Northern Ireland

Fourth person charged over 'hate speech'

Laganside court complex in Belfast
Image caption A defence lawyer told Belfast Magistrates' Court that Mr Banks intends to plead not guilty

A 60-year-old Yorkshire man has appeared in court accused of inciting hatred at a rally in Belfast which was attended by members of Britain First.

John Richard Banks, from Acacia Road in Doncaster, is the fourth person to be prosecuted over the "Northern Ireland Against Terrorism" rally last August.

He is charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words.

A defence lawyer told Belfast Magistrates' Court that Mr Banks intends to plead not guilty.

The rally took place outside Belfast City Hall on 6 August 2017.

The Doncaster resident was arrested last month and transferred to Northern Ireland where he was charged by PSNI detectives.

In his first court appearance in the case, Mr Banks spoke only to confirm that he understood the allegations against him.

The judge adjourned the case until next week but she excused the accused from attending the next preliminary hearing.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Banks confirmed he is a member of the far right group, Britain First.

The leader of Britain First, Paul Golding, the group's deputy leader, Jayda Fransen and far right activist, Paul Rimmer, of Modred Street in Liverpool, are also contesting charges connected to speeches made at the same Belfast rally.

They deny the allegations against them and are expected to stand trial in April.