The leader of a racist U.K. group was caught admitting to assaulting two women, including a deputy leader of his group, the BBC reports. He’s the latest far-right leader accused of domestic violence in recent years.
Paul Golding is the leader of Britain First, a militant racist group that has conducted raids on U.K. mosques and led “Christian patrols” in London’s streets. The group justifies its attacks on Muslims and immigrants by accusing them of attacking white British women. But in a recording released by the BBC, Golding appears to admit to hitting two women himself, including former Britain First deputy Jayda Fransen. The recording highlights a strong trend of misogyny on the far right, which often uses anti-feminism to recruit new members.
Fransen, who confirmed the allegations to the BBC, used to be in a relationship with Golding. She left Britain First earlier this year. In the recording, she confronts Golding about an apparent physical dispute. He does not deny the alleged attack, but blames her for driving him “crazy,” and says the only women he’s hit are her and another woman, whose name has been redacted.
“So you can hit me and then tell me I have got to leave my home?” Fransen is heard asking Golding on the recording
“No, what happened this morning, and you weren’t innocent—” Golding says.
“I didn’t come near you,” Fransen says. “You tried to fucking, you tried to come at me, tried to hit me, you said you were going to kill me, and threw a bottle of drink at my face.”
“Driving someone mentally crazy is just as bad as physical,” Golding says.
“Really, yeah, no, everyone drives you crazy so you beat them. That’s your excuse.”
“The only two girls I lay a finger on in my life is [redacted] and you.”
Britain First has been mired in allegations of sexual misconduct from the beginning. The group was founded by Jim Dowson, a former minister previously involved in a violent anti-Catholic group, and in extreme anti-abortion activism (including doxing workers at women’s health clinics). He joined the far-right British National Party, where a party activist accused him of sexual misconduct. “I felt these clammy, sweaty hands crawling up my leg,” the woman said of Dowson, who was married. He denied the allegation, but left the BNP to launch Britain First. He later left the anti-Muslim group over a dispute about its invasions of mosques, which he thought were a step too far.
But Golding and his cadre stuck with the group as it grew more extreme. Golding and Fransen racked up multiple arrests for entering mosques and harassing Muslims. Golden was also accused of sexual assault. After one of Britain First’s hallmark rallies accusing Muslims of sexual abuse, Golding allegedly sexually assaulted a young rally attendee at a hotel, Britain’s The Times first reported. Former Britain First member Graham Morris told the Guardian that Fransen tried to convince the alleged victim not to report Golding. “You’re going to have to come back to the bar and let everyone see you with Paul [Golding] so it looks like a misunderstanding,” Morris accused Fransen of telling the young woman. Neither Golding nor Fransen commented on the allegations.
Attacks on women are a defining feature of far-right groups in the U.S. and abroad. American white supremacist groups routinely invoke misogynist tropes to lure angry young men to their ranks. These groups blame feminism for white men’s perceived lack of power, and promote “trad” (“traditional”) family structures, which restrict women to the home.
The Proud Boys, a violent ultranationalist group, cloaks its sexism in language about “venerating the housewife,” while founder Gavin McInnes has used his media platform to claim that “sexual harassment doesn’t really exist” and “women shouldn’t be in the workforce.” McInnes has used sexist language to promote violent attacks, particularly against transgender people. “Choke a bitch. Choke a tranny. Get your fingers around the windpipe,” he said in an episode of his web show.
Two leaders in the alt-right movement have allegedly gone further than call for violence. Fascist figureheads Matt Heimbach and Richard Spencer have both been accused of beating their wives.
Spencer’s estranged wife, Nina Koupriianova, accused the white nationalist leader of being “physically, emotionally, verbally and financially abusive” in divorce papers first revealed by BuzzFeed. Shortly after their marriage, when Koupriianova was sick in bed, Spencer dragged her down the stairs by her hair, arms, and legs, she alleged in the divorce suit. She included screenshots of emails with Spencer that reference the alleged incident. Spencer did not deny the attack in the emails, though in an interview with HuffPost, Spencer denied ever abusing Koupriianova.
Her divorce filing also accused Spencer of smashing her head into the floor, and later grabbing her by the neck when she was four months pregnant. When she was nine months pregnant, she alleged, Spencer tried to punch her in the face. She included a transcript of a recording, allegedly from that night, when she asks Spencer “you’re going to hit a pregnant woman?” Later in the transcript, she accuses him of trying to push her into a stove.
Meanwhile, Heimbach, the former leader of the white supremacist Traditionalist Worker Party, was arrested last spring after he allegedly beat his wife and her stepfather in a bizarre dispute. Heimbach was having an affair with the wife of his wife’s stepfather, Matt Parrott, who was also the TWP’s spokesman. Parrott and Heimbach’s wife arranged to catch the other couple having an affair. When Parrott confronted Heimbach, the two got into a brawl, after which Heimbach allegedly went home and grabbed his wife by the face in front of their children, making her bleed.
The fight caused the TWP to dissolve and led to a brief jail stint for Heimbach. When he got out, he told the hate-tracking group the Southern Poverty Law Center that he was watching a TV show about a dystopian, patriarchal society.
“Catching up on Season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale,” Heimbach texted the SPLC.