Stoke-on-Trent BNP leader Michael Coleman 'will risk jail for free speech' after receiving suspended sentence
STOKE-ON-TRENT BNP leader Michael Coleman says he will risk jail by continuing to post political articles on his blog.
The former city councillor, right, received a suspended eight-month sentence at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday, after being convicted of racially-aggravated harassment.
Coleman wrote two blogs responding to last summer's riots, claiming that the city was being 'flooded with Muslims and blacks'.
But the 46-year-old vowed to continue publishing his extremist views – despite the fact that he will be jailed if he re-offends in the next 12 months.
Coleman, of Caverswall Road, Weston Coyney, was entirely unrepentant upon leaving court, and claimed he had simply been exercising his freedom of speech.
He said: "I would like to make it clear that I deny breaking any of the traditional laws of this country. I didn't harass anybody. It was not my intention to harass anybody. Posting an article on a personal blog could never be construed as harassment, not in a free country. This is political correctness in law form.
"I am a freeborn Englishman. My forefathers fought in two world wars to protect the freedom we have today. I will be damned if these hard-won freedoms will be taken away in the 21st century.
"I believe I will go to prison, not today, but in the future, if this regime continues to restrict the freedoms of this country."
Coleman served as a member of Stoke-on-Trent City Council for four years up until 2011, when all five BNP candidates were rejected by voters.
But he continued to play an active role in politics as BNP local leader.
In August and September last year, he posted two articles on his Stoke Patriot website, commenting on the riots which had swept London and other cities.
Coleman said the riots exemplified 'the difference in personality, perceptions and values of people of the darker races and ourselves'.
He also accused the city council of overseeing a 'complete population replacement programme – darkies in, whites out'.
Labour city councillor Joy Garner called in the police after being asked to read the blogs by a member of the public.
Coleman denied intending to cause harassment, alarm or distress, but was convicted by a jury following a trial earlier this month.
Patrick Thompson, mitigating, told the court that regardless of his politics, Coleman was a hardworking family man who had served his community.
He said: "In my submission, this certainly isn't the worst example of an offence of this nature. He wasn't asking people to take up arms or anything like that."
Mr Thompson also warned that a harsh punishment would turn Coleman into a martyr.
Judge Robert Trevor-Jones, who ordered Coleman to complete 240 hours of unpaid work, told the defendant that his words had the potential to 'fan the flames' in the wake of the riots.
Coleman's suspended sentence means he will be barred from standing in a local council election for the next five years.
Mrs Garner, left, said she was happy with Coleman's sentence: "I would like to see him carry out his community service in different areas of the city, so he can see for himself that the diverse culture of our city is no threat to rest of the country."
Read Sentinel editor Mike Sassi's comments on the case at www.thisis staffordshire.co.uk/liberty