Britain First conference hotel to donate cost of room hire to charity
The Wyboston Lakes resort said the controversial organisation did not book a meeting room in its own name.
More than £2,000 paid to hire a conference room for far-right group Britain First will be donated to charity by the hotel where the meeting was held.
The Wyboston Lakes resort in Bedfordshire said it was “deeply offended” by the controversial organisation’s presence on their property.
Pictures posted online by the fringe political group’s leader Paul Golding appeared to show dozens of people sitting in a room decked with banners declaring “Taking Our Country Back!”
The resort faced criticism online when news of the conference, the location of which had not been made public by Britain First, became clear.
We sold a small room on 02/12/17 at the last minute. This was not booked by Britain First the name given did not arouse any suspicions. As a company that is proudly diverse we are unhappy to have been associated. We will be making a full statement shortly.— The Waterfront Hotel (@wf_hotel) December 3, 2017
The meeting was booked at short notice under the name Patriot Merchandise, which the resort said had no obvious connections to Britain First.
Patriot Merchandise is listed at Companies House as a private limited company based in Belfast.
No staff entered the meeting room during the event and the banners were erected only in the “closed off conference room”, a resort spokesman said.
The £2,250 cost of the five-hour event on Saturday will now be donated to an as-yet undecided charity.
In a statement released on Sunday evening the resort spokesman said: “For the sake of clarity, had we known the nature of the event being held by Britain First, we would not have taken the booking, as the values of our organisation conflicts with theirs in totality.”
Wyboston Lakes, which was ranked at 28 in this year’s Sunday Times best 100 companies to work for list, said it “embraces diversity”.
The spokesman added: “We can fully understand the concerns expressed, but we can only refer to our company values and principles, our standing as an award-winning employer and assure everyone that we are deeply offended by their presence on our property.”
Britain First’s conference came days after Donald Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos posted by the group’s deputy leader Jayda Fransen.
Two featured violent scenes, including someone being pushed off a roof and another person being assaulted.
The group has since boasted they gained hundreds of new membership applications and said its Facebook posts were reaching hundreds of thousands more users.
Fransen, 31, from Penge, south-east London, is on bail facing trial over four charges of causing religiously aggravated harassment as part of a Kent Police investigation into the distribution of leaflets and the posting of online videos during a trial held at Canterbury Crown Court in May.
She will go on trial at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court on January 29 alongside Golding who faces three similar charges.
Fransen will also appear in court in Northern Ireland in December charged with using threatening and abusive language in connection with a speech she made at an anti-terrorism demonstration in Belfast on August 6.