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Richard Price, co-ordinator of the West Midlands division of the EDL Richard Price, co-Co-ordinator of the West Midlands division of the EDL

A leader of the English Defence League who was described as a “political prisoner” after being jailed for violence at a march had already been placed on the sex offenders register for downloading indecent images of children, The Times can reveal.

The far-right group launched a campaign to free Richard Price, co-ordinator of the West Midlands division of the EDL, after he was jailed last month for violent behaviour. But Price, 41, had been convicted in June 2010 of making four indecent images of children, and possessing cocaine and crack cocaine.

That conviction followed an earlier arrest in 2009 for public order offences believed to have been connected with EDL marches. Police were understood to have seized and analysed his computer, leading to the discovery of sexual images of children that he had downloaded. His home was also searched and the drugs were found.

Price admitted four counts of making indecent images of children and two charges of possessing cocaine when he appeared at Birmingham Crown Court. He was banned from owning a computer for a year, given a three-year community supervision order and ordered to sign on to the sex offenders register for five years.

Price, from Quinton, Birmingham, and Collum Keyes, 23, also from Birmingham, were among 12 people arrested when they surged through police lines during a protest in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, in May 2010.

When that case came to court in December, Price admitted using threatening behaviour. He was jailed for three months and given a ten-year Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order banning him from attending marches outside Birmingham. Keyes, who admitted disorderly conduct, was fined £150.

When Price was jailed, EDL members launched a campaign urging supporters to write to the Prime Minister and MPs to try to “win justice for Richard Price, EDL”.

The Aston Villa supporter, who has also been linked to football hooliganism, was even likened by his supporters to a modern-day John Bunyan, the Puritan Christian preacher and author of Pilgrim’s Progress who was jailed for continuing his sermons without the permission of the established Church in the 1600s.

But today’s revelation that one of the EDL’s leading members has been convicted of sex offences will come as a huge embarrassment to a group that has struggled to shrug off its reputation as a new version of the National Front.

In recent months, particularly following the political demise of the British National Party, the EDL has begun to attract more support. Its leader, who had previously used the alias Tommy Robinson, was traced by The Times and gave his first interview using his real name.

Stephen Lennon has vehemently denied that the group he started in Luton, Bedfordshire, is racist, saying that it has even set up a gay and lesbian division and given a prominent role to a Sikh supporter opposed to Islamic extremists.

Supporters of the EDL had claimed that Price became a political prisoner after he, along with Keyes, was banned from organising, controlling or travelling to any open-air protest outside Birmingham for ten years.

It was the first time a Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order, sought by Thames Valley Police in conjunction with the National Domestic Extremism Unit, had been issued to a demonstrator connected to the EDL.

Last month, a database of EDL supporters was published on the internet. Hackers had attacked the group’s database of those who had made donations to the EDL and people who had bought clothing from its merchandise wing.

The Times

Daily Star

 

edl_mergeTwo men who took part in a violent demonstration in Aylesbury town centre in May are the first members of the English Defence League (EDL) to be given a Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order (CRASBO).

Richard Price, aged 41, of Stonehouse Lane, Birmingham (photo top), and Collum Keyes, aged 23, from Somerton Drive, Birmingham (photo bottom), were each granted a 10-year CRASBO at Aylesbury Crown Court today (17/12), after admitting public order offences stemming from an EDL demonstration on 1 May 2010.

The CRASBO was applied for jointly by Thames Valley Police and the National Domestic Extremism Unit, a national police unit.

Price admitted a charge of causing threatening behaviour while Keyes admitted a charge of disorderly conduct. At today’s court hearing they were issued with CRASBOs, which prevents them from attending any public meeting organised by the EDL. In addition Price was given a 12-week prison sentence while Keyes was ordered to pay a £150 fine and £85 court costs.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge The Lord Parmoor said: “On the evidence before me the only reason for this march and demonstration was to provoke some reaction in the local community, in particular the local Muslim community.

“Both Mr Keyes and Mr Price paid good money to travel to Aylesbury to partake in this event. I am persuaded that their only reason for doing so was to provoke, encourage and enjoy disorder.”

PC Mike Ellis, Thames Valley Police’s Anti-Social Behaviour Coordinator, who led the CRASBO case, said: “This is a clear signal to those who use violence and disorder to further their extreme and racist views to intimidate and create fear within minority communities.

“Their behaviour will not be tolerated within the Thames Valley Police area, and we will use whatever measures are available to us to tackle such people.”

Det Con Andy Haworth, of the National Domestic Extremism Unit, said: “We’re really pleased with today’s result which prevents two violent criminals from using Defence League demonstrations as a forum to commit violence and cause distress to others.

“While the Defence Leagues are legitimate protest organisations, violence has been a persistent feature of their demonstrations, and we hope the success of today’s application will prevent that violence.

“We will work to support all police forces with CRASBO applications against any who persistently commits criminal acts at Defence League demonstrations, regardless of whether they profess to support the Defence League or oppose it, in order to ensure future demonstrations are peaceful and lawful.”

The CRASBOs oblige Price and Keyes:
Not knowingly to organise, travel to, participate in, or control any march, demonstration, protest or similar event in the open air which takes place more than 10 miles from the centre of Birmingham.

Not knowingly to send or attempt to send any article, letter, fax or email that refers to, or seeks to promote or publicise, any march, demonstration, protest or similar event in the open air which takes place more than 10 miles from the centre of Birmingham.

Thames Valley Police