"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

EDL Members up in Court for Racism


A number of English Defence League members have been before the courts today, charged with a series of racially aggrevated offences.

Andrew Ossitt, 40, from Newquay, came to Halifax on April 2, along with around 60 other English Defence League protesters.

He was part of a group who came into town after a demonstration in Blackburn.

They congregated outside the Courtyard pub, Wards End, Halifax.

Another man, Dennis Farrell, 26, of High Lees Road, Halifax, also appeared at Calderdale Magistrates’ Court. He will face trial on November 3 after denying two charges of using threatening words and racially or religiously aggreviated harassment.

Scores of police went to the pub at 6pm and marched the group back to the train station.

Vanessa Schofield, prosecuting, said: “Officers’ attention was drawn to Andrew Ossitt. He was walking along, slightly behind the group. He raised both arms in the air and shouted, ‘These are our streets, Muslims off the streets,’.

Ossitt admitted using threatening words to cause harassment alarm or distress and a second charge of religiously aggravated harassment and was fined £100.

Mohammed Farooq, representing Ossitt, told the court although he joined in with chanting, he was not an instigator.

He said: “At no point was it his intention to be part of any demonstration outside the pub. A few members began chanting, a few more joined in. Due to him being in drink at the time he began to chant ‘You burn the poppies, and we will burn the mosques,’.

“Andrew Ossitt says at the time of making these remarks he did not feel he was going to cause anyone any alarm, harassment or distress. With hindsight he said had there been members of the Muslim community there, they would have done.”

His solicitor said Ossitt felt “aggrieved” at being prosecuted. “He has been singled out from that demonstration and used as a scapegoat here in court. He has said there should be 60 or so EDL stood next to him,” said Mr Farooq

He said Ossitt has not attended any English Defence League meetings since April.

As well as the £100 fine, chairwoman Anthea Atkinson told Ossitt to pay £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

“Our aim is to punish you, which we believe this will do.

“If this offence had not been religiously aggreviated, you would have paid £30 but it has been increased to reflect the religious aggreviation,” she said.

A member of the English Defence League has admitted taking part in a spray paint attack on a mosque.

Also before the courts, Charlotte Davies, 19, will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit racially aggravated criminal damage.

She travelled from her home in Irving Path, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, to Durham Crown Court where she indicated she admitted her part in the graffiti attack in November.

The Nasir Mosque in Hartlepool, a shop and a guest house were sprayed.

The plea was not formally entered although the case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be carried out and she will be sentenced in October.

Anthony Smith, 24, of Neptune Way, Easington Colliery, County Durham, and Steven Vasey, 32, of Prior’s Grange, Pittington, County Durham, are accused of the same offence and they will enter pleas next Friday.

In Redbridge Surrey, Four English Defence League thugs who bombarded a mosque and an imam with bricks in a racist attack are facing jail.

The group of youths tried to storm Redbridge Islamic Centre, Eastern Avenue, Redbridge, after taunting worshippers arriving for evening prayers with racist chants.

The front window was smashed and the imam Shafeel Begg was hit by a brick as he tried to pursue them on March 24.

Rocky Beale, 21, of Purleigh Avenue, Woodford Green, Eliot Jones, 19, of no fixed address, Matthew Stephenson, 18, of Burrow Road, Hainault and a 16-year-old who cannot be named because of his age, were convicted of violent disorder at Snaresbrook Crown Court after just 90 minutes deliberation by the jury on Wednesday.

They will be sentenced on September 28.

Two others, Daniel Leal, 19, of Queenborough Gardens, Gants Hill and Ryan Jones, 23, of no fixed address were cleared of violent disorder after a two-week trial.

Pam Oon, prosecuting, said the 16-year-old “threw a brick, which smashed the front window of the mosque”.

He and another of the attackers then ran inside, and Mr Begg and caretaker Mohammed Wahud gave chase.

“In the process the caretaker was injured by some broken glass,” said Ms Oon.

“When the imam and the caretaker came out of the mosque, the youths were still throwing bricks and shouting abuse, before they ran down Eastern Avenue towards Redbridge Tube station.”

The 16-year-old told police he had been attacked by a group of men from the mosque with iron bars.

Five nearby parked cars and a number of neighbouring homes were also damaged before the gang arrived at the mosque.

http://www.edlnews.co.uk/edl-news/edl-members-up-in-court-for-racism

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