house. The BNP website notes that "two black males had been arrested in connection with the offence," but offers no more information about the case. What it failed to mention was that these two men were released a short time later without charge and no-one has ever been convicted of the murder.