Billy Charlton trial: Sunderland protester said his speeches were 'just words'

A protester on trial for stirring up racial hatred during planned marches told police his speeches were "just words" and his only intention was to protect women and children from sexual attacks.

Thursday, 19th September 2019, 3:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th September 2019, 4:15 pm
Billy Charlton

William Charlton, known as Billy, took part in and spoke at a series of organised demonstrations in Sunderland after a woman claimed she had been attacked by foreign men at a flat in the city.

Prosecutors claim the 55-year-old's intention was "to stir people up against Muslims, Asians, black people and the police."

Charlton, of no fixed address, is on trial at Newcastle Crown Court where he denies five charges of stirring up racial hatred between November 2016 and July 2017.

Jurors have heard an audio recording of extracts of Charlton being interviewed by police about the allegations.

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He tells the officers the questioning is "crazy" and "ridiculous" and denies his statements were racist.

Charlton told the officers: "I was standing up for everyone in this town, not just for the white women, all women. No woman should be raped and abused."

He added: "They are just words. Nobody, nobody there was never, ever any problems, any fights, no problems whatsoever."

Charlton also told the officers: "You say I stirred up racial hatred when there was never actually one time at one of them demonstrations any offences committed, racially. Was there?"

During questioning Charlton insisted his intention was to "protect against people committing crimes against women and children" and added: "That was it, there was no other reason."

Charlton denied there was any generalisation during his speeches and added: "I was specifically talking about people who were committing offences, I was never, ever generalising against the immigrant population of this town. Never, ever, ever, ever did that.

"This is my town, the town I have lived in all my life.

"I have never committed any racial offence because I don't believe in it."

An officer who was in the interview told jurors she was "flabbergasted" by Charlton's behaviour during questioning.

The constable said Charlton was "red faced, aggressive" during the interview and left her "the most intimidated I have been by someone".

Glenn Gatland, defending, said Charlton had been "extremely frustrated" during the questioning as he felt he was not being listened to and told the officer: "You were putting to him he was a racist, effectively, he was saying 'I'm not a racist'.

Charlton denies all charges.

The trial continues.