A MAN found dead in a Burnley street was a former BNP councillor, it has been revealed.

Luke Smith, 26, of Brun-shaw Road, was found dead on a path leading from Yorkshire Street, near the Princess Royal Pub, to the canal around 4.30pm on Sunday.

The convicted football hooligan, who was forced to resign as a councillor after continued allegations of violence, was said to have been suffering psychological problems when he appeared in court last Monday charged with assault.

Mr Smith’s uncle, Steve Smith, who was the BNP leader in Burnley when his nephew was elected, and is now leader of the far-right England First party, said: “He was a lovely, lovely lad who, like a lot of people, was just too sensitive to exist in what is effectively an extremely cruel world.

"Things had gone downhill for him.”

BNP councillors said the news had come as a shock.

Coun Sharon Wilkinson said: “I think it’s always a shock when a young person takes their own life.

"Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

Coun Leonard Starr added: “I knew Luke but I hadn’t seen him for about two or three years. It is a really sad occurrence.”

Lanehead ward Coun Peter McCann said: “It’s tragic news for his family and friends and it’s something you wouldn’t wish on anyone.

"I read he hadn’t been well and it’s unfortunate the way things have ended.”

Mr Smith was just 21 when he was elected as councillor for the Lanehead ward, in May 2003.

But he was suspended from the BNP less than three months later, after it emerged previous football-related violence had earned him a lifetime ban from Turf Moor, and he was alleged to have been fighting at the party’s Red, White and Blue festival in Sawley in July that year.

In September 2004, after a full investigation by the Standards Board for England, he was banned for three years from becoming a member of any council across the UK.

Earlier in 2004, the former gas engineer had been given a two-and-a-half year football banning order, and he was jailed for 11 months in March 2006, after breaching the order and being involved in football-related violence in Manchester, Blackpool and Burnley.

His football banning order was extended to six years.

In his latest court appearance on July 14, he was charged with assault after an attack on the landlord of the Princess Royal – the pub near where he was found dead.

His solicitor told magistrates that Smith had been in hospital and was suffering from adjustment disorder, brief reactive depression and a mental and behavioural disorder due to misuse of substances.

He said Smith’s life had “spiralled out of control”.