UK

Britain First Protest Against Rotherham Abuse By Trying To Flog Their Merchandise

04/10/2014 16:12 BST | Updated 04/10/2014 17:59 BST
Jenny Eells BBC Sheffield

The far right descended on Rotherham Saturday to rally against the appalling findings of an inquiry into child sex abuse - and to make a few extra pounds by flogging their merchandise.

Following the release of the damning report, which revealed more than 1,400 children in Rotherham were abused over a period of 16 years by "mainly Asian men," branches of the far-right, pseudo-militia group Britain First have been staging rallies against what they say is a lack of arrests and disciplinary action following the scandal.

The group, known for its mosque invasions and money-making merchandise, is the most active far-right group to emerge from the collapse of the BNP and EDL over the past year.

Four people have already been arrested at previous protests involving the "defence organisation", but that hasn't stopped them from returning and letting their followers know they can buy their hoodies and wooly hats embossed with the party logo.

The group is currently in trouble with the Government over its merch after a Cabinet Office spokesman told The Huffington Post they had not been authorised to use the symbol of the Royal Crown.

britain first

Some of the available Britain First merchandise

britain first

One protester was arrested Saturday, according to reporters in Rotherham, with roughly 100 people attending the scene for what was a relatively quick demonstration.

According to those at the scene, Britain First were joined by fellow right-wingers the National Front, who were pictured ironically standing on what was said to be a war memorial commemorating those who died fighting against fascism.

Local business took a stand against the right-wing groups by spreading messages of peace and calling on the police to stop the protests, saying they are putting off business.

But South Yorkshire Police have said they have "no legal power" to ban the marches.

The recent findings of the Rotherham inquiry, along with the crisis in Iraq and Syria are fuelling increased hate crime towards Muslims, a government adviser on right-wing extremism recently said.

"This is one of the most worrying periods in right-wing extremism, given the growth in right-wing groups and the recent news events which are making them more angry," the anonymous expert claimed.

The adviser, who works with the the Home Office's Prevent strategy, warned that the government is wrongly putting an emphasis on the "global jihadist agenda," while possibly ignoring the growth of the far-right at home.

Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson previously told The Huffington Post UK he "wasn't surprised at all" by the details of the Rotherham report - or the far-right reaction to it - saying "we were trying to tell you all along."

He sensationally quit the EDL last year saying he could no longer control the extremist elements within the organisation. The 31-year-old said the Rotherham scandal was not just corporate dysfunction at a wider level but "political correctness gone mad".

Robinson, who was recently released from prison for mortgage fraud, said that "when I was sat in jail, everything we were ridiculed over, everything we were told was promoting hate and creating division, all of it is now public knowledge."

But the government adviser warned about the prospect of a violent attack being carried out by the far-right in Britain after talking to extremists.

"I have been working with people from the far-right for about 27 years now, I can see increases in some of these groups and membership in some of these groups based on things that are happening nationally here and internationally," he warned.

"A lot of the emphasis is put on the global jihadist agenda, which is fine, and it needs to be, but I really feel that this agenda, the repercussions of some of that in terms of the far-right can't be ignored.

"I wouldn't want to get to the point where something happens and we look back and think actually we should have addressed that as well."