Sunderland Brexit supporter jailed for inciting racial hatred
William Charlton receives 21-month sentence for anti-immigrant speeches at rallies
William Charlton was sentenced to 21 months at Newcastle Crown Court for five counts of inciting racial hatred after speaking at a series of marches between September 2016 and July 2017. Photograph: Northumbria Police/PA Wire
William Charlton, whose image featured prominently when the city became the first to declare in favour of Leave, shouted to jury members “I hope your daughters don’t get raped” after he was sentenced.
Charlton, known as Billy, spoke alongside Tommy Robinson at one of a series of events organised after a local woman alleged she was raped by foreign men.
That was thoroughly investigated by police but resulted in no charges being brought, the court was told.
Supporters in the public gallery cheered him as he was led away.
Passing sentence, the judge said: “You have been revealed as an intelligent, articulate, skilled public speaker, but also a manipulative bully in my judgment.
“You propelled the [justice campaign for the woman] with rhetoric and misrepresentations, and the jury have found an agenda of racist hatred.”
Charlton, of Byland Court, Glebe, Washington, was convicted of five counts of inciting racial hatred after speaking at a series of marches between September 2016 and July 2017.
The prosecution said the defendant equated immigrants with rapists and wanted his audience to do the same.
He also claimed Northumbria Police was not protecting women.
The judge said Charlton claimed in one speech that “Sunderland women were being raped, drugged and abused by cowardly immigrants”.
‘Aggressive from the outset’
He had a meeting with a police superintendent who tried to tell him that what he was saying about the woman being raped at an address in Sunderland was not borne out by the evidence.
The officer said Charlton was “aggressive from the outset” and was set in his views.
The speeches at marches continued and were filmed and shared on the internet, the judge said.
The judge said Charlton’s criticism of the police, even though he knew they had thoroughly investigated the woman’s claims, reduced the public’s confidence and would put victims off from coming forward.
The judge told him: “You are not on trial for your political views or being a member of any party, or for anti-immigration views. You are entitled to hold them.
“This is a trial about racial hatred. The jury has found your speeches were intended to, or likely to, stir up racial hatred.”
The woman at the centre of the claims cannot be identified as she is a complainant in an allegation of a sexual offence.
Glenn Gatland, defending, said Charlton had become frustrated by what he saw, rightly or wrongly, as police failures in that case.
He said his client did not incite violence and had urged the watching crowd to leave peacefully. – PA