Police have released photos showing the leaders of far-right extremist group Britain First in custody because of the effect their hate crimes had on the local community.
Kent Police’s rules stipulate that mugshots are normally released for convicts jailed for a year or more, but a spokesperson said Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen were an exception.
“Due to the nature of the offences committed and the impact they had on the wider community, we believe it is in the public interest to make these available,” he said.
Fransen was jailed for 36 weeks and Golding for 18 weeks after they were convicted on several counts of religiously-aggravated harassment following a trial at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court.
They were arrested in May after harassing and abusing people they incorrectly believed were involved in an ongoing rape trial.
The pair distributed leaflets and posted videos, endangering an ongoing trial at Canterbury Crown Court where three Muslim men and a teenager were later convicted and jailed.
Judge Justin Barron said their words and actions “demonstrated hostility” towards Muslims and Islam, and prosecutors warned that Fransen and Golding could have caused the case to collapse.
“I have no doubt it was their joint intention to use the facts of the case for their own political ends,” the judge said.
“It was a campaign to draw attention to the race, religion and immigrant background of the defendants.”
Kent Police recorded at least three days of abuse. One saw Golding film Fransen attempting to enter a fast food restaurant near where the defendants had gang raped a 16-year-old girl and shouting abuse at the people inside.
But the man, a woman and two teenage girls targeted were not involved in the trial and had not committed any criminal offences.
Days later, Fransen banged on the front door of a house where one of the defendants lived and shouted abuse while his partner and her two young children were inside, then posted footage online.
In the video played in court, Fransen could be seen shouting: “Come out and face me you disgusting rapist, come on.”
The following day, a “vulnerable” man from Canterbury learned that a video had been posted online in which his address was wrongly identified as the home of one of the men on trial.
Leaflets entitled “Exposing Muslim Rapist” had been posted through his front door and those of his neighbours, forcing him to move house because he feared for his safety.
Detective Inspector Bill Thornton said Golding and Fransen’s crimes were “abhorrent and motivated by religious insensitivities”.
“They claimed to be exposing the men who had been accused of rape when in reality they knew little about the case in question and could have put the trial at risk due to their reckless actions,” he added.
“It was the bravery of the female who was attacked and the tireless work of Kent Police detectives who ensured the men responsible are now serving a significant period of time behind bars, not because of any misguided attempt by Golding and Fransen to claim credit for their conviction by bringing religion into the equation.
“The fact that completely innocent members of the public were accused of being rapists, making them fear for their own safety, shows how little regard they have for the consequences of their actions.
“Kent Police simply will not tolerate any offences that are motivated by prejudice and hate.”
Golding, 36, was convicted of one count of religiously aggravated harassment and acquitted on two others.
His deputy, 32-year-old Fransen, was found guilty of three counts of the same offence and cleared of one.
Fransen had denied all charges and claimed she did not use the phrase “Muslim bastards”, or say that all Muslims are rapists.
Golding also denied the charges and said he was only acting as Fransen's cameraman.
The “campaign” was one of a series of similar stunts by Britain First, which selectively highlights crimes it believes to be convicted by defendants from Muslim backgrounds.
The Finsbury Park terror attacker, Darren Osborne, read Britain First posts before his attempted massacre of Muslim worshippers, while neo-Nazi Thomas Mair repeatedly shouted the group’s name while murdering Labour MP Jo Cox.
The group gained international notoriety when Donald Trump shared several of Fransen’s Twitter posts last year, sparking a diplomatic row after Theresa May condemned the action.
Both Fransen and Golding have since been banned from Twitter in a crackdown on extremism and hate speech, but Britain First continues to have a large following on Facebook, were its official page is “liked” by more than 2 million people.
They are due to stand trial in Northern Ireland next month over separate allegations of inciting hatred at the “Northern Ireland Against Terrorism” rally in Belfast.
Britain First was attempting to use their imprisonment to recruit supporters and further its narrative of being victimised by authorities for “free speech”.