When President Donald Trump shared a series of anti-Muslim tweets from Jayda Fransen, a bigoted, outspoken member of the far-right Britain First party last November, her message and group appeared ascendant.
In the few months since, however, the only thing that seems to have risen is the number of court rulings against Fransen and her Britain First colleague.
The latest blow to Fransen’s anti-Muslim campaign came on Tuesday, when a British court found Fransen and Paul Golding, the head of Britain First, guilty of religiously aggravated harassment. As the court found, Fransen and Golding had both filmed and harassed civilians whom the Britain First members believed were tied to an ongoing rape trial in Kent.
Despite the fact that the passers-by targeted by Fransen — who herself had previously been convicted for directing abuse at a separate Muslim woman — had nothing to do with the trial, she and Golding nonetheless posted the footage on Britain First’s website. Fransen and Golding, as the court found, also placed anti-Muslim leaflets in the mailboxes of nearby houses.
“The prosecution case here demonstrated these defendants were not merely exercising their right to free speech but were instead aiming religiously-aggravated abuse at innocent members of the public,” Chief Crown Prosecutor Jaswant Narwal said.
The pair haven’t yet been sentenced, but, as the presiding judge noted, both Fransen and Golding clearly “demonstrated hostility” toward Muslims. “There is no place for hate crime in our society today. It is very personal and vindictive,” Narwal added.
The ruling is the latest setback for Fransen since Trump decided to promote her bigotry. Fransen’s Britain First gained prominence in 2017 through its anti-Islam messaging. But following the president’s retweets, Fransen’s Twitter account became one of the first far-right feeds suspended by the company in December’s so-called “purge.” Twitter also suspended Golding’s account.
A few weeks later, British authorities charged both Fransen and Golding with “using threatening, abusive, insulting words or behavior,” stemming from the pair’s actions at a Belfast rally last summer.
Trump, of course, has retweeted numerous racist, bigoted, far-right messages to his followers, both before and during his presidency — any number of which came from accounts that appear aimed at duping the president.
But Fransen’s swift downfall illustrates the perils of the sudden notoriety that a retweet from the president can bring. Trump may not be the primary cause of Fransen’s sudden legal issues — those are, of course, of her own doing — but the fame she gained through the president’s patronage, and through her own bigotry, may well be a lesson for the other far-right figures thirsting for presidential attention. Be careful what you wish for, especially when it comes to pining for the president’s affections.
UPDATE: Fransen received a 36-week jail sentence for her conviction, while Golding received an 18-week jail sentence, the BBC reported Wednesday.