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Britain First leader to deny inciting hatred at Belfast rally

The organisation has enjoyed added prominence after US President Donald Trump retweeted three unrelated anti-Muslim videos posted by Fransen.

The leader of the far-right Britain First group will plead not guilty to charges of inciting hatred during a speech in Belfast, his lawyer said.

Paul Golding, 35, is accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words at a Northern Ireland Against Terrorism rally outside Belfast City Hall on August 6 last year.

His barrister Richard McConkey confirmed he denied the charges during a brief appearance at Belfast Magistrates’ Court.

Britain First posts anti-Islamic videos on social media.

Its deputy leader Jayda Fransen, 31, faces separate charges relating to the same demonstration.

The organisation has enjoyed added prominence after US President Donald Trump retweeted three unrelated anti-Muslim videos posted by Fransen.

The group has since boasted that it received hundreds of new membership applications and its Facebook posts were reaching hundreds of thousands more users.

Fransen and Golding’s Twitter accounts have been suspended.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said Mr Trump was wrong to retweet the videos.

Golding, from Beeches Close in Anerley, south-east London, spoke only to confirm he understood the charges during his brief court appearance.

He wore a dark jacket as he stood in the dock in the city centre court.

He faces two charges of using words which were threatening, abusive or insulting and likely to stir up hatred or arouse fear or which were intended to do so.

He addressed a rally organised on the day Irish republican protesters paraded in Belfast to mark the anniversary of internment – detention without trial – being introduced during the Northern Ireland conflict.

A number of police officers provided extra security outside the court.

The case will be reviewed on January 26 and Golding’s trial is due on April 6, the same date Fransen will be tried, district judge Fiona Bagnall said.

Britain First is planning to hold a “Rally for Trump” outside the US Embassy in London when the president holds a working visit to the UK next month.

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