Senior EDL leader who campaigned against child grooming is convicted of abducting schoolgirl
A senior English Defence League leader who blamed Muslim gangs for abusing children has been convicted of abducting a schoolgirl.
Paul Whiteside, the EDL lead for Lincolnshire, campaigned against child grooming claiming gangs linked to mosques were responsible for abusing young girls.
But yesterday Whiteside admitted abducting a 15-year-old.
The court also heard he had photographs of the girl emi naked in a bath
The 47-year-old organised protests and rallies for the far right wing group and was the self-appointed director of three factions, including Louth EDL and Lincolnshire EDL.
Last year, after a Lincoln mosque was plastered with anti-Islam posters by EDL members, Whiteside defended the attack claiming mosques were sheltering “grooming gangs all over the UK”.
Lincoln Crown Court heard Whiteside, from Louth, Lincs, had known the girl through EDL connections and the pair had formed a relationship which amounted to grooming
He had met her a number of times after school, chatting to the girl for up to an hour at a time.
His behaviour had alarmed neighbours so much they took photos of the pair and alerted police.
But the girl had later called Whiteside when her family became concerned about the relationship, telling him he was “in danger and at risk of violence”.
She ran away from home and Whiteside took her from his home in Louth to his mother’s house in Derbyshire.
When police were called by his mother, Whiteside “lied his head off” to officers under questioning before being charged with abducting the girl.
The court also heard although there was no evidence of a sexual nature, photographs of the girl “in various states of undress and in the bath” were discovered on Whiteside’s phone.
Whiteside, formerly of the Louth area but now of Creswell, admitted a charge of child abduction by keeping the child away from her mother in October 2016.
He was given a suspended jail sentence and a 10-year sexual harm prevention order.
Judge Simon Hirst, passing sentence, said: “You lied your head off to the police telling them you did not know where she was.
“On your phone were photographs of the girl in the bath and in a state of undress. You have not been charged with those photographs but it is clearly a worrying feature of this case.”
Judge Hirst said as Whiteside had served six weeks on remand, he was suspending the prison sentence. The court heard that Whiteside also has kidney disease and received dialysis three times a week.
The EDL said it had “relieved” Whiteside of his position and condemned what it described as “any exploitative or abusive behaviour, especially criminal actions, carried out against a child by any person.
In a statement it added: “We will neither defend nor support any person who undertakes child sexual exploitation or abuse, particularly where grooming is involved.”