LONDON – The leader and deputy leader of far-right group Britain First have been found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment.
Paul Golding, 36, and Jayda Fransen, 32, were arrested over the distribution of leaflets and posting of online videos during a gang-rape trial.
Fransen was convicted of three counts of religiously aggravated harassment. Golding was found guilty of one charge. Both were jailed at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court. Fransen was handed a 36-week sentence and Golding 18 weeks.
During their trial in January, the court heard they had targeted homes and people in Kent whom they believed were connected to a rape trial at Canterbury Crown Court where three Muslim men and a teenager were convicted of rape and jailed.
The pair, both from Penge in south-east London, were arrested in May last year. They denied a total of seven counts of harassment.
Judge Justin Barron threw out three of the charges, while Fransen was found guilty of three and Golding of one.
He told the court the pair were “well-known”, “controversial” and “generate their own publicity”, but his verdict was based “solely on admissible evidence heard in court”.
He said their words and actions “demonstrated hostility” towards Muslims and the Muslim faith.
“I have no doubt it was their joint intention to use the facts of the case [in Canterbury] for their own political ends. ”It was a campaign to draw attention to the race, religion and immigrant background of the defendants.“
Both Fransen and Golding were convicted on a joint charge of religiously aggravated harassment after an incident last May at 555 Pizza takeaway in Ramsgate, when Fransen banged on the windows and doors of the shop and screamed ”paedophile“ and ”foreigner“.
However, in each case, they instead targeted innocent members of the public.
They filmed the abuse and then released it on social media and through the Britain First website. They also posted offensive leaflets through the letterboxes of houses in the area where the defendants lived. Giving evidence, Fransen had denied being a racist and said she had carried out campaigns against people accused of sex offences, while Mr Golding told the court he had often acted as her cameraman.
Fransen was convicted of abuse after visiting a house she wrongly believed to be the current address of Sershah Muslimyar, a defendant in the trial.
She was also convicted of visiting the Kent home of another defendant, Tamin Rahmani, and shouting racist abuse through the front door while his pregnant partner Kelli Best was there.
During sentencing Fransen spoke over the judge, saying: ”This is a very sad day for British justice. Everything I did was for the children of this country and they are worth it.“
As Britain First supporters left the courtroom they hurled abuse at court staff and members of the press, shouting ”no surrender”.–MercoPress