The leader and deputy leader of Britain First have been jailed for 18 and 36 weeks respectively on charges of religiously-aggravated harassment.
Paul Golding, 36, was found guilty of one charge of religiously-aggravated harassment and Jayda Fransen three counts of the same offence in relation to an incident in Kent.
They were arrested last May as part of a probe into the distribution of leaflets and online videos posted during a trial at Canterbury Crown Court in the same month after which three Muslim men and a teenager were jailed for rape.
Britain First leader Paul Golding (front right), and deputy leader Jayda Fransen (left) at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court in Kent today
Judge Justin Barron said the duo’s words and actions ‘demonstrated hostility’ towards Muslims and the faith of Islam.
Fransen shot into the international media spotlight last November when US president Donald Trump retweeted anti-Islamic posts from her Twitter page.
Golding and Fransen, of Penge, South East London, stood trial in January charged with three and four counts respectively of the hate crime.
The judge at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court in Kent found Fransen guilty of three charges and Golding guilty of one – but dismissed the other counts against them.
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.’
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 and Golding pose with their supporters outside Folkestone Crown Court today
Fransen and Golding, pictured at a rally in Ramsgate, Kent, have now both been found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment
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 b******s 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 and Golding were arrested over alleged campaigning around an ongoing trial of three Muslim men and a teenager
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.
Jamshed Khesrow told the court about the incident on May 5 last year when he was visiting 555 Pizza takeaway, which his friend owns in Ramsgate.
He said at the time that two children were playing in the middle of the shop, and he went to investigate when he heard banging on the front doors and window.
Mr Khesrow told how he heard Fransen ‘screaming’ and shouting: ‘Come out you paedophile. You’re a rapist. Come outside, I want to talk to you.’
He said: ‘She was swearing. I was so scared, I thought she was going to start fighting with me. She was very aggressive and angry. I didn’t know what was going on.’
There were sniggers from the public gallery – which was packed full of the group’s supporters – as Mr Khesrow gave his evidence from behind a screen. Mr Khesrow told the owner to dial 999 and said Golding was filming at the time.
Then he told the court he heard Fransen shouting in the street, saying: ‘I’m not scared of the police. I don’t care about the police.’ Mr Khesrow added: ‘I’ve lived in England for 17 years and I’ve never been scared like this.’
The judge found Fransen (left) guilty of three charges and Golding (right, both pictured today) guilty of one charge but dismissed the other counts against them
When questioned as to why he had not previously mentioned the specific comments she made, he said: ‘Nobody asked me. If nobody asks me, how can I say it?
‘You’re asking me now and I’m answering you. I don’t need to lie to you. You know and I know that she is swearing my religion all the time.’
Fransen and Golding were arrested on May 10 over alleged campaigning around the then-ongoing trial of three Muslim men and a teenager, who were later convicted and jailed for raping a 16-year-old girl in a flat above the takeaway.
The charges against Britain First leaders: How Fransen was guilty of three counts of religiously-aggravated harassment and Golding one
- Britain First leader Paul Golding, 36, was found guilty of one count of religiously-aggravated harassment.
- His deputy, Jayda Fransen, 32, was found guilty of three counts of the same offence. The convictions relate to three incidents last year.
- On May 5, Fransen and Golding banged on the windows and doors of a pizza takeaway in Ramsgate, Kent, with Fransen shouting ‘paedophile’ and ‘foreigner’.
- 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.
- Judge Barron dismissed a second charge against the pair alleged to have taken place outside Canterbury Crown Court later that day.
When they were questioned by police over the distribution of leaflets and online videos posted during the trial, they did not comment.
Earlier in the trial, the court watched video footage entitled ‘Muslim rapists 2’ which showed Faiz Rahmani standing with his brother Tamin Rahmani – one of the defendants – and his barrister outside by the door to Canterbury Crown Court.
Fransen was seen walking up the steps towards the group, asking if they were Muslim and ‘what they were in for’.
Giving evidence in court, Mr Rahmani claimed she called Muslims ‘b******s’ and ‘rapists’ – comments which did not appear on the footage shown – and branded her ‘aggressive and loud’.
The court heard in January, that the two 12 and 13-year-old daughters of Rahmani, one of the men who was convicted of the rape, were at 555 Pizza when Golding and Fransen arrived.
Footage shown to the court saw Fransen banging on the windows of the restaurant and saying the words: ‘Using these restaurant to trap young girls, English girls and rape them.
‘You dirty monsters. You are all going to be exposed. Come outside and face me.’
One of the children started filming Fransen and Golding when the banging on the door and shouting had started.
The mother of Tamin Rahmani’s children told the court that she heard Fransen knocking at the door and said the shop was closed.
