Far-right figure refused police access to his phone at Heathrow on return from Moscow
The leader of the far-right political group Britain First 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.
Paul Golding, 38, was stopped at Heathrow by Metropolitan police officers on 23 October last year on his way back from Moscow. He refused to give the pin codes 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 following a trial at Westminster magistrates court in London on Wednesday.
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Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot ruled there was “no doubt” that Golding had failed to comply with requests for information, despite his obligations being explained to him and being warned “over and over” that he risked arrest.
She handed Golding a conditional discharge for nine months and ordered him to pay a £21 surcharge and £750 in costs.
Arbuthnot said Golding had been lawfully questioned and that under Schedule 7 there had been no requirement for “reasonable suspicion” for the stop.
Giving evidence earlier, PC Rory O’Connor, a borders officer with the Met who questioned Golding, told the court that 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 that it also permitted police to interrogate, search and detain anyone for up to six hours at UK ports.
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.
Golding, of Hodder Bank, Stockport, spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth, address and nationality.
English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, watched the proceedings in the court’s physically distanced public gallery.
Golding described Britain First as a “patriotic, right-wing, conservative” group who considered themselves “loyalist”.
Representing Golding, Abigail Bright said Britain First had never been a banned organisation. She said Golding had been “calm, compliant and respectful” during questioning under what she claimed was a “predetermined operation”.
Britain First was deregistered as a political party in November 2017.