Jayda Fransen

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Jayda Fransen
Deputy leader of Britain First
Assumed office
2014
Personal details
Born Jayda Kaleigh Fransen
Political party Britain First
Occupation Activist, politician

Jayda Kaleigh Fransen is the deputy leader of Britain First,[1] a far-right British fascist[2][3][4] political organisation in the United Kingdom, and served as its acting leader for six months after incumbent leader Paul Golding was imprisoned in December 2016. In addition to online anti-Islamic activism, she has sometimes marched while holding a white cross, in "Christian patrols" through predominantly Muslim districts of British towns.[5][6]

In March 2018, Fransen was sentenced to 36 weeks imprisonment after being convicted of three counts of religiously aggravated harassment.[7]

Fransen had formerly been involved with the English Defence League, but left due to its association with violence.[8]

She was an unsuccessful candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election, 2014, and the London Assembly election, 2016.

Political career[edit]

Leadership of Britain First[edit]

Britain First, formed in 2011, is a British fascist[2][3][4] political party founded by Paul Golding and Jim Dowson. Golding became the leader following the resignation of Dowson,[9] and during this time Fransen was the deputy leader of the party.[10] Golding handed over the leadership role in Britain First to Fransen in November 2016 due to his being sentenced to 2 months in prison for breaching a court order,[11] although Fransen stated that the leave was in order "to address some important, personal family issues".[12][13]

Rochester and Strood by-election, 2014[edit]

Fransen stood as Britain First's first parliamentary candidate for the Rochester and Strood by-election on 20 November 2014, during which she expressed sympathy for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and its candidate Mark Reckless (a Conservative MP who had switched allegiances to UKIP), who went on to win the seat.[14]

Britain First's campaign for the by-election drew attention when the party uploaded a photo of Fransen together with local activists from UKIP, who responded by saying that the activists were not aware of the implications of the photograph, while Fransen said that the UKIP activists asked for the photo and that she was under the impression that there were strong similarities between the two parties.[15] The BBC presenter Nick Robinson was also criticised for his selfie with Fransen during the by-election. Robinson claimed not to know who Fransen was and denied supporting her policies.[16]

London mayoral and Assembly elections, 2016[edit]

On 27 September 2015, Paul Golding announced that he would stand as a candidate in the 2016 London mayoral election. In a Facebook post on the decision, Fransen wrote that the party's "pro-EU, Islamist-loving opponents" will "face the wrath of the Britain First movement ... We will not rest until every traitor is punished for their crimes against our country. And by punished, I mean good old fashioned British justice at the end of a rope!"[17] Golding turned his back on the podium when the election of Sadiq Khan as mayor was announced; and neither Golding nor Fransen were successful as candidates in the London Assembly election, held simultaneously to the mayoral election.[18]

Legal issues[edit]

2016 conviction and arrest[edit]

After one of Britain First's "Christian patrols" in Luton, in November 2016, Fransen was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment and ordered to pay a fine of £1,000 after she harassed a Muslim mother of four who was wearing a hijab. In addition, she was also fined £200 for breaching the Public Order Act 1936 by wearing a political uniform and ordered to pay £620 in costs (including a £100 victim surcharge), and issued with a two-year restraining order to prevent her from contacting the victim or engaging in intimidating behaviour towards her. Fransen had denied all charges, accusing the courts of being "absurd", and engaging in "a really clear display of Islamic appeasement".[19]

2017 arrests[edit]

In September 2017, Fransen was arrested with Golding and charged with religious harassment. They were bailed and ordered to appear before Medway magistrates on 17 October 2017. Their arrests followed an investigation by Kent Police into the distribution of leaflets in the Thanet and Canterbury areas, and the posting of online videos during a trial at Canterbury Crown Court in May 2017.[20] On 14 October 2017, following a broadcast on Radio Aryan, Fransen was re-arrested and detained overnight at a protest in Sunderland for breaking the terms of her bail.[21] On 17 October 2017, after Fransen and Golding pleaded not guilty before Medway magistrates, their case was adjourned until a hearing at Folkstone Magistrates' Court on 29 January 2018 and they were both ordered to report weekly at Bromley Police Station.[22]

On 18 November 2017, Fransen was arrested in London by detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland in relation to a speech she had made at a rally outside Belfast City Hall on 6 August.[23] She was charged with employing "threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour" under the Public Order 1987 (Northern Ireland) Public Order act and on 14 December appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court, where she pleaded not guilty.[24] Fransen was immediately re-arrested outside the court and charged the following day over anti-Islamic comments posted online in a video filmed on 13 December at a peace wall separating Catholic and Protestant communities in West Belfast; she was ordered to appear in court on 9 January 2018 and released on bail, subject to an exclusion order from all processions and demonstrations in Northern Ireland.[25]

The trial is due to begin in April 2018 for all three offences mentioned above. Leader Paul Golding will also appear charged with one count under the Public Order 1987 (Northern Ireland) Public Order act relating to the Rally in August 2017. They will both appear from custody having been imprisoned in March 2018.

