Members of Britain First stormed a Sharia council for the third time in six years.

Shortly before 1pm on Monday, January 20, Paul Golding. leader of the far-right political organisation, along with two associates, burst into the Islamic Sharia Council, in Francis Road, Leyton.

It is the third time the group have targeted the centre, following similar stunts in 2016 and 2014.

The trio filmed a video, which has since been viewed over 7,000 times on Youtube, claiming the centre was a “barbaric” Sharia court operating a “parallel legal system”.

Police were called and arrived after the men had dispersed.

The centre, opened in 1982, provides mediation and counsel on matters of faith and culture that are not covered by English courts.

Khola Hasan, a scholar at the Islamic Sharia Council, said: “We are not a court. He [Paul Golding] makes a point of saying that we call ourselves a council as if we are trying to hide the fact we’re a court. We never have been, we have always been a council.”

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Khola Hasan dismissed claims the building was being used as a Sharia court.

Golding and Britain First campaigners were served with a High Court injunction in 2016, banning them from mosques and Muslim institutions for three years; the injunction expired in August of last year.

“We are simply helping Muslims with any kind of dispute resolution, or queries regarding their faith in the modern world", Ms Hasan said.

“The other thing that we do is offer mediation. The reason people are coming to us and not going to an English court is because they are Muslims and it is something to do with their faith.

“For example, it could be parents and children who are not getting on because the children are going to night clubs and the parents are not happy about it, they can’t go to an English court because an English court will not be able to answer that.”

Ms Hasan added: “Often, in a Muslim couple the problems are often regarding their faith or their culture. For example, the man is drinking alcohol.

“If you got to an English court or mediator, they would say ‘what is the problem with that’ but for Muslims, it is a massive problem.”

The centre also offers Islamic divorces. In Islam, when a couple get married, they sign a Nikah – a contract. Following that they go to a registrar’s office for a civil ceremony. If the couple were to get divorced the English courts would only dissolve the civil ceremony, therefore Muslim couples also go to the council to dissolve the Nikah.

Ms Hasan added: “We are not in any way treading on the toes on English law, he mentions ‘harsh criminal punishments’… We are not allowed, under Islamic law, to apply criminal law here because we do not have jurisdiction. We do not apply any aspect of criminal law. If we ever feel the law has been broken, we call the police."