Britain First activist faces retrial for alleged assault at hotel housing asylum seekers

Conviction found to be unsafe after court hears James White was isolating during trial after a relative caught Covid

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 10 November 2021 20:58
<p>James White, centre in blue hooded top, seen with other Britain First activists at a protest at the Coventry Hill Hotel in August 2020</p>

James White, centre in blue hooded top, seen with other Britain First activists at a protest at the Coventry Hill Hotel in August 2020

Magistrates have set aside the conviction of a Britain First activist accused of assaulting a security guard at a hotel housing asylum seekers.

James White, 31, will face a retrial for assault at Coventry Magistrates’ Court on 7 March.

He was found guilty of the offence in his absence on Monday, but the conviction was ruled unsafe two days later after his lawyer successfully argued proceedings had gone ahead unfairly.

Magistrates previously issued a warrant for Mr White’s arrest, after he did not attend his trial.

On Wednesday, the court was told that the defendant had informed the court by email that he could not be present because he was isolating after a family member tested positive for Covid-19.

Mr White’s lawyer said he complied with instructions in emails sent to him by the court and that it went “against the principles of natural justice that the email said one thing and that the court went on to do a different thing”.

Mr White, who denies common assault, was not able to give evidence to the court before being convicted as a result.

He is accused of assaulting a security guard at the Coventry Hill Hotel by forcing open a door as members of Britain First tried to access an area where refugees were staying.

The incident, on 29 August 2020, came during one of numerous protests by Britain First at hotels being used by the government to house asylum seekers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr White was granted conditional bail instructing him not to contact the complainant in the case, visit the Coventry Hill Hotel or others in Coventry.

Additional reporting by PA

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