Britain First leader Paul Golding gets suspended sentence for REFUSING to give police his phone’s PIN code at Heathrow when he returned from a trip to Moscow
- Paul Golding was stopped by Met Police officers at Heathrow Airport in October
- The 38-year-old was on way back from visiting the Russian parliament, Moscow
- The Britain First leader refused to give the pins for phone, hard drive and laptop
- He was later charged with refusing to comply with duty under the Terrorism Act
- He was found guilty following trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London
- EDL founder Tommy Robinson watched the proceedings in court’s public gallery
Britain First leader Paul Golding has been found guilty of an offence under the Terrorism Act after refusing to give police access to his mobile phone on his return from a political trip to Russia.
The 38-year-old from Stockport was stopped at Heathrow Airport on October 23 on his way back from Moscow by officers from the Metropolitan Police.
He refused to give the PINs for an iPhone and Apple computer and was later charged with wilfully refusing to comply with a duty under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act.
Golding denied the charge but was found guilty of the offence following a trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Wednesday.
English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, watched the proceedings in the court’s socially distanced public gallery.
Britain First leader Paul Golding (pictured leaving court in Westminster this afternoon) has been found guilty of an offence under the Terrorism Act
The former BNP councillor is pictured today arriving at the magistrates’ court in London to face the charge
Golding was pictured flanked by officers (left) and was joined by English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson (right)
Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot ruled there was ‘no doubt’ Golding had failed to comply with requests for information, despite his obligations being explained to him and being warned ‘over and over’ if he did not he risked arrest.
She handed Golding a conditional discharge for nine months and ordered him to pay a £21 surcharge and £750 in costs.
Giving evidence earlier, Pc Rory O’Connor, a borders officer with the Met who questioned Golding, told the court Schedule 7 enables accredited officers to ‘speak to people in order to make a determination of whether they are or have been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism’.
The officer explained it also permitted police to interrogate, search and detain anyone for up to six hours at UK ports.
The 38-year-old made victory symbols (pictured) ahead of the half-day trial but was found guilty
He said he had cause to examine Golding under the legislation and recalled him being initially ‘agitated’ and ‘clearly angry’ at being stopped, with him shouting at officers.
Prosecutor Samuel Main said for nearly three hours Golding was questioned about his activities in Russia after flying out with two others on October 20.
The court heard Golding said he was on a ‘purely political trip’ after establishing friendships in Russia during an international congress on an earlier date.
What is Britain First?
The far-right political organisation was founded in 2011 by former BNP members. The group focuses on the ‘preservation of traditional British culture’ and rejects what it calls the ‘Islamisation of the UK’.
It ran as a political party for elections to the House of Commons, European Parliament and for the Mayor of London. It was unsuccessful in them all. The Electoral Commission deregistered it as a political party in November 2017.
He told officers he had returned to the country under the invitation of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), which he described as a ‘right wing, conservative, patriotic group’ who were not ‘extreme’.
Golding said they were a ‘political party not a mob’ and ‘if they incited violence then Britain First wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole’.
He said he had not met any representative of the Russian government, the court heard.
Golding appeared in the dock wearing a grey suit, white shirt and red tie, and spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth, address and nationality.
Over the course of his three-day trip, Golding gave interviews to the media, met members of the LDPR and visited the Russian parliament, Mr Main said.
He also visited Moscow’s Red Square and laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier.
Golding was quizzed on the LDPR’s policies which he said covered the issues of terrorism, Islamic extremism, immigration and family values.
Robinson arrived at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London to support Golding today
He described Britain First as a ‘patriotic, right-wing, conservative’ group who considered themselves as ‘loyalist’.
In clips of an audio recording of the interview played in court, Golding said the request for his pin codes was ‘wildly inappropriate’, ‘completely unjustified’, represented an ‘abuse of police powers’ and was a ‘political witch hunt’.
Mr Main said he told officers they ‘hadn’t asked him about terrorism or criminality and he was simply a politician’.
Golding added: ‘I don’t think think you have any grounds to suspect me of terrorism in any way shape or form’.
Representing Golding, Abigail Bright said Britain First had never been a banned organisation.
There was a huge police presence outside the court in Westminster (pictured) during the trial
She said Golding had been ‘calm, compliant and respectful’ during questioning under what she claimed was a ‘predetermined operation’.
Ms Bright said he was ‘tired’ and had not wilfully disobeyed a lawful instruction and that evidence from officers left the court ‘none too wiser’ as to whether they had ‘screened against’ Schedule 7 being used ‘in an arbitrary way’.
She highlighted that she had put to Pc O’Connor that as a political leader there was a ‘real possibility’ Golding’s devices held sensitive information, for example membership lists.
As a politician, she said he was ‘entitled to expect enhanced protection for his rights of speech, assembly, association’.
Mr Main said at ‘no point’ had Golding mentioned there being ‘sensitive material’ on his devices, which might have offered him some protection.
Golding was a BNP Sevenoaks District councillor for St Mary’s Ward in Swanley, Kent, between 2009 and 2011.
He stood in the 2010 general election, for Wales in the 2014 European Parliamentary election and in the London mayoral election in 2016. He was unsuccessful in them.
Britain First was deregistered as a political party in November 2017.