Belfast Telegraph

Britain First deputy leader Fransen to contest Belfast hate speech charges

By Alan Erwin

The deputy leader of far-right group Britain First today told a court she is to contest hate speech charges in Belfast - as the head of her organisation was arrested over the same rally.

Jayda Fransen, 31, appeared before magistrates in the city to face two counts in connection with comments made a demonstration this summer.

She is accused of behaviour intending or likely to stir up hatred or fear by using words which were "threatening, abusive or insulting".

The allegations relate to a speech made at a 'Northern Ireland Against Terrorism' rally at City Hall on August 6.

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

Fransen, of Beeches Close in Anerly, London, arrived at the Laganside Court complex in Belfast with a group of supporters, including Britain First leader Paul Golding.

As they approached ground floor elevators Mr Golding was detained by police.

Th Police Service of Northern Ireland later confirmed a 35-year-old man had been arrested in the city by detectives investigating speeches made at the rally.

He was taken to Musgrave Station for interview.

Entering the dock dressed in a dark coat and skirt, Fransen spoke to confirm she understood the charges, replying: "Yes."

A detective constable said she could connect her to the alleged offences.

Defence counsel Richard McConkey confirmed Fransen will be fighting the allegations.

"I can indicate there will be not guilty pleas to both charges," he said.

The barrister added that the evidence against his client relates to video footage.

Fransen, who was at the centre of a political storm last month when US President Donald Trump retweeted anti-Muslim videos she posted, remains on bail as the case proceeds.

She is due back in court on January 9.

But before she left for a return to London police and prosecutors sought to have her banned from participating in public rallies.

The detective claimed that a 'Free Speech for Jayda' rally was planned to take place in Belfast last weekend - only being postponed due to snow.

"We have concerns there would be further offences, and also concerns about public order," she said.

Adjourning until later in the court list, District Judge Fiona Bagnall said she wanted more information before imposing any conditions.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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