A man has been fined for making offensive comments about Allah during the English Defence League protest in Leicester. Lee Whitby was found guilty of using racially aggravated abusive words during the protest in the city centre on Saturday, October 9.
During a trial at Leicester Magistrates' Court yesterday, the 27-year-old pleaded not guilty to chanting "threatening, abusive or insulting" words that were likely to cause "harassment, alarm or distress."
Although he admitted making comments, Whitby said he did not believe they would have been heard by anyone other than police officers or fellow EDL supporters. However, magistrate Rick Moore ruled that officers were likely to have been alarmed by the defendant's words.
Whitby, of Holley Place, Stoke-on-Trent, said he was an EDL supporter and had travelled by train to Leicester on the day of the protest with about 30 people from Stoke and Crewe. He also admitted being part of previous EDL protests in Newcastle, Dudley, Stoke, Bolton and Bradford.
The defendant told the court he was leaving the protest site in Humberstone Gate East and was being ushered towards the train station when he uttered the offensive chant.
Whitby, who chose to represent himself, said: "I went to an EDL demo and was in an area which was isolated away from everyone else. The only people that would have heard were the EDL. I was not aiming it at anyone. No-one around would find it offensive. Otherwise, I wouldn't have said it. I was just voicing my opinion at an EDL meeting with just EDL people around."
Alexandra Blossom, prosecuting, said the comments made were bound to cause harassment, alarm or distress because of Leicester's multicultural society and the fact the words were said in the city centre.
She said: "A number of people present that day were likely to be offended. It was a high-profile event and members of the public would have been in the city on a Saturday. The remarks are even offensive to police. A clear message needs to be sent out about using such behaviour in a multicultural city."
The court heard Whitby had two previous convictions for common assault.
Mr Moore said: "It is a fact you were with others chanting and police were within hearing distance but there is no evidence of non-police officers within hearing distance. It is likely that a police officer or officers hearing the words would be likely to be alarmed and for that reason we find you guilty of this offence."
Whitby was fined £200 and ordered to pay a further £200 in costs, as well as a £15 victim surcharge.
Thanks to NewsHound for the heads-up.