The British National Party has claimed that universities are denying freedom of speech after a Staffordshire University lecturer complained about the use of his picture in their publicity material.
Journalism and politics lecturer Mick Temple complained that local BNP representatives used his picture and comments he made to a newspaper in their literature without his permission.
A leaflet quotes Dr Temple saying that, by polling 20 per cent of votes in the council elections in Stoke-on-Trent in May, the BNP was "building a base from which they could gain further political success".
Dr Temple told TheTHES he was particularly angry that his picture had been used, since as far as he was concerned this implied that he supported the BNP.
He said: "Much of my work involves commenting on local and regional politics, and I could not do that if I was seen to be backing one particular party. I was worried that I would become tainted by the appearance of my picture in that leaflet. I wouldn't want any political party to use my picture in their literature."
But the BNP dismissed Dr Temple's complaints as a symptom of "intimidation" and "cowardice" in higher education.
Phill Edwards, a former science lecturer who is now a BNP spokesman, said Dr Temple was probably unhappy about his picture being used because he was worried about being "hounded" by leftwing academics who would be upset by his comments. He said: "The universities are very fond of saying they support diversity, yet 98 per cent of their lecturers are lefties and many of them will try to intimidate colleagues who say anything they don't agree with."
Dr Temple said he made his comments because he felt a predominantly working-class area such as Stoke was more likely to back parties such as the BNP if other parties failed to say where they stood on controversial issues such as accommodating asylum-seekers.