Billy Charlton trial: Protester cleared of one charge as jury sent home for the night

A campaigner accused of stirring up hatred during city protests has been cleared of one of the charges he faces.

Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 15:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 15:18 pm
Billy Charlton pictured outside Newcastle Crown Court

William Charlton, known as Billy, is accused of targeting "immigrants, Asians, black people and police" during a series of public rallies in Sunderland and causing a rise in racial crime and disorder in the city.

Prosecutors claim he hid his "racist agenda" under a "cloak of respectability" that he wanted to protect women and children from attacks.

The 54-year-old, of no fixed address, has denied six charges of stirring up racial hatred during a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

After a day of deliberation, jurors have found him not guilty of one charge.

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The panel has now been sent home for the evening and will consider the remaining five alleged offences tomorrow.

Charlton has told the court his references to "immigrants" during his city centre speeches referred to "criminal immigrants" and was not intended as a racial slur or insult to anyone.

He has denied outright that he is a racist and told jurors: "I would never racially abuse anybody."

Charlton has said communities are "living in fear" and there have been police "cover ups" about what has gone on in the city.

Charlton denies all charges.

The trial continues.