Britain First has claimed its Facebook fan page has been “unpublished” by the company, prompting the group to label the social network “fascist” while vowing to take it to court.
In a statement published on Britain First’s website, the far-right group said the supposed move by Facebook “means that our 1.1 million supporters have been denied freedom of speech and expression,” and said it has launched “an immediate legal fund to drag Facebook into court”.
The group claimed that over 150 million people worldwide looked at the Britain First fan page and its posts in the past week.
“Facebook has launched a fascist attack on a registered, legal British political party on the verge of a major election campaign”, said Britain First’s Paul Golding.
A spokesperson from Facebook said they were investigating the matter.
Britain First controversies
Britain First controversies
1/8 20 November 2014: Britain First claims credit for success of Ukip campaign
With the Tory defector Mark Reckless forecast to win the hotly-contested by-election in Rochester and Strood, Britain First suggested they only campaigned “to bolster the Ukip campaign”. Prior to the start of the vote some bookmakers had Nigel Farage’s party as huge 1/100 favourites to take the seat, which would make Mr Reckless their second MP at the expense of the Conservative Party. And with things going so smoothly for Ukip, the far right-wing group Britain First has tried to claim some of the credit
2/8 5 November 2014: Britain First accused of hijacking the poppy as Remembrance Day approaches to promote its own agenda
The far-right group used the symbol, which is a registered trademark of the Royal British Legion, on its website masthead and in Facebook posts driving more people to its page. It is seen alongside Britain First’s logo telling people to “take our country back” and crudely superimposed into the centre of the European Union flag with a message about “national sovereignty”. Members of opposition group Exposing Britain First believe many Facebook users are sharing poppy posts without realising who it comes from or what they stand for
3/8 28 October 2014: Britain First accuses Ukip of 'playing political game' with snub over Rochester photo
Britain First accused Ukip of “playing the political game” after Nigel Farage’s party reprimanded its campaigners for posing for a picture with members of the far-right group. A spokesperson for Ukip said the picture, taken while both parties were campaigning for the Rochester by-election on Saturday, was a “mistake” would “not happen again”
4/8 25 October 2014: Britain First starts 'direct action' on Mail and Sun journalists over Lynda Bellingham post
Britain First encouraged its followers to boycott the Daily Mail and The Sun after it was accused of using actress Lynda Bellingham's death to boost support. The party has threatened to launch "direct action" on the journalists after they said that the group used the cancer victim's death as a way to gain more attention on social media. Britain First posted a photograph to their Facebook subscribers of Mrs Bellingham with co-star Christopher Timothy, above the caption: "RIP actress Lynda Bellingham. Britain First", which garnered more than 6,000 'likes' and 500 shares
5/8 28 July 2014: Britain First founder Jim Dowson quits over mosque invasions and 'racists and extremists'
The founder of Britain First resigned from the far-right group over its “provocative and counterproductive” mosque invasions. James “Jim” Dowson, a former British National Party (BNP) member and anti-abortion campaigner, announced his departure on 27 July 2014. While Britain First blamed “media pressure” and family issues for the decision and said he would be missed “enormously” in a saccharine post, Mr Dowson publicly shamed the group’s tactics as “unacceptable and unchristian”
6/8 15 July 2014: Britain First 'battalion' invades mosque demanding removal of 'sexist' entrance signs
A self-styled battalion of the far-right group Britain First “invaded” a mosque in south London. The stated aim of the altercation was to “demand the removal of sexist signs” outside the Crayford Mosque. The signs designate separate entrances for men and women, so they can enter for segregated worship as is the custom in most mosques. Men and women also sit apart in Orthodox Jewish synagogues and some Sikh gurdwaras. A film of the encounter was posted on Facebook, set to dramatic drumming music and ending with the slogan: "Britain First Defence Force. No fear. No retreat. No surrender."
7/8 27 June 2014: Britain First's Facebook page taken down for 'hate speech'
Britain First’s Facebook page was taken down for hate speech – only to be restored again an hour later. Facebook claimed the extremist group’s page was taken down by mistake but a screenshot posted by anti-fascist campaigners Hope Not Hate seemed to show the social media site had removed Britain First in response to a complaint. With almost 500,000 “likes” Britain First’s page has a following that far outstrips the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats, arguably making it the UK's biggest political site
8/8 27 April 2014: Inquiry over far-right Britain First party's use of Lee Rigby slogan on voting slip
The election watchdog faced an inquiry over its decision to allow a far-right party to use a slogan referencing the murdered soldier Lee Rigby. The Electoral Commission apologised for allowing Britain First to use the description “Remember Lee Rigby” on voting slips for next month’s European elections but Jenny Watson, the chair of the commission, said on Sunday that “an immediate and full independent investigation” would follow to “prevent this from ever happening again”
Britain First has previously boasted of the strength of its Facebook presence. When it reached the one million "like" milestone it claimed the news was proof of "genuine popular support of ideals, policies and views".
But the Facebook page has also been a source of contention - in the same week as reaching its record number of online followers, it also had to remove two photographs of British soldiers and Sea Cadets featuring people who did not want to be associated with its rhetoric.
In the case of the Sea Cadet picture, two girls aged 12 and 13 were pictured selling poppies ahead of Remembrance Sunday. The girls were seen apparently "guarded" by two men, who turned out to be from Britain First but had not stated thier identities when they asked for a picture.
The image then appeared on the group's Facebook page without permission, leaving the head of the Nottingham Sea Cadet's "furious".
Earlier this month Britain First shared a picture of murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby on its Facebook page using the caption "Lest we forget" - against the wishes of his family.