A History of Grifting: Britain First Fundraising

29 03 23

This is an edited chapter from our 2022 Britain First report: ‘Britain First: Dysfunctional, Dangerous and in our Communities‘.

Paul Golding and Britain First never miss an opportunity to ask their supporters for money. At times the group has raked in thousands of pounds via merchandise and donations. Recently, Britain First has used the money to acquire three minivans, a HQ in Manchester and a training gym in London, making it one of the best equipped far-right groups in the UK. However, not all of their funds have been raised ethically.

A previously loyal British National Party (BNP) apparatchik, Paul Golding was considered by his former colleagues as having been promoted above and beyond his capabilities. In every role (even as a district councillor for the party) he’d been considered lethargic at best. By the time the BNP’s political fortunes and money ran dry, Golding had been earning a very healthy stipend as both director of BNP publicity and overseeing its plummeting online donations.

With the simultaneous launching of the National People’s Party (NPP) and Britain First, Golding was written off as little more than a gullible front man, a puppet for the BNP’s controversial and hated former fundraising “guru” Jim Dowson.

Fundraising “guru” Jim Dowson

His much-vaulted conversion to thunderous and rapturous Presbyterianism was seen as another necessity Golding had undertaken, primarily to earn a living without (hard) work. But after a year in Northern Ireland, embedded with Dowson’s family, businesses and religion had a profound effect on Golding. He was tutored in the financial benefits of proselytising end of the world scenarios, the deathly panic of impending doom and personal and political financial distress to those susceptible to keep coughing up small and regular donations.

A founding member of the Protestant Coalition which brought thousands of angry Loyalists into conflict with Belfast City Council, Golding saw first-hand the emotions a few flags and angst could raise.

Here’s some of the ways Britain First have raised money over the years:


Thanks to Dowson, Facebook became a veritable cash-cow that would make Britain First among the most popular political parties on social media. Through that medium Britain First would sell thousands upon thousands of t-shirts, pin badges and mugs. 

In 2015, The Daily Express “exposed” Britain First’s “Patriot Store” for claiming it sold “Best of British” clothing:

“The clothing, sold by the Patriot Store website in a section dedicated to the far-right group, also used the image of the Royal Crown without permission. Shoppers who bought hoodies, fleeces, sweatshirts and polo shirts with slogans were told the products were UK-made. The Advertising Standards Authority also ruled the website had not been granted permission to advertise images of the Royal Crown. It added that consumers would consider the ‘Let’s Buy British’ wording on the website to mean the clothes marked Britain First had been manufactured in the UK.”

Daily Express, 2015

Fake Soldiers

In April 2014, police in the Essex seaside town of Southend responded to complaints from concerned locals and ex-service personnel: “Two police officers and a street ranger spoke to people who visited the stall run by Britain First which asked people to sign a petition calling for better conditions for Armed Forces and to donate £3.” The police spokesman added: “We would advise anyone who has been asked to donate money to charity or sign the petition to ensure they are fully aware of the organisation’s aims.”

Britain First had sent men in paramilitary garb to pose as soldiers or ex-soldiers to blur a line between their own fascist beliefs and the charitable activities and fundraising by charitable organisations such as Help For Heroes and The Royal British Legion.

Golding’s mentor, Dowson, using the name John Wilson, defended the group’s actions by claiming they were not doing anything illegal and were in fact “doing this all over the country.” Britain First had sidestepped permit rules by simply handing out badges to anybody who signed their petition and (inadvertently) made a donation of more than £3 to Britain First.

Emergency, Legal and Everyday Appeals

To be signed up to Britain First’s email list is to be slowly tortured for money by hysterical appeals. Britain First’s emails are a constant emergency appeal to keep Golding and Britain First in a lifestyle that is neither earned or deserved. In 2018, the party’s Chief of Staff quit the party citing the party was “rotten to the core, with sleaze and depravity.” 

After the Electoral Commission published its shameful findings into Britain First’s fraudulent accounting and conduct, Britain First made no mention of the findings (that we can find). Instead, having waited only a few months, Britain First told its supporters it was suing the Electoral Commission “Socialist pigs” because it was a “gaggle of politically-correct leftist Remainers” out to “obstruct our party from standing in elections.” This was not the case, obviously, but so began a series of emails demanding and begging supporters for money. No totals were given for how much the party raised from twenty plus begging and dubious emails claiming they were taking the Commission to the High Court.

The last email on the subject from the party to its supporters was on 26 June 2021, when on top of his twenty plus previous begging emails on the subject of suing the Electoral Commission, Golding launched a new and final “Electoral Commission Attack Fund”. This appeal was for another £12,000 to fight the Electoral Commission in the High Court. Further back in January 2020, Britain First asked supporters for £5,000 to add to existing funds to “to power our legal action” against the Commission, bragging proudly that since 2011 “we have endured and survived around fifteen different legal battles!”

Britain First was re-registered by the Electoral Commission on 27 September 2021, not as a result of a High Court battle between Britain First and the Electoral Commission, but according to The Independent: “Its official registration as a political party was announced hours after Golding, 39, and his former deputy Jayda Fransen, 35, agreed to pay “substantial damages” to settle a libel case.” The High Court heard that they falsely claimed the Halal Food Authority and two employees were involved in funding terrorism in February 2017, and offered no defence to the resulting defamation claim. Fransen, who was estranged from Golding and Britain First at the time of the settlement, lost her home.

