LONDON - AFP-Jiji
The deputy leader of far-right group Britain First, who hit the headlines after U.S. President Donald Trump retweeted anti-Muslim videos she posted, was jailed Wednesday for 36 weeks for religiously aggravated harassment.
Jayda Fransen, 31, filmed and posted online videos of people whom she wrongly believed were defendants in a rape trial at Canterbury Crown Court in May last year, in a case that led to the conviction of three Muslim men and a teenager.
Britain First leader Paul Golding, 36, was also found guilty and jailed for 18 weeks.
The pair also posted offensive leaflets to houses in the area where the defendants lived.
Judge Justin Barron at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court said Golding and Franson had “demonstrated hostility” toward the Muslim faith.
“I have no doubt it was their joint intention to use the facts of the case (in Canterbury) for their own political ends,” he added.
“It was a campaign to draw attention to the race, religion and immigrant background of the defendants.”
Prosecutor Jaswant Narwal said the case had demonstrated Golding and Franson “were not merely exercising their right to free speech but were instead aiming religiously aggravated abuse at innocent members of the public.”
“The victims suffered the distress of the abuse followed by additional stress when the footage was uploaded to the internet,” he added.
Trump’s sharing in November of three inflammatory anti-Muslim videos posted by Britain First, unrelated to the videos in the Folkestone trial, sparked a diplomatic spat with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The retweeting of the controversial videos led to renewed calls for Trump’s planned state visit to the U.K. to be cancelled.
He later made a rare apology, claiming he did not know the group’s background before retweeting.