Northern Ireland

Jayda Fransen: Ex-Britain First deputy leader convicted over hate speech

Jayda Fransen Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Jayda Fransen, pictured outside court in 2018, was convicted for comments made in Northern Ireland in 2017

A former deputy leader of far-right group Britain First has been convicted of stirring up hatred during a speech about Islam in Belfast.

Jayda Fransen, 33, was found guilty over a speech at a rally in August 2017.

She was also convicted for separate comments at a peace wall in the city.

Britain First leader Paul Golding, 37, and two other Englishmen, John Banks and Paul Rimmer, were acquitted on similar charges.

The judge, when convicting Fransen, of Moat Avenue in Donaghadee, County Down, described her words as "a general, vehement attack against a religious group".

She was told to return to Belfast Magistrates' Court for sentencing in May.

Freedom of expression

All four defendants were on trial over speeches given during the 'Northern Ireland Against Terrorism' event two years ago.

They were accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words intended to stir up hatred or arouse fear.

During the trial, defence lawyers argued each of the accused were entitled to freedom of expression no matter how offensive their speeches may be.

The court heard that Fransen told those gathered at the rally that there was no moderate version of Islam and that: "These people are baying for our blood."

She added: "Islam says every single one of you wonderful people here today deserves to be killed."

Those attending the rally were then told it was time for the world to come together against "the one common enemy".

The judge told the court: "I'm satisfied these words were intended to stir up hatred and arouse fear."

He also found her guilty over a separate, filmed incident at a Belfast peace wall in December 2017.

'Menacing in nature'

On that occasion, the court heard that Fransen declared the "Islamification" of Britain will lead to similar walls to separate the two sides.

She claimed the country was "descending into civil war" and said it was time to "rise up against the biggest threat against the entire world".

Confirming a conviction for that episode, the judge said: "I'm satisfied the words were menacing in nature."

Golding, of Beeches Close in Anerley, London, allegedly referred to a mosque in Newtownards as part of claims about Islam's colonisation.

In his speech, he said: "We have got a problem with one religion and one religion only, that is Islam."

Rimmer, of Modred Street in Liverpool, allegedly told the crowd Muslims were colonising and taking over British cities.

The 56-year-old was said to have warned about "a wolf coming down the track".

He claimed, however, that he spoke about love and friendship.

The judge dismissed the case against Golding, Rimmer and Banks, 61, of Acacia Road, in Doncaster, England.

He said some of their speeches were "ugly" but had not crossed the line into being illegal.

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