She said: ‘She was banging and saying ‘come out, come out,’ it was like someone was attacking you, really, really aggressive. Then I called the police I didn’t know who they were.’
The witness said her daughters were left in a worried state by the incident. She said: ‘They were crying. They were worried about them coming back.’
A second witness, PC Nicholas Mayo, said the two girls were his main concern when he attended the premises after the police were called.
He said: ‘They were very distressed, very shaken up’ and that one of the girls ‘was clearly in tears.’
Kevin Smallcombe, defending, in examining the mother of Rahmani’s children, said: ‘The confrontation was very brief. Would you agree with that?’
She disagreed but when asked said it lasted ‘a couple of minutes, a maximum of five minutes’.
Fransen (left, pictured with Golding) shot into the international media spotlight last year when Donald Trump retweeted some anti-Islamic posts on her social media page
Protesters hold placards and Union flags during a protest titled ‘London march against terrorism’ in response to the March 22 Westminster terror attack on April 1, 2017 in London
How Donald Trump was blasted for sharing anti-Muslim videos posted by Jayda Fransen on Twitter
Jayda Fransen hit the headlines in November last year when Donald Trump shared anti-Muslim videos she posted on Twitter.
The President’s decision sparked an immediate backlash, with Theresa May condemning the move and the widow of murdered MP Jo Cox accusing him of ‘spreading hatred’.
The first video retweeted by Mr Trump was claimed to show a ‘Muslim migrant’ beating up a Dutch boy on crutches.
Donald Trump (pictured on March 7) was blasted for sharing anti-Muslim videos posted by Jayda Fransen on Twitter
But Dutch media said the video was ‘fake news’. The video features a born and raised Dutch man and no reports have detailed the suspect’s religion.
Mr Trump also retweeted a video of a Muslim man ‘destroy(ing) a statue of Virgin Mary’, and another where Ms Fransen wrote: ‘Islamist mob pushed teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!’ The provenance of the footage is unknown.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Britain First sought to divide communities through its use of ‘hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions’.
‘It is wrong for the president to have done this,’ the spokesman said.
Labour politician Mrs Cox was stabbed and shot outside her constituency office in Birstall, West Yorkshire, in June 2016 by a man who shouted ‘Britain First’.
Jamshed Khesrow, a friend of the family, was at the restaurant at the time. Giving testimony behind a screen, he said that Fransen shouted at him, calling him a paedophile and told him to come outside.
He said that, out of fear, he hid in the back of the shop. Mr Khesrow said: ‘I was so scared, I was worried she was about to start fighting me. She was very angry. I was so afraid and so scared, I did not know what was going to happen.’
Another witness, Ikram Safai, told how he found a video on the Britain First website of Fransen knocking on his door, but identifying it as the home of Sershah Muslimyar – another defendant in the trial who used to live there before him.
Mr Safai, who is originally from Afghanistan, has lived in the UK since 2013 and in that house for around two-and-a-half years, told the court in the video Fransen said: ‘Come out dirty Muslim. Rapist Muslim. Come out and speak to me face to face if you’re man enough.’
He said a social worker advised him to move house, adding: ‘I was upset, scared, angry.’
Leaflets the group allegedly distributed in the street, which were shown in court, purported to feature a picture of Muslimyar. But Mr Safai, who had met him, said this was not him.
The prosecution say Faiz Rahmani was wrongly identified as Muslimyar in these leaflets.
Prosecuting, Madeleine Wolf, said: ‘Golding and Fransen demonstrated hostility towards individuals because of their membership of what they viewed as the Muslim faith.
‘The defence to the allegations seems to be that they did not intend to cause alarm and distress. They argue they were entitled to act the way they did.’
In one of the videos shown to the court, Paul Golding, addressing the camera talked about being targeted by the police.
In it, he said: ‘People like me and Jayda do not have breaking points.’
He added: ‘We are in this to the death. We are in this all the way.’
After today’s hearing, Jaswant Narwal, from 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.’
In summarising his findings Judge Barron said: ‘This was a deliberate campaign against targeted victims.
He added: ‘I have no doubt it was their joint intention to use the facts of the case for their own political ends….this was a campaign not to highlight a terrible rape but a campaign to draw attention to the race, religion and immigrant background of the defendants.’
On hearing the sentence Fransen said: ‘I think this is a very sad day for British justice…
She is then cut off by Judge Barron who said he did not want to hear a political slogan.
She added: ‘Everything I have done is for the children and they are worth it.’
Upon saying this the public gallery- that was packed with Britain First supporters- erupted in applause.
The supporters then left the court abusing the judge and the press saying they were ‘disgraceful’ and also shouting ‘no surrender’
Golding and Fransen were led down to the cells.