Britain First Deputy leader in court on hate speech charges

Deputy leader of the far right group Britain First Jayda Fransen arrives at Belfast Laganside courts to face charges on an alleged hate speech that took place in Belfast in August
Deputy leader of the far right group Britain First Jayda Fransen arrives at Belfast Laganside courts to face charges on an alleged hate speech that took place in Belfast in August

The deputy leader of far-right group Britain First has appeared in court accused of behaviour intended or likely to stir up hatred.

Jayda Fransen, from Anerley in south-east London, has been charged with using words which were threatening, abusive or insulting during a speech in Belfast in the summer.

The 31-year-old entered the dock at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

It follows comments she made at a demonstration outside Belfast City Hall in August.

She was arrested by Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detectives in London last month.

Her case was adjourned until later on Thursday to hear a bail application.

Around a dozen people in the public gallery watched her appearance.

A detective constable told the court she could connect the accused to the charges.

The court also heard from a lawyer: “The bulk of the evidence is presumably by way of video footage.

“There do seem to be transcripts of this speech which the Crown will say constitutes the offences.”

The officer said she was seeking conditions on the accused’s bail because of a planned rally on December 10 which was postponed.

“We were concerned that there would be further offences.”

She said the rally had been suspended but added that police wanted to prevent her participation in a public rally.

Fransen’s lawyer said: “This lady is as entitled to free expression within the law as anyone else.

“If there is an offence she will be arrested like everyone else.”

He said she had stood for election and was a politician.

“The idea that she be prevented from speaking in my respectful submission is completely disproportionate.”

The officer said police were seeking a further condition regarding the defendant’s use of social media and the likelihood of reoffending.