Suing Facebook, Suing Everyone

Although it is almost impossible to keep track of the number of appeals Britain First launches to help pay for the myriad of either self-inflicted or totally pointless causes, HOPE not hate recorded between February 2018 and February 2019 appeals for legal challenges and legal fees for a total of £210,800.

Another battle the party undertook was an appeal for funds to sue Facebook. Kicked off the social media platform in March 2018, Britain First attempted to use articles guaranteed under the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland (where Britain First were temporarily domiciled).

The party launched an appeal for £35,000 to fight Facebook in June 2018 and an appeal for £15,000 for its “Facebook Freedom” fund two months later. Despite a temporary reprieve granted for Britain First Northern Ireland and threats and updates detailing court cases, no court cases known to us eventuated and Britain First remains barred from the social media platform.

In January 2019, Golding wrote to supporters suggesting they “chip in” to also help him take legal action against YouTube. He wrote: “At present, Britain First is engaged in civil legal action against Facebook for political discrimination in Belfast High Court. Once this case is concluded – at some point in February or early March – our next legal action will be against YouTube, which is owned by Google.” HOPE not hate is unaware of any legal actions by Britain First against either YouTube or Google.

Andrew Edge Lifts The Lid

During 2020, Britain First’s ‘Chief of Staff’ Andrew Edge blew the whistle about fundraising by the group.

Edge claimed it was known and accepted policy among the leadership for Britain First to remove monies from unsuspecting peoples’ bank accounts and that Paul Golding used the endless appeals made by the party to fund a lavish lifestyle for Golding, his family and close friends.

He revealed how a 2017 trip around Europe he attended with Golding and Fransen was funded by appeals under the pretext the pair were on the run. Before Golding and Fransen feigned smuggling themselves back into the country, appeals to fund their flight of fantasy paid for five star hotels, expensive nights out and even flashy jewellery purchased for Fransen when hers and Golding’s notoriously volatile relationship turned violent.

Certainly no angel himself, Edge profited from Britain First’s louche lifestyle and found himself central to many of the party’s and Golding’s interesting accounting. For three years Edge lived a cashless lifestyle, complete with housing, meals, alcohol and travel – that is until he found himself lumbered with large debts. Edge claims he had been named as the driver of Golding’s vehicle whilst Golding himself committed numerous driving offences.

Andrew Edge

A legal opinion sought by HOPE not hate about a number of claims made by Edge about Golding, suggested Edge, who had mild learning difficulties on account of Dyslexia, had been the victim of coercive control by Golding. 

Edge’s flight from Britain First led to another appeal from Golding and his new partner, Ashlea Simon. Simon, who describes her occupation as “political”, is a full-time activist for Britain First and houses the party from her rented semi in Manchester.

Simon was appointed a Director of Patriot Books in 2020. The company has twice faced compulsory strike off by Companies House. Simon launched a security appeal in November 2020 to fit alarms at her home/party offices, for £7,000.

Simon wrote “This is such a serious situation confronting our movement that Paul has promised to write to everyone personally who chips in and helps make our ‘Security Action Plan’ a reality.”

By 21 November, Simon claimed they had already raised £4880 for a “HQ SECURITY OPERATION”. The resultant security features, according to someone who viewed them, looked like little more than cheap, £60 self-install alarms purchased from Skrewfix. 

Golding claimed in an email that HOPE not hate had paid Andrew Edge to murder Golding and his family. Despite visits and complaints to the police made by Golding, no charges eventuated.

Did Britain First Rob Tom Foley?

One of Edge’s most damning allegations about Britain First concerns the fortunes (or lack of fortune) of former serviceman Tom Foley. In March 2019, Foley undertook to walk in protest about his homelessness and all round generally hopeless situation.

In March 2019 Britain First reported: “Homeless veteran Tom Foley is at present on a lone protest walk from Lincoln to London. This long-serving ex-soldier has been made destitute by the leftists in Lincoln Council.”

Britain First launched an appeal to help the former soldier, writing “Britain First is currently trying to raise £1,500 for Tom so he can get a one bedroom flat when he finishes his protest walk in a few days.” By March 17th 2019, Britain First claimed it had raised £1130 of their target.

Andrew Edge claims the figure raised was between £17000-£17,400. The party duly paid Foley his £1500, but little or nothing was ever seen or heard about him from Britain First. That was until Britain First’s commercial rivals, migrant hunters Alan Legget (AKA Active Patriot) and the “Little Veteran” Nigel Marcham, found Foley destitute and homeless again in February 2022.

Foley attacked Britain First in a series of interviews claiming Britain First were obsessed with money, “it’s all about money with Mr Golding” he said in a YouTube address that month. Addressing Golding, Foley said: “I know how much money you raised, I know where it is.”

Foley also alluded to an open rumour that Golding and Ashlea Simon keep monies in bank accounts at the Wells Fargo bank in New York. Foley also claimed Golding’s erstwhile former “Chief of Staff” Andrew Edge had offered to sell Foley’s story for “twenty or thirty grand” to the newspapers.

Addressing Golding again, Foley demanded the other £15,000 he believes he is owed by Britain First from the monies they raised on his behalf.

Britain First responded hysterically claiming Foley had been staying with members of HOPE not hate staff who had fed him drugs and alcohol. Nobody from HOPE not hate has ever had any contact with Foley – as Golding and Britain First well know.

For more information on Britain First, check out our Britain First report.


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