The leaders of radical right-wing party Britain First have been arrested following a "campaign" related to an ongoing rape trial at a court in Kent.
Anti-Islam activists Paul Golding, 35, and Jayda Fransen, 31, were detained on Wednesday evening (10 May) on suspicion of inciting religious hatred – a public order offence with a maximum prison sentence of seven years.
Kent Police said the arrests related to "leaflets and videos posted online" that were linked to an ongoing trial at Canterbury Crown Court. The court case involves the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl.
The Britain First leaders – known for their controversial "mosque invasions" and "Christian patrols" – had attended a takeaway shop in Ramsgate owned by one of the four accused defendants. They posted videos on social media of them "confronting" the takeaway's workers last week.
It comes as police have in recent weeks seen other anti-Islam activists arrive outside courts in other parts of the country to protest against "Muslim" defendants accused of rape and/or being involved in child sex gangs.
Golding and Fransen, who spent the night in the police cells, said their own arrests came after police pulled over their vehicle during a "military-style ambush" in the Tonbridge area. Officers also raided their homes, they said.
"We were driving to a meeting through Kent and the traffic in front of us stopped," Fransen told IBTimes UK. "A marked police van had stopped diagonally in front of the cars.
"Then other police cars flew up behind and alongside us and officers leaped out .... they pulled us both out [of the car]."
She added: "It was like watching a Swat team. They were obviously waiting for us on this route."
Golding and Fransen were released on Thursday morning on bail conditions which banned them from entering five specific locations around the country, thought to be locations of other ongoing trials.
The day before the Britain First arrests, fellow anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson was also arrested after making videos outside Canterbury Crown Court relating to the same rape trial.
The former leader of the English Defence League (EDL) was detained and later bailed for allegedly filming within the precincts of the court, which is strictly prohibited.
Anti-Islam activists target defendants
Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, has attended a number of court cases in recent weeks, filming himself confront defendants accused of child sex attacks as they walk to and from proceedings.
This includes an ongoing trial in Huddersfield, where 29 people faced a string of child sex charges relating to 18 girls over a period of seven years.
The videos, posted on social media to his followers, show some of the defendants covering their faces with police present to prevent an altercation.
At Canterbury Crown Court, police were so concerned about the likelihood of a confrontation between defendants and those outside the court that they escorted two of the accused on bail out the back entrance.
Regarding the arrests of Golding and Fransen, a spokesman for Kent Police said: "A 35-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman, both from London, have been arrested on suspicion of inciting religious hatred.
"The arrests are in connection with leaflets and videos posted online that relate to an ongoing trial at Canterbury Crown Court.
"Both have been released on bail pending further enquiries until Saturday 3 June 2017. The arrests were carried out in the Tonbridge area at around 7.15pm on Wednesday 10 May 2017."