The group barricaded Tory MEP Sajjad Karim’s house, shouting abuse and holding EDL placards with Mr Karim, his wife and their two children still inside.
Before police made it to the scene they continued on a ‘flash demonstrations’ rampage around Lancashire
Violence later broke out in Brierfield where a 17-year-old Asian man was floored in the street and one man was run over.
Bernard Holmes, an English Defence League commander has been jailed for leading a mob of EDL members to the house of a Muslim MEP
A ‘commander’ in the English Defence League who led a mob of 40 people to barricade the home of Conservative MEP Sajjad Karim has been jailed for 18 months.
Bernard Holmes, 28, was arrested after members of far right group converged on the property of Mr Karim whilst his wife and two young children were at home.
Claiming they wanted to deliver a letter, invaded the politician’s driveway and were said to have behaving in an ‘intimidating, threatening manner’ and shouting abuse whilst holding up placards from the EDL.
Police were called to the house in Burnley but were too late as the mob had already moved on to carry out a string of ‘flash demonstrations’ in Blackburn and nearby towns led by Holmes.
This is not the first time Mr Karim has experienced harassment from far-right groups like the EDL: In 2010, Mr Karim said he was forced to hire a private security firm for round the clock protection due to threats.
Mr Karim, MEP for North West, said he believed he was targeted for religious reasons because the EDL have an ‘anti-Islamic agenda’.
Mr Holmes, who goes under the nickname ‘Mr B’ is the EDL Blackburn division’s ‘commander’ and led the operation on July 2 last year.
Holmes, from Blackburn pleaded guilty to racially aggravated public order offences and was also given a five year CRASBO on top of his 18 month prison sentence at Preston Crown Court today.
The court heard how the group gathered outside 41-year old Mr Karim’s house at lunchtime in July last year to stage an anti-Islamic protest allegedly regarding EU proposals on the labelling of Halal meat.
The demonstrators carrying placards reportedly went into Mr Karim’s garden and began shouting abuse at him, before peering through his windows and filming his house
Mr Karim was in the house with his wife, Zahida, and two children, 10-year-old Bilal, and Rabia, eight, at the time of the protest.
At the time Mr Karim said: ‘It was very intimidating experience for us. They were all over my driveway and looking into my house.
‘I had my family in the house and it is just disgusting that they were able to do this. My daughter has been left petrified’
Mr Karim, who defected from the Liberal Democrats in 2007, said the group had gone to his house in Burnley, claiming that one member had wanted to deliver a letter to him.
He said people normally used a stamp or arranged to deliver the letter to his parliamentary address.
‘That really was a pretence,’ he said.
‘Their intention was to intimidate, to cause fright to my family and that is why they went about things in the way they did.’
Holmes had a history of violence and in 2010 was jailed for two years and four months after he beat up a man outside a nightclub and left him brain damaged.
After Mr Holmes and the group left Mr Karim’s fighting broke out in nearby Brierfield town centre.
Members of EDL attacked a 17-year-old called Azhar Iqbal and nearby a man was run down by an EDL supporter’s car.
Three people were jailed and seven others were given non custodial sentences for the events in Brierfield town centre. Two other people failed to appear at court and warrants have been issued for their arrest.
It has been confirmed that Bernard Holmes was involved in the general violence but not in these specific events
Lawyers representing them insisted there was no pre-meditated plan to cause trouble in Brierfield.
Supt Steve Pemberton of Lancashire said he was pleased with the convictions and the sentences imposed.
‘This was a spontaneous incident on a busy Saturday afternoon which could have been much more serious than it fortunately was had it not been for the speedy police response and that of local community leaders who were able to quell any subsequent rise in tensions.