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Britain First deputy leader convicted over religious abuse

Deputy leader of Britain First, Jayda Fransen, arriving at Luton Magistrates' Court Image copyright PA
Image caption Jayda Fransen claimed her words were not intended to be offensive

The deputy leader of far-right group Britain First has been fined nearly £2,000 for religiously-aggravated harassment.

Jayda Fransen, 30, shouted at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab who was with four children.

It happened during a "Christian Patrol" in Luton on 23 January, Luton and South Bedfordshire Magistrates' Court heard.

Fransen admitted saying men "force women to cover up to avoid being raped" but denied it was intended offensively.

"The reason I said (that) was because from everything I have studied, I understand (it) to be true," Fransen said in her defence.

'World War Three has begun'

About 20 Britain First members took part in the "patrol" of Bury Park distributing branded newspapers which had a front page reading "World War Three has begun - Islam against the world", the court heard.

The victim, who was shopping at the time, refused a newspaper from the group.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, she said it was at this point that Fransen, from South Norwood, south London, crossed the road and confronted her.

Fransen was seen brandishing a white cross during the incident, which was captured on camera by members of Britain First.

Political uniform

The victim told the court: "She came across, shouting at me, saying 'Why are you covered?', and she said that quite a few times. I told her it was my choice that I cover.

"I then turned to the camera and I said, 'Film me, I'm British, I'm a British Muslim. It's my choice to wear this clothing and it's my right'."

The woman said she then had to go home and explain the meaning of the word rape to her young children with her four-year-old son now scared to leave the house in case he meets the group.

Fransen was fined £1,000 for the religiously aggravated harassment and £200 for wearing a political uniform which related to her wearing of a green coat with a Britain First lapel and a black beanie hat bearing the party's emblem.

She was also ordered to pay £620 in costs and a £100 surcharge and issued with a two-year restraining order to prevent her from contacting the victim.

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