The leader of the far-right Britain First group has been charged with an offence under the Terrorism Act, which the BBC reported stemmed from refusing to provide police with the pin code to his phone at the airport.
London’s Metropolitan Police said Paul Golding, 38, was charged “with wilfully failing to comply with a duty” under the so-called Schedule 7 powers in the Terrorism Act, which give police the authority to search travellers at borders and makes it a crime to fail to comply.
The BBC said he refused to provide the pin codes to access to his phone in October when he was stopped by police at Heathrow Airport on his way back from Russia.
He was charged earlier this month and will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on February 27, the police said.
While some celebrated the move as a victory against the far right, Tarek Younis, a psychology lecturer at Middlesex University, issued a caution.
“Please think twice before celebrating this news,” he tweeted. “The point was never that the far right are never charged – it was that these laws disproportionately impact Muslims, and never could it be more obvious than it is with Schedule 7 stops at airports.”
According to Stop Watch, an organisation campaigning against the disproportionate use of stop and search, Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act enables “examining officers to stop, question and/or detain people to ascertain whether they are likely to be engaged in acts of terrorism, without the need for any reasonable suspicion.”
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies