The leader and deputy leader of the far-right group Britain First have been jailed for religiously aggravated harassment.
Jayda Fransen was convicted of three counts of religiously aggravated harassment and Paul Golding was found guilty of one charge. Both were arrested over the distribution of leaflets and posting of online videos before being jailed at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court.
The pair denied all counts of harassment but Fransen received a 36-week sentence and Golding 18 weeks.
The pair targeted homes and people in Kent whom they believed were connected to a rape trial. In each case, however, the pair instead targeted innocent members of the public. Their actions endangered the rape trial which was ongoing at the time.
The pair distributed offensive leaflets in the area where the defendants lived and banged on the windows and doors of a shop screaming ‘pedophile’ and ‘foreigner.’ Two children were playing in the shop and a friend of the owner was inside. Fransen had visited houses she wrongly believed to be the address of a defendant in the rape trial. On one occasion she attended the right address and shouted racist abuse through the front door while the defendant’s pregnant partner was there.
Jaswant Narwal, the chief crown prosecutor in the south-east said:
‘the victims suffered the distress of the abuse followed by additional stress when the footage was uploaded to the internet.’
‘these defendants were not merely exercising their right to free speech but were aiming religiously aggravated abuse at innocent members of the public.’
Judge Justice Barron told the court the pair were ‘well-know,’ ‘controversial’ and ‘generate their own publicity’ but his verdict was based ‘solely on admissible evidence heard in court.’ He said their words and action ‘demonstrated hostility’ towards Muslims and the Muslim faith. He said ‘I have no doubt it was their joint intention to use the fact of the case for their own political ends. It was a campaign to draw attention to the race, religion and immigrant background of the defendants.’
During sentencing Fransen spoke over Justice Barron, 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.’