2018 conviction[edit]

On 7 March 2018, Fransen and Golding were found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment at Folkestone magistrates' court, as a result of an investigation concerning the distribution of leaflets in 2017 in the Thanet and Canterbury areas. The pair were convicted over an incident at a takeaway in Ramsgate, Kent, during which Fransen screamed "paedophile" and "foreigner", while Fransen was also convicted for approaching an address she believed to belong to a Muslim defendant on a rape trial. They were both sentenced to prison, with 36 weeks for Fransen and 18 weeks for Golding.[26]

Unusually, Kent Police released mugshots of Fransen and Golding, taken when they were originally in custody, because of "the nature of the offences committed and the impact they had on the wider community". Usual procedure is that only offenders sentenced to a year or more in custody have their mugshots released.[27]

Donald Trump retweets[edit]

On 29 November 2017, US president Donald Trump caused controversy when he retweeted three anti-Muslim videos shared by Fransen on her Twitter account.[28] She responded on Twitter in capital letters, "The President of the United States, Donald Trump, has retweeted three of Deputy Leader Jayda Fransen’s Twitter videos! Donald Trump himself has retweeted these videos and has around 44 million followers! God bless you Trump! God bless America!"[5][29] Fransen later posted a video of herself requesting Trump to assist her in a forthcoming court case in Belfast.[30] She is reported as saying, "The leader of the free world has signified his disgust at an elected leader being arrested and possibly facing two years in prison over an Islamic blasphemy law. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have laws where you can't speak out about Islam. The UK doesn't."[5]

The three Islamophobic videos tweeted by Fransen were inflammatory and unverified—she has a history of posting misleading videos. Describing herself on her Twitter account as "faithful to God and Britannia", she had made over 15,000 tweets since opening the account in mid-2016.[5][31] One of the videos (titled "Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!") purported to show an assault by a Muslim immigrant. According to the Dutch embassy in the US, the teenage perpetrator was "born and raised in the Netherlands"; and the embassy later confirmed that he was not Muslim.[32] Another video ("Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!") was filmed during the Syrian Civil War in 2013 and showed a man, who is believed to be an Al-Nusra supporter, destroying a statue of Mary. The third video ("Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!") contained footage in Alexandria, Egypt during a period of violent unrest following the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état: it showed supporters of the deposed President Mohammed Morsi attacking one of his critics.[33]

Prime Minister Theresa May condemned Trump's retweets of the anti-Muslim videos, stating that "it is wrong for the president to have done this", and, "Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions".[34]

On 18 December 2017, Twitter permanently suspended the accounts of Fransen and Golding, together with the official account of Britain First, as part of its general policy towards any groups which glorify violence or use hate-inciting imagery to fulfill their goals. The company's stated aim in enforcing such bans was to "reduce the amount of abusive behaviour and hateful conduct" on the web. Permanent suspension of an account would result whenever the profile contained "a violent threat or multiple slurs, epithets, racist or sexist tropes, incite[d] fear, or reduce[d] someone to less than human". The three retweets by Trump have been removed as a consequence of Fransen's ban.[35] As a result of the ban, Fransen and Golding joined the Gab social networking service, and urged their followers to do likewise.[36]

Electoral history[edit]

