Britain First leader Paul Golding to fight allegations he incited hatred at Belfast rally, court hears
The leader of far-right group Britain First is to fight allegations that he incited hatred at a rally in Belfast, a court heard on Wednesday.
As Paul Golding appeared before magistrates in the city, his lawyer confirmed he will be contesting claims of using threatening, abusive or insulting words during last summer's demonstration.
"He's pleading not guilty to both charges," barrister Richard McConkey said.
Golding, 35, and his group's deputy leader Jayda Fransen, 31, are now set to stand trial together in April.
Allegations against the two senior Britain First figures relate to speeches 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.
Golding, of Beeches Close in Anerly, London, was arrested last month after he arrived at Belfast Magistrates' Court for the first stage of his party colleague's prosecution.
He returned today to have the two charges of incitement to hatred put to him.
Dressed in a navy coat and tan chinos, he replied "Yes" when asked if he understood the allegations.
An investigating detective said she could connect him to the charges.
Fransen, who appeared in the same dock on Tuesday to face similar counts, has provoked a furore by appearing in a filmed update on the case while sitting in the Lord Mayor's chair.
The video clip, in which she wears council robes, was posted on the far-right group's Facebook page.
Fransen is also separately charged with inciting racial hatred by anti-Islamic remarks at peace wall in Belfast on December 13,
She was back in the public gallery with around a dozen supporters for her party leader's first appearance.
District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told the cases against both Britain First representatives in connection with the City Hall rally should be heard together.
"It's effectively the same footage," Mr McConkey contended.
With a further review hearing listed for later this month, Mrs Bagnall asked the prosecution to confirm if it will agree to a joint trial.
"It seems a logical way forward," she added.
Although Golding was excused from attending that review, his barrister indicated: "I think he's going to be here."
As the defendant and his entourage exited the courtroom a man waiting outside repeatedly shouted: "Fascist scum."
Golding and his group walked on without responding.
Belfast Telegraph Digital