Britain First deputy leader to face NI race hate trial

Jayda Fransen accused of two counts of behaviour intended to or likely to stir up hatred

Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen addresses the media outside Belfast Laganside Magistrates.  She will face trial in April. Photograph:  Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen addresses the media outside Belfast Laganside Magistrates. She will face trial in April. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

 

The deputy leader of far-right group Britain First is to go on trial over alleged hate speeches in Belfast, it was confirmed in court on Tuesday.

Jayda Fransen appeared at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday on two hate charges related to a speech she made at a Northern Ireland Against Terrorism rally in the city in August.

She denies the charges.

The 31-year-old will go on trial on April 6th, district judge Fiona Bagnall said.

She is also fighting separate claims that she incited racial hatred by anti-Islamic remarks at peace wall in the Shankill on her return to Belfast last month.

Ms Fransen, of Beeches Close in Anerly, London, appeared back before magistrates in the city for an update on the cases.

Defence counsel Richard McConkey confirmed his client is pleading not guilty to both sets of charges.

Ms Fransen made no comment during the brief hearing. About a dozen supporters gathered in the public gallery, while five police officers provided security outside.

Judge Bagnall agreed to set aside a special day for the trial over Fransen’s alleged comments on August 6th last year.

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

Ms Fransen faces two counts of behaviour intended to or likely to stir up hatred in connection with her attendance at that rally.

Britain First leader Paul Golding, is due to appear in court on similar charges arising from the same event.

Following Ms Fransen’s first appearance last month she was arrested again and charged with four further offences allegedly committed on December 13th.

The charges include using threatening language or behaviour with intent to stir up hatred or provoke a breach of the peace, and sending menacing or grossly offensive messages by a public electronic communications network.

Police claim she made anti-Islamic comments by urging people to “rise up against the biggest threat to the entire world” in a video posted on Britain First’s Facebook page.

Ms Fransen, who is currently banned from being within 500 metres of any demonstration or procession as part of bail conditions, will face a separate trial over those allegations. A date for that trial is expected to be fixed at a further review on January 26th.

She was released on continuing bail.