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Britain First using Northern Ireland laws to sue Facebook over censorship claims

Facebook removed the Britain First page from its platform in March, along with those of its party leaders, Golding and Jayda Fransen, on the grounds of hate speech (stock picture)
Facebook removed the Britain First page from its platform in March, along with those of its party leaders, Golding and Jayda Fransen, on the grounds of hate speech (stock picture)
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

Britain First is suing Facebook for "political discrimination" using special Northern Ireland anti-discrimination laws to bring the social media giant to court.

The party's legal team has launched legal proceedings at Belfast County Court after Facebook closed down a series of its pages over the last year.

Britain First leader Paul Golding, speaking outside the court, said the party is seeking an injunction demanding that Facebook Ireland Ltd reinstate its Facebook fan page and also "pay damages on several fronts".

"For too long now social networks have censored certain political viewpoints and thus interfered with the political process," he said.

"Back in March, 2.6 million Britain First supporters were denied their freedom of belief and expression when Facebook abruptly closed our fan pages.

"Other pages, like 'Death to Israel' and 'F*** Christianity' are allowed to post all manner of hateful and abusive content, but Britain First is beyond the pale and must be silenced?

"Up until now, it has all been 'demands' and 'talk', but now Facebook are going to know 100% that we are deadly serious."

The party has asked for donations to help fight the legal case.

Facebook removed the Britain First page from its platform in March, along with those of its party leaders, Golding and Jayda Fransen, on the grounds of hate speech.

Both Golding and Fransen were found guilty earlier this year of religiously aggravated harassment over the distribution of leaflets and posting of online videos during a gang-rape trial in England.

Fransen and Golding also face charges relating to a Northern Ireland Against Terrorism rally in Belfast in August 2017.

Fransen faces separate charges relating to anti-Islamic remarks made at a Belfast peace wall in December 2017.

In March, Facebook said the content posted on the page and on the pages of Golding and Fransen "repeatedly" broke its community standards. It said it had given page administrators a final written warning which they ignored.

Yesterday Facebook said it "did not comment on legal matters".

In July, the Britain First leaders had a very bitter, public fall out with Independent Unionist councillor Jolene Bunting, who had invited them to Belfast to speak at the Northern Ireland Against Terrorism rally, with both sides taking claims and counter-claims to the PSNI.

Ms Bunting was suspended from Belfast City Council earlier this month for facilitating Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen to send a video message from the Lord Mayor's chair.

On Monday, Britain First posted a video from Ballymena showing Golding approaching Romanian and Bulgarian nationals in the town asking if they got benefits and a house from the government.

He said the group were planning a "day of action" in the town but would not reveal the date or location "for security reasons".

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