Billy Charlton trial: Sunderland protester travelled country giving speeches at events attended by far-right groups, jury told

A protester accused of stirring up racial hatred at city centre demonstrations has travelled around the country giving speeches at events attended by far-right groups, jurors have heard.

Monday, 10th December 2018, 15:21 pm
Updated Monday, 10th December 2018, 15:25 pm
Billy Charlton, pictured in Sunderland

Prosecutors claim William Charlton's public protest talks in Sunderland city centre spread hatred against "immigrants, Asians, black people and the police" and caused a rise in the city's racial crime and disorder.

It is claimed Charlton, who was known as "Billy", hid his racist agenda under the "cloak of respectability" that he wanted to protect women and children from attacks by speaking at the protests.

The 53-year-old, of no fixed address, denies six offences of stirring up racial hatred and is being tried by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.

Jurors have now heard evidence from a former Metropolitan police spotter, who gathered intelligence and policed rallies in conjunction with local forces.

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The ex-officer said he saw Charlton at protests attended by the EDL, National Front and the now proscribed National Action, among many other, similar groups.

The court heard Charlton attended a march organised by splinter groups of the English Defence League, in Berwick-upon-Tweed on July 5 2014.

The protest was entitled "ban the burka" and the officer said he believed Charlton gave a speech at the event.

The court heard Charlton attended a "white man march" on March 21 2015 in Newcastle, which was again attended by members of right-wing and far-right groups and where flags were burned.

The former officer told the court: "I saw William Charlton give a speech.

"It had an anti-Islamic and anti-police tone but I can't remember exactly what was said."

The court heard Charlton attended a protest in Rotherham in May 2015, again organised by splinter groups of the EDL who wanted "no more mosques".

The former officer said he saw Charlton at the event and added: "He again gave a speech at that event.

"I didn't hear it in it's entirety but, from what I noted at the time, I believe it was anti-Islam and anti-police in tone.

The court heard Charlton attended a protest at Bishop Auckland on June 6 2015 and spoke at the event.

The ex-officer told jurors: "I was unable to listen to the entirety of Mr Charlton's speech but noted, again, anti-Islamic and anti-police in tone. I can't remember exactly what was said."

The court heard Charlton was at an event, which had been organised by the North West Infidels, in Preston on October 10 2015.

The former officer had been unable to hear the speeches that day due to a counter-demonstration taking place.

The court heard Charlton was also seen at an event in Scarborough, to protest against homelessness amongst army veterans, where an EDL group promoted the slogan "no more refugees".

The ex-officer said: "Mr Charlton made a speech, anti-Islamic in tone, with references to homelessness."

Charlton denies all charges.

The trial continues.