UK Parliament elections

Date of election Constituency Party Votes % Source(s)
20 November 2014 by-election Rochester and Strood Britain First 56 0.1 [37]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "East London Mosque And Muslim Aid Donate 10 Tonnes Of Food To Homeless". HuffPost. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Bienkov, Adam (19 June 2014). "Britain First: The violent new face of British fascism". Politics.co.uk. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Foxton, Willard (4 November 2014). "The loathsome Britain First are trying to hijack the poppy – don't let them". The Telegraph. 
  4. ^ a b Sabin, Lamiat (25 October 2014). "'Fascist' group Britain First to start 'direct action' on Mail and Sun journalists over Lynda Bellingham post". The Independent. 
  5. ^ a b c d Mendick, Robert (29 November 2017). "Deputy leader of far-Right group Jayda Fransen gleefully wages a one-woman Twitter war against Islam". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  6. ^ York, Chris (2 November 2016). "Jayda Fransen Trial Hears Britain First Deputy Leader 'Abused Muslim Woman'". HuffPost. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  7. ^ "Britain First leader and deputy leader jailed for hate crimes". BBC News. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018. 
  8. ^ We Want Our Country Back, 3:30: "Jayda told me she used to be part of the EDL, but left because of their reputation for drink-fuelled violence."
  9. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (28 July 2014). "Britain First founder Jim Dowson quits over mosque invasions and". The Independent. 
  10. ^ "Britain First deputy leader guilty of hurling abuse at Muslim woman". Evening Standard. 3 November 2016. 
  11. ^ "Ex-Britain First leader Paul Golding jailed over mosque ban", BBC News, 15 December 2016
  12. ^ Fransen, Jayda (21 December 2016). Paul Golding in Muslim-run PRISON! A message from Jayda Fransen. Britain First. 
  13. ^ Gable, Gerry (1 December 2016). "More questions than answers: a Searchlight investigation". Searchlight. Retrieved 7 December 2016. 
  14. ^ Helm, Toby; Cowburn, Ashley (15 November 2014). "We will lose Rochester and Strood byelection, admits senior Conservative". The Guardian. 
    - Hope, Christopher (21 November 2014). "Mark Reckless wins Rochester by-election for Ukip with 2,900 majority". The Daily Telegraph. 
  15. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (28 October 2014). "Britain First accuses Ukip of 'playing political game' with snub over Rochester photo". The Independent. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Swinford, Steven (21 November 2014). "Nick Robinson apologises for Britain First 'selfie'". The Daily Telegraph. 
  17. ^ York, Chris (27 September 2015). "Britain First's Paul Golding To Stand In London Mayoral Election". HuffPost. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  18. ^ York, Chris (6 May 2016). "Britain First's Terrible London Election Results Celebrated By Paul Golding And Jayda Fransen". HuffPost. Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  19. ^ Press Association (3 November 2016). "Deputy leader of Britain First guilty over verbal abuse of Muslim woman". The Guardian. 
    - Cobain, Ian (4 November 2016). "RE teacher who posted Islamophobic comments struck off". The Guardian. 
  20. ^ "Britain First leaders charged with religious harassment". BBC News. 20 September 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  21. ^ "Jayda Fransen, Britain First Deputy Leader, Arrested In Sunderland After Neo-Nazi Radio Appearance". HuffPost. 15 October 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017. 
  22. ^ "Britain First changes plans for rally in Bromley". Halesowen News. 3 November 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017. 
  23. ^ D'Arcy, Scott (19 November 2017). "Jayda Fransen: Deputy leader of far-right group Britain First arrested over speech in Belfast". The Independent. Press Association. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  24. ^ "Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen charged". BBC News. 19 November 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  25. ^ "Britain First's Jayda Fransen appears in Belfast court". BBC News. 15 December 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
    - "Britain First deputy head Jayda Fransen released on bail over comments on Islam". The Belfast Telegraph. 15 December 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  26. ^ "Britain First leaders jailed over anti-Muslim hate crimes". The Guardian Online. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2018. 
  27. ^ Lizzie Dearden (9 March 2018). "Britain First leaders jailed: Police release mugshots of Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding because of impact on community". The Independent. Retrieved 9 March 2018. 
  28. ^ "Trump Twitter account retweets incendiary videos". BBC News Online. 29 November 2017. 
  29. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (29 November 2017). "Donald Trump retweets Britain First deputy leader's Islamophobic posts". The Independent. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  30. ^ "Far-right hatemongers cheer Trump's Twitter endorsement". The Guardian. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2017. 
  31. ^ Ashley Parker & John Wagner, Trump retweets inflammatory and unverified anti-Muslim videos Archived 29 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine., Washington Post, 29 November 2017.
  32. ^ "Videos tweeted by Trump: where are they from and what do they really show?". The Guardian. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
    - "How Trump uses Twitter storms to make the political weather". The Guardian. 2 December 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  33. ^ Lawless, Jill (29 November 2017). "Trump's Muslim retweets draw fire from US and abroad". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 30 November 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017. 
    - Harrison, Angus (29 November 2017). "The Truth Behind Those Anti-Muslim Videos Donald Trump Just Retweeted". Vice. Archived from the original on 30 November 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
    - Staff writer (29 November 2017). "Trump account retweets anti-Muslim videos". BBC News. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  34. ^ Smith, Saphora (30 November 2017). "British PM May issues rare rebuke of Trump for retweeting anti-Muslim videos". NBC News. Retrieved 30 November 2017. 
    - Masters, James; Landers, Elizabeth (29 November 2017). "Trump retweets anti-Muslim videos". CNN. Archived from the original on 29 November 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  35. ^ "Twitter suspends Britain First leaders". BBC News. 18 December 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2017. 
    "Twitter bans Britain First leaders after anti-Muslim videos shared by Donald Trump". The Daily Telegraph. 18 December 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2017. 
    "Britain First's Jayda Fransen And Paul Golding Suspended From Twitter Amid Crackdown On 'Hateful Conduct'". HuffPost. 18 December 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2017. 
  36. ^ Sarah Marsh, "Britain First signs up to fringe social media site after Twitter ban", The Guardian, 20 December 2017.
  37. ^ "Rochester: Farage looks to more UKIP gains after success", BBC News, 21 November 2014

External links[edit]

Research quoted in York, Chris (28 December 2015). "Someone Researched The Family Tree Of Britain First's Deputy Leader And It's A Bit Awkward". HuffPost.