Lizzie Dearden, The Independent, March 7, 2018
The leaders of far-right extremist group Britain First have been jailed for anti-Muslim hate crimes after targeting people they incorrectly believed were involved in an ongoing rape trial.
Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen were convicted on several counts of religiously-aggravated harassment following a trial at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court, which heard their actions could have caused rapists to walk free.
Fransen was sentenced to 36 weeks imprisonment and Golding for 18 weeks by a judge who said their crimes were “deliberately planned against targeted victims”.
Judge Justin Barron said their words and actions “demonstrated hostility” towards Muslims and Islam, adding: “I have no doubt it was their joint intention to use the facts 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.”
The judge said the court had received a number of emails both in the defendants’ support and against them, but the verdict was based ”solely on admissible evidence heard in court”.
Golding, 36, was convicted of one count of religiously aggravated harassment and acquitted on two others.
His deputy, 31-year-old Fransen, was found guilty of three counts of the same offence and cleared of one.
They were arrested in May after distributing leaflets and posting of videos during a rape trial at Canterbury Crown Court, where three Muslim men and a teenager were later convicted and jailed.
In one incident, Fransen went to the home of one of the defendants, Tamin Rahmani, and shouted racist abuse through the front door.
His pregnant partner Kelli Best was alone with their two children, aged three years and 18 months, at the time of the incident on 9 May.
In a video played in court, Fransen could be seen banging on the door and shouting: “Come out and face me you disgusting rapist, come on.”
Prosecutors said it was one of several incidents of Fransen and Golding “filming and harassing people” they incorrectly believed were involved in the trial.
“In each case, they instead targeted innocent members of the public,” a spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
“They filmed the abuse and then released it on social media and through the Britain First website.
“They also posted offensive leaflets through the letterboxes of houses in the area where the rape trial defendants lived.”
Fransen denied all charges and claimed she did not use the phrase “Muslim bastards”, or say that all Muslims are rapists.
Golding also denied the charges and said he was only acting as Fransen’s cameraman.