Protester tried to hit policeman at EDL rally

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A father-of-two from Leeds who tried to hit a police officer with a placard during an English Defence League rally has been jailed for two years.

James Harrington, a former bricklayer and grave-digger from Swarcliffe Road, went to the rally in Birmingham in July 2013 wearing a One True Saxon T-shirt.

The 30-year-old father-of-two was seen on CCTV standing on top of a fast food kiosk holding a half-full bottle of brandy.

He later tried to hit a police officer using a placard on a length of wood, but was knocked off balance by a surge in the crowd.

Racist text message were found on Harrington’s phone after his arrest, showing that he was “looking for trouble” even before he arrived in Birmingham.

He was sentenced yesterday at Birmingham Crown Court alongside fellow EDL supporters Jake Hill, Adam Beebee and Lee Joshua. The violent scenes left 30 police officers injured, and Joshua later posted an image of himself burning a copy of the Koran.

The court heard that a Muslim prayer cap and a Pakistani flag were set on fire in the street, while police were pelted with paving slabs and bottles during the disorder.

Around 200 EDL supporters were involved in the violence in the Broad Street and Centenary Square areas of Birmingham, which lasted for around two hours.

Passing sentence on the men, who all admitted violent disorder, Judge Richard Bond said much of the conduct seen at the EDL rally had been “plainly racist and/or anti-Muslim”.

A further 48 men are due to be sentenced during December at the same court for offences linked to the disorder.