Jayda Fransen, 31, the deputy leader of the controversial political party Britain First may be sent to jail for 3 years – so announced their leader to Facebook in a video.
The charges regard a speech Fransen gave at the “Northern Ireland Against Terrorism” rally in August in Belfast, where she was critical of Islam – an action deemed by the judge to have used “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” intended to or likely to stir up hatred.
Fransen’s barrister, Richard McConkey, branded the curbs on her freedom of speech, as a politician, as disproportionate.
He 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.”
Yesterday, Fransen, from Anerley in south-east London, was re-arrested in Belfast, by Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), as she was arriving at Laganside Courts in the city. She was arrested because on Wednesday she posted a tweet showing her criticise Islam as she stood beside a peace wall in Belfast.
The PSNI said: ‘Detectives investigating an incident at a peace wall in Belfast on Wednesday 14 December have arrested a 31-year-old woman in the Belfast area today.’
She was allegedly involved in a video recorded outside Belfast’s Islamic Centre with Councillor Jolene Bunting, in which the Britain First deputy referred to it as a “den of iniquity”.
A detective constable told the court 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 added.
Her lawyer told the court she intended to plead not guilty. However, according to a video released by their party leader, Paul Golding, it would seem that she rejected the bail terms. The restrictions required her not to speak at any protests in Ulster.
There is a question as to validity of claims the state will ban her from using Facebook. District Judge Fiona Bagnall expressed doubts about whether her jurisdiction extended to the accused’s social media use.
She went on Twitter within minutes of her release on bail and said it was a “nonsense charge”.
“I criticise Islam and now they want to send me to prison for two years.”
McConkey expressed that Fransen had stood for election and was a politician. “The idea that she be prevented from speaking in my respectful submission is completely disproportionate.”
Detectives from the PSNI also detained yesterday the leader of the group, Paul Golding, 35, who was there accompanying his colleague ahead of the hearing. He was let out on bail.