|Leader of Britain First|
December 2016 – June 2017
|Preceded by||Paul Golding|
|Succeeded by||Paul Golding|
|Deputy Leader of Britain First|
July 2014 – January 2019
Jayda Kaleigh Fransen
|Political party||British Freedom Party (2018–present)|
|Britain First (2011–2018)|
|Criminal charge(s)||Religiously aggravated harassment|
|Criminal penalty||36 weeks imprisonment|
Jayda Kaleigh Fransen (34–35) is a British activist and politician. Formerly involved with the English Defence League (EDL), she left due to its association with drink-fuelled violence. She then joined the far-right fascist political organisation Britain First. With Paul Golding as Leader, Fransen served as Deputy Leader from 2014 to 2019. She became acting leader for six months from December 2016 to June 2017, while Golding was imprisoned in December 2016.
Fransen was an unsuccessful candidate in the 2014 Rochester and Strood by-election and 2016 London Assembly election. In addition to online anti-Islamic activism, she has marched while holding a white cross, in what she called "Christian patrols", through predominantly Muslim populated areas of Britain. In March 2018, she was sentenced to 36 weeks imprisonment after being convicted of three counts of religiously aggravated harassment.
Leadership of Britain First
Britain First, formed in 2011, is a British fascist political party founded by Jim Dowson. Paul Golding became the leader following the resignation of Dowson, and during this time Fransen was the deputy leader of the party. Golding handed over the leadership role to Fransen in November 2016 due to his being sentenced to 2 months in prison for breaching a court order, although Fransen stated that his leave was in order "to address some important, personal family issues". Fransen stepped down from her leadership role in January 2019 and left the party.
In a May 2019 BBC Northern Ireland Spotlight documentary, Fransen accused Paul Golding of violent abuse.
Rochester and Strood by-election, 2014
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.
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. 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.
London mayoral and Assembly elections, 2016
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!" Golding turned his back on the podium when the election of Sadiq Khan as mayor was announced; and neither Golding nor Fransen was successful as a candidate in the London Assembly election, held simultaneously to the mayoral election.
British Freedom Party
2016 conviction and arrest
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. 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".
2017 arrests and conviction
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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
On 29 March 2019, Fransen was convicted of stirring up hatred at the Belfast rally and for separate comments at a peace wall. The other defendants Paul Golding, John Banks and Paul Rimmer, were acquitted on similar charges. Fransen was sentenced to 180 hours community service.
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.
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". The usual procedure is that only offenders sentenced to a year or more in custody have their mugshots released.
Following her release, Jayda left Britain First and formed the British Freedom Party, following an admission by Paul Golding that he attacked Fransen.
Donald Trump retweets and Twitter suspension
On 29 November 2017, President of the United States Donald Trump caused controversy when he retweeted three anti-Muslim videos shared by Fransen on her Twitter account. 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!" Fransen later posted a video of herself requesting Trump to assist her in a forthcoming court case in Belfast. 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."
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. 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. 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.
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".
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. As a result of the ban, Fransen and Golding joined the Gab social networking service, and urged their followers to do likewise.
2014 Rochester and Strood by-election
|Date of election||Constituency||Party||Votes||%||Source(s)|
|20 November 2014||Rochester and Strood||Britain First||56||0.1|||
- Rochester and Strood Constituency Parliamentary By-Election 20 November 2014 Result of Poll. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
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- Sarah Marsh, "Britain First signs up to fringe social media site after Twitter ban", The Guardian, 20 December 2017.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Jayda Fransen|
- Jayda Fransen Official website
- 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.