Britain First leaders to pay damages over Halal Food Authority terror funding claims

Ruling comes as Electoral Commission agrees to relist the far-right group as a political party

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 29, 2018 Far-right group Britain First leader Paul Golding (R) and deputy leader Jayda Fransen arrive at Folkestone magristrates court in Kent on January 29, 2018.
The deputy leader of far-right group Britain First, who hit the headlines after US President Donald Trump retweeted anti-Muslim videos she posted, was jailed on March 7, 2018 for 36 weeks for religiously-aggravated harassment. Jayda Fransen, 31, filmed and posted online videos of people who she wrongly believed were defendants in a rape trial at Canterbury Crown Court in May 2017, 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.
 / AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL

The leader and deputy leader of the far-right organisation Britain First have agreed to pay “substantial damages” to settle a libel claim after they falsely alleged that the Halal Food Authority and its two employees were involved in funding terrorism.

Paul Golding and his deputy Jayda Fransen made the false claims against the authority, which inspects food and drink to ensure compliance with Halal principles and practices, in two videos which were published to a large number of their followers on various social media platforms in February 2017.

They made similar “wholly untrue and defamatory” allegations about Salahudeen Kara, a former auditor and technical manager for the HFA, and Tanveer Parkar, who was the head of market development and customer relations.

Both men and the HFA sued Golding and Fransen for libel and breach of the Data Protection Act, and the case was settled after the Britain First leaders agreed to pay damages.

Ben Gallop, representing the HFA, Mr Kara and Mr Parkar, told Justice Matthew Nicklin during a brief hearing at the High Court in London on Monday that the videos, which have since been removed from websites, alleged involvement in the clandestine funding of terrorist organisations such as ISIS.

“This caused real distress for Mr Kara and Mr Parkar, both of whom feared for their safety as a result of the publication of the videos to a very substantial number of the defendants’ followers,” he said.

“This incident had a detrimental impact on their personal lives and their integrity was questioned by family and members of the wider community.”

Mr Gallop said Golding and Fransen offered no defence to the claim, but agreed to pay an undisclosed sum and not to repeat their false allegations.

“There was never any basis for the defendants’ allegations, and their unequivocal capitulation in the face of the claimants’ claim puts that beyond doubt,” he said.

“Mr Kara and Mr Parkar have been vindicated and have achieved all of their objectives in bringing the claim.”

Britain First, which campaigns against immigration, was a political party from 2010 until it was deregistered by the Electoral Commission in 2017 after failing to renew its registration on time.

The UK's Electoral Commission relisted the group as a political party despite its leader Golding being convicted under the Terrorism Act last year.

The application had been turned down eight times until this week when the Commission confirmed it had approved the group as a political party again.

“We assessed this application against the criteria set out in law, including consideration of public comments submitted to us,” the Electoral Commission said.

People hold the Union Flag whilst attending a Britain First rally as deputy leader Jayda Fransen (L) looks on, in Rochester, Britain November 15, 2014. Picture taken November 15, 2014.   REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

“The party’s application met the legal criteria and the party has therefore been registered.”

The body, which imposed a fine of £44,000 on Britain First in 2019 for failing to declare donations, does not consider a group’s political views when deciding whether or not to register a party.

Last year, Golding, 39, was convicted of an offence under the Terrorism Act after he refused to give pin codes for an iPhone and Apple computer to police officers in 2019 when he was stopped at Heathrow Airport on his return from Moscow.

In 2018, both he and Fransen, 35, were convicted of religiously aggravated harassment.

Golding was jailed for 18 weeks and Fransen for 36 weeks.

In 2019, Facebook banned Britain First, Golding and Fransen from its platform.

Updated: September 28th 2021, 12:32 PM
EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS