Britain First leaders convicted of religiously aggravated harassment

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, both of Penge, south-east London, stood trial in January at Folkestone Magistrates' Court charged with three and four counts respectively of the hate crime.

They were arrested in May last year as part of an investigation into the distribution of leaflets and online videos which were posted during a trial at Canterbury Crown Court in the same month, after which three Muslim men and a teenager were convicted of rape and jailed.

Judge Justin Barron, handing down his verdict at the court on Wednesday, said their words and actions "demonstrated hostility" towards Muslims and the Muslim faith.

He said: "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."

He found Fransen guilty of three charges and Golding guilty of one charge.

Both Fransen and Golding were convicted on a joint charge of religiously aggravated harassment after an incident on May 5 at 555 Pizza takeaway in Ramsgate, Kent, last year.

Fransen banged on the windows and doors of the shop and screamed "paedophile" and "foreigner" while two children were playing in the middle of the shop and Jamshed Khesrow, a friend of the owners, was inside.

Judge Barron dismissed a second charge against the pair alleged to have taken place outside Canterbury Crown Court later that day.

Fransen was accused of telling defendant Tamin Rahmani's brother Faiz that "Muslims are bastards and rapists".

Judge Barron said that section of the conversation was not recorded and the video that was played to the court did not amount to threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.

Fransen was convicted of abuse after visiting a house she wrongly believed to be the current address of another defendant, Sershah Muslimyar. But Golding was cleared of uploading a video of this incident.

Fransen was also convicted of visiting the Kent home of Tamin Rahmani, and shouting racist abuse through the front door while his pregnant partner Kelli Best was there.

Jaswant Narwal, Chief Crown Prosecutor in the South East for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "The prosecution case demonstrated these defendants were not merely exercising their right to free speech but were instead aiming religiously aggravated abuse at innocent members of the public.

"The victims suffered the distress of the abuse followed by additional stress when the footage was uploaded to the internet.

"This offending also related to an ongoing criminal trial and the actions taken by Fransen and Golding could easily have derailed the justice process."

The pair are due to be sentenced on Wednesday afternoon.

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