Stephen Yaxley-Lennon

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Yaxley-Lennon in September 2015

Tommy Robinson is the pseudonym of the former leader in the far right English Defence League. According to the Guardian, he is a 28-year-old carpenter from Luton.[1]

In its July 2010 edition, Searchlight magazine named Robinson as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, a former British National Party member from Bedford sentenced to 12 months imprisonment in 2005 for assaulting an off-duty police officer.[2] Yaxley-Lennon's name first surfaced in a comment accompanying an anonymously posted video purporting to show Robinson's face.

According to a screenshot taken by Searchlight, Robinson appeared to confirm his identity by commenting on Facebook: "hey at least people can see my hansome [sic] face now."[3] According to the One Million United blog, Robinson's Facebook page was deleted shortly after publication of the Searchlight story.[4]

Lennon has also used passports in the names Andrew McMaster and Paul Harris.[5]

Activities

Convictions

In July 2011, Yaxley-Lennon was found guilty of "using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour" during a clash between rival football fans in Luton on 24 August 2010.[6]

The BBC reported:

He was given a 12-month community rehabilitation order and a three-year ban from football by Luton magistrates. He must also carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £650 in costs.[7]

In 2013, Yaxley-Lennob was imprisoned for 10 months for visiting the United States using someone else's passport. In November 2013, he pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring with others to obtain a mortgage by misrepresentation from the Abbey and Halifax building societies in 2009.[8] He was subsequently jailed for sixteen months in January 2013.[9]

He was found guilty of mortgage fraud in January 2014 and sentenced to 18 months in jail.[10]

Pamela Geller

According to British group Hope Not Hate, Lennon is 'personally linked' to counterjihad campaigner Pamela Geller of the American Freedom Defense Initiative. The organisation reports that when Lennon was imprisoned for using a fake passport to travel to a SION event of hers in New York, she gave $10,000 to 'help his family'.[11]

However their relationship appears to have abruptly chilled in October 2013 after Robinson quit the EDL at a press conference facilitated by the Quilliam Foundation. Geller blogged that Robinson and Kevin Carroll were akin to 'American POW's taken by enemy combatants and forced to say things they did not believe before cameras'.

It has become painfully obvious that the enemies of freedom have broken Tommy Robinson. The British authorities' harassment, the systematic persecution, the jailings, the solitary confinement, the threatening of his life, the threats to his family, his having to move several times, his children having to change schools, the constant false charges - he finally cracked.
They broke him. He made a deal with the devil. He didn't want to go back to jail, and this looks like his bid to stay out."

Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll are "no longer on the SION board", Geller confirmed to the Huffington Post.

New Party

Following the Counterjihad London 2011 meeting in London in September 2011, Yaxley-Lennnon claimed moves were afoot to start a new political party. Reuters reported:

Lennon revealed that the EDL was in discussions with similar groups across Europe about forming a political party.
"There will be an anti-Islamist political party forming his year," he said with confidence. "Britain's primed for it."[12]

Departure from EDL

In October 2013, Yaxley-Lennon announced he and 12 other senior members were leaving the EDL, in a move 'facilitated' by the Quilliam Foundation.[13]

In late 2013, Yaxley-Lennon told Lars Hedegaard and Ingrid Carlqvist of Dispatch International:

When I met the people from Quilliam, I realized that they could help me with a lot of things. I’m just a working class bloke from Luton. I don’t know how to set up and run a think tank and get donations. I asked if they would teach me and they said yes. They said: ”You may have whatever opinions you like but you will get more out of expressing them in a more political way.”[14]

Yaxley-Lennon later claimed to have received about £8,000 by Quilliam, and the organisation admitted to the Huffington Post in 2015, that it had paid him for outreach work in the period following his departure from the EDL. Quilliam disputed however Yaxley-Lennon's claims over the nature of their financial agreement, which he described as 'being paid to quit the EDL'.[15]

Post-EDL support for 'anti-Islamisation' movements

Since leaving the English Defence League, Yaxley-Lennon has promoted a number of 'anti-Islamisation' / anti-Islam movements to his considerable Twitter following.

Germany

Yaxley-Lennon has supported the anti-Islam movement PEGIDA in Germany but has been critical of attempts to start a Pegida UK. In October 2015 he spoke at the one year anniversary rally of PEGIDA in Dresden. The rally came two days after a pro-refugee mayoral candidate in Cologne was stabbed in the neck by a man with a neo-Nazi background.[16] In December 2015 he announced at a rally in Dresden that he would lead Pegida UK.

France

Yaxley-Lennon has supported rallies in France including a 16 January 2015 demonstration in Lyon organised by Luttons Unis Contre l'Islamisation de l'Europe (LUCIDE) and an 18 January protest organised by Riposte Laïque.[17]

Netherlands

Yaxley-Lennon was a speaker at the launch of the Dutch PEGIDA branch in October 2015.

Israel

screengrab: tweet from MCAPUK showing Yaxley-Lennon holding a gun on an Israeli tank in Golan Heights, November 2016.
  • Yaxley-Lennon has been vocal in support of Israel, telling the Jewish Chronicle newspaper in a 2015 interview that the country was the frontline in the 'battle for freedom, liberty and democracy' and that he planned to holiday in Israel once he was no longer restricted under licence from leaving the UK because of a conviction for mortgage fraud..
'The media would have us believe that everyone in this country hates Israel, that Israel is this big monster. [...] That comes from this whole left-wing mindset, this whole victim thing with Palestine which is inbred into students at university. It’s not inbred into anyone I know – white working-class people.' [18]
  • On November 11 2016, Yaxley-Lennon tweeted pictures of himself on an Israeli tank, holding gun in Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPACUK) called for British police to investigate Yaxley-Lennon, calling him a 'fully fledged armed radical extremist'. Since the start of the Syrian civil war, UK police have warned that Britons who travel to Syrian territory and take up arms will face likely questioning and possible prosecution for terrorism offences on their return to the UK.

Pegida UK

On 3 December 2015 it was reported that Lennon was to help launch a Pegida UK group. Despite its previous British incarnations, which included a number of small protests which were out-numbered by anti-fascist counter-demonstraters, Lennon stated that they were not 'officially sanctioned by Pegida'[19] whereas his group had the backing of the founders of the original PEGIDA movement in Dresden, Germany.

Lennon, who had recently left prison after being convicted of mortgage fraud, told Channel Four News in an interview: 'We have no time for homophobes now. We don't want anyone who hates Jews. We want families. We want moderate Muslims.'[20] Yet at the same time he said he wanted a ban on all Muslim immigration to the UK for five years, to prevent the building of new mosques for five years and a ban on foreign funding of mosques.[21]

Lennon remained with the group after former soldier Timothy Scott, named as the new PEGIDA UK leader, was ridiculed for giving a 'car-crash' interview to Channel Four News and quit the role two days later.[22]

When speaking to a PEGIDA rally in Dresden, Germany, Lennon told the crowd that the first PEGIDA UK action, set to take place on 6 February, would be part of simultaneous demonstration planned for the same day in 12 European countries - including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Holland, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland as well as the UK - under the slogan 'Save our Country. Save our Culture. Save Our Future.' According to journalist Jamie Bartlett, if it goes ahead it could be 'the first time different Right-wing, anti-immigration street movements have worked together so closely'.[23]

Mohammed cartoon exhibition / 'civil war' plot

In June 2015, Lennon met with other far-right activists including Anne Marie Waters of Sharia Watch UK, Alan Ayling, a former funder of the English Defence League and Jim Dowson, formerly leader of Britain First. The group planned to host an exhibition of Mohammed cartoon exhibitions in September that year and according to Dowson - who blew the whistle on the plan on his Knights Templar blog - they hoped to spark a civil war.[24]

Book

In December 2015, Lennon published a book called Enemy of the State, under the tag line 'the high price on man paid for exercising his right to free speech.'[25]

Affiliations

Contact

External resources

Notes

  1. Robert Booth, Matthew Taylor and Paul Lewis, English Defence League: chaotic alliance stirs up trouble on streets, The Guardian, 12 September 2007
  2. Nick Lowles and Simon Cressy, The BNP past of the EDL leader, Searchlight, July 2010.
  3. Nick Lowles and Simon Cressy, The BNP past of the EDL leader, Searchlight, July 2010.
  4. Exclusive: EDL Panics As Exposed Leader Goes Into Hiding, One Million United Official Blog, 26 June 2010.
  5. EDL leader Stephen Lennon jailed for false passport offence, BBC News, 7 January 2013
  6. EDL founder Stephen Lennon guilty over football brawl, BBC News, 25 July 2011.
  7. EDL founder Stephen Lennon guilty over football brawl, BBC News, 25 July 2011.
  8. EDL founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon admits mortgage fraud, BBC News, 26 November 2013.
  9. Tommy Robinson, former EDL leader, jailed for fraud, BBC News, 23 January 2014.
  10. EDL founder Tommy Robinson jailed for mortgage fraud, The Guardian, 23 January 2014
  11. Hope Not HateThe Muhammed Cartoons: the counter-jihadist plot to ignite a civil war in Britain, Hope Not Hate, July 2015
  12. Michael Holden, 1936 anti-fascist London "battle" has resonance today, Reuters, 4 October 2011.
  13. Ian Dunt, Tommy Robinson quits the EDL, politics.co.uk, 8 October 2013.
  14. Ingrid Carlqvist and Lars Hedegaard, Tommy Robinson’s long journey has only begun, Dispatch International, 5 November 2013.
  15. Tommy Robinson, Former EDL Leader, Claims Quilliam Paid Him To Quit Far-Right Group, Huffington Post, 4 December 2015.
  16. Imogen Calderwood, 'Do not let Germany be dragged back to chaos and destruction': EDL founder Tommy Robinson speaks to 40,000 strong crowd at the Pegida anti-immigrant rally in Germany, Daily Mail, 19 October 2015
  17. Status 7 January 2015, @TRobinsonNewEra, accessed 19 January 2015
  18. Middle East Eye, Gun-Toting British Anti-Muslim Activist Poses On Israeli Tank, MintPress News', 11 November 2016, Accessed 07 December 2016.
  19. Paul Wright, Pegida UK: Birmingham leaders unite to condemn 'far-right' rally organised by Tommy Robinson