UKIP leader Gerard Batten criticised by Nigel Farage for attending Sunderland march where Democratic Football Lads Alliance were present

The leader of UKIP Gerard Batten has been criticised by Nigel Farage after speaking at a march in Sunderland.

Tuesday, 18th September 2018, 11:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th September 2018, 9:50 pm
The march took place on Saturday

Gerard Batten spoke following a march through the city centre by Wearside-based Justice for the Women and Children Group, which campaigns against sexual violence and assault, which was joined by members of the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA).

Previous Justice for Women and Children Group protests have passed off without incident.

The march took place on Saturday

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But trouble erupted on Saturday when the march reached Keel Square, where a counter demo organised by Sunderland Unites and Stand Up To Racism North East was taking place.

Police made three arrests on Saturday afternoon after disorder in the city centre.

The weekend the event saw UKIP leader Batten taking to the stage to address marchers.

Nigel Farage has criticised the UKIP leader Gerard Batten

But he has now been criticised by former leader of the party Nigel Farage for associating with the rally.

Mr Farage has been reported as saying Mr Batten has got to 'be careful what company he keeps'.

The march was sparked by sexual assaults in Sunderland, the first of which was reported in Roker Avenue on May 23, and the second on June 4.

Two more women also reported they had been attacked in Mowbray Park on Bank Holiday, May 28.

Gerard Batten. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Tasha Allan, of Justice for the Women and Children Group, one of the demonstration's organisers, told the Sunderland Echo that demonstration was not racist but was about defending people in Sunderland from crime.

"It's about speaking out about what is happening in Sunderland," she said. "There are rapists, there are children being sexually assaulted, and this most stop because we live in fear."

She added: "The football lads are not racist, they have proved that just because somebody has said somebody is racist does not mean they are.

"They have come from all over the country to help the woman and children of Sunderland.

"I just think that is fantastic."

Lee Graham Parkinson, 36, of no fixed abode, appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer.

He was jailed for 12 weeks, with a further 12 weeks to run consecutively imposed for breach of a suspended sentence.

Fifty-eight-year-old Thomas Allen, of Hartside Road, Sunderland, who was also charged with assaulting a police officer, will appear before South Tyneside Magistrates on Monday, October 15.

A third man, aged 24, has been served with a fixed penalty notice for disorderly behaviour.

Reverend Chris Howson from Sunderland Minster, who was part of the counter demonstration, said: "I'm very disappointed that a number of far-right people marched through our city and tried to cause trouble.

"There's no room for these people in our city. I'm glad it's ended safely."