Jayda Fransen

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Jayda Fransen
Deputy leader of Britain First
Assumed office
2014
Personal details
Born Jayda Kaleigh Fransen
Germany
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 Paul Golding was imprisoned in December 2016. In addition to online anti-Islamic activism, she has regularly marched, brandishing a white cross, in "Christian patrols" through predominantly Muslim districts of British towns.[5][6]

In March 2018, Fransen was imprisoned 36 weeks for religiously aggravated harassment.[7]

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

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

Political career

Leadership of Britain First

Britain First is a British fascist[2][3][4] former political party founded by Paul Golding and Jim Dowson. Despite being stripped of its status as a political party by the Electoral Commission, it still falsely purports to be one. 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 roles in Britain First to Fransen in November 2016.[11] Fransen claimed that Golding was taking 6 months leave as leader of the organisation "to address some important, personal family issues".[12]

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, who went on to win the seat.[13]

Britain First's campaign for the by-election drew attention when the party uploaded a photo of Fransen together with local activists from the UKIP. UKIP 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.[14] 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.[15]

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!"[16] 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.[17]

Legal issues

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. 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".[18]

2017 arrests

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.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] On 7 March 2018, she was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment and sentenced to 36 weeks imprisonment, her co-defendant Golding receiving 18 weeks.[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

On 7 March 2018, Fransen and Golding were found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment at Folkestone magistrate’s 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 a mistaken address she believed to belong to a Muslim defendant on a rape trial. They were both sentenced to prison, with 36 months 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

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

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

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External links

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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>