Far-right activist Blair Cottrell, who made a video beheading a dummy in protest of a Bendigo mosque, has flagged he aims to fight for free speech in the High Court.
The United Patriots Front leader briefly appeared in the County Court of Victoria on Thursday for an appeal mention after he was convicted in September of inciting contempt and ridicule of Muslims alongside supporters Neil Erikson and Christopher Neil Shortis.
Magistrate John Hardy previously said the trio had “crossed the line” with the October 2015 stunt.
During the video, the men beheaded a mannequin, with red liquid flowing from its head and body, outside the Bendigo City Council offices while chanting “Allahu Akbar”.
Mr Hardy said the video was made to induce “as many like-minded people” as possible to their anti-mosque rally planned for six days later.
He convicted the men and fined them $2000 each plus $79.50 in statutory costs – the first convictions under Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.
The trio initially indicated they would each appeal their conviction but only Cottrell will continue with his bid.
On Thursday his lawyer John Bolton asked for the appeal to be adjourned after lodging an 18-page notice of a constitutional matter.
He said Cottrell had been charged with an “invalid law” under the Australian Constitution.
“I say the law’s invalid so why should my client have to defend anything?” Mr Bolton said.
The appeal hearing, which had been set down for August 27 and 28, has now been vacated while Cottrell attempts to take the matter to the higher court.
Mr Bolton told AAP “free speech” was protected under the constitution, “which protects political discourse”.
He also described the charge on which Cottrell was convicted as an “Islamic blasphemy law”.
“My position is my client shouldn’t have to go to trial on a law that is invalid,” he said.
Cottrell previously said his conviction had set a dangerous precedent, claiming “blasphemy charges” destroyed his freedom of speech.
Cottrell is due back at court on November 27 for a further directions hearing.
During that hearing, the court will be updated on the success of Cottrell’s High Court constitutional bid.