The creator of a far right extremist group that has promised to ‘arrest’ Islamist cleric Anjem Choudary by 6pm tomorrow if the Met police do not is a Belfast-based anti-abortion militant with close links to paramilitary groups.
Jim Dowson founded Britain First in 2011 as a rival to the British National Party after several senior members of the BNP fell out with its leader Nick Griffin. Dowson is currently on bail awaiting trial in Northern Ireland for his alleged role in helping to organise many of the recent Union flag protests at Belfast City Hall.
The 48-year-old former BNP fundraiser, originally from Scotland but now living in Comber, Co Down, appeared in court last month wearing a forensic-style white boilersuit with the words “political prisoner” on the back. At one of the flag protests in December, Dowson appeared alongside Billy Hutchinson, the leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, the political wing of the Ulster Volunteer Force, and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) boss Jackie McDonald.
Dowson has acted as a spokesperson for the Ulster People’s Forum, established in late 2012, and appeared last month in Belfast at the launch of the Protestant Coalition, called “a new hardline political party”. Their website is an almost carbon copy of Britain First’s with a lion’s head replacing the red hand of Ulster in their respective logos, while BF’s is registered at an office block in central Belfast.
The Hope Not Hate organisation described Dowson as “the cash cow of the far right”. Matthew Collins said Britain First was “a small viral, social media organisation” but had the ability to galvanise many other far right offshoots because of the cash reserves it can call on.
Britain First describes itself as “a patriotic political movement” and its chairman is ex-Sevenoaks BNP councillor Paul Golding. The remainder of BF’s leadership quartet consists of former BNP regional organiser, Andy McBride, who is deputy chairman, and director of communications Graeme Thomas.