UK far-right leader retweeted by Trump convicted for hate crime
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UK far-right leader retweeted by Trump convicted for hate crime

Britain First deputy Jayda Fransen, chief Paul Golding found guilty of harassing Muslims they wrongly thought were accused of rape

Deputy leader of the far-right organization Britain First Jayda Fransen gestures as she participates in a march in central London on April 1, 2017. (AFP Photo/Daniel Leal-Olivas)
Deputy leader of the far-right organization Britain First Jayda Fransen gestures as she participates in a march in central London on April 1, 2017. (AFP Photo/Daniel Leal-Olivas)

LONDON — The leader and deputy leader of far-right group Britain First, who hit the headlines after US President Donald Trump retweeted anti-Muslim videos the group posted, were found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment on Wednesday.

Paul Golding, 36, and Jayda Fransen, 31, were convicted for filming and posting online videos of people who they wrongly believed were defendants in a rape trial at Canterbury Crown Court in May last year, which led to the conviction of three Muslim men and a teenager.

They also posted offensive leaflets to houses in the area where the defendants lived.

Judge Justin Barron at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court said Golding and Franson had “demonstrated hostility” towards the Muslim faith.

“I have no doubt it was their joint intention to use the facts of the case (in Canterbury) for their own political ends,” he added.

“It was a campaign to draw attention to the race, religion and immigrant background of the defendants.”

Britain First leader Paul Golding handing out leaflets on ‘solidarity patrol’ in a Jewish neighborhood of London, January 2015. (YouTube screenshot)

Prosecutor Jaswant Narwal said the case had demonstrated Golding and Franson “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,” he added.

US President Donald Trump (right), speaks to British Prime Minister Theresa May at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25, 2017. (AP/Matt Dunham, Pool)

Trump’s sharing in November of three inflammatory anti-Muslim videos posted by Britain First, unrelated to the videos in the Folkestone trial, sparked a Twitter row with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The retweeting of the controversial videos led to renewed calls for Trump’s planned state visit to the UK to be cancelled.

He later made a rare apology, saying he did not know the group’s background before retweeting.

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