Belfast Telegraph

Belfast hate speech trial of Britain First leaders delayed

By Alan Erwin

A trial involving the leaders of far-right group Britain First for allegedly inciting hatred in Belfast has been put back to the autumn.

Proceedings against Paul Golding and his deputy Jayda Fransen were plunged into doubt following their imprisonment in England.

A hearing scheduled for last month at Belfast Magistrates' Court had to be postponed when the pair were convicted and jailed for religiously aggravated harassment in a separate case.

A new date in September has now been secured for the trial involving Golding, Fransen and two other defendants.

But defence lawyers are still seeking clarity around contact permitted between the Britain First leaders before the hearing gets underway.

Golding, 36, and Fransen, 32, are being prosecuted over speeches delivered outside Belfast City Hall.

The case relates to a 'Northern Ireland Against Terrorism' rally in August last year.

Demonstrators had gathered on the same day as a republican march to mark the use of internment without trial by the British Army at the height of the Troubles in 1971.

Golding and Fransen are charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words.

They allegedly intended to stir up hatred or arouse fear by his comments, according to the police case.

Similar charges have also been brought against 60-year-old John Banks, of Acacia Road in Doncaster, south Yorkshire, and Paul Rimmer, 55, of Modred Street in Liverpool.

All four accused deny the allegations against them.

Doubts about the trial being able to go ahead first emerged when Golding and Fransen were convicted and jailed Folkestone Magistrates' Court in March over unrelated charges.

Fransen was handed a 36-week sentence while Golding received 18 weeks.

The new contest date in Belfast has been fixed to ensure both have completed their prison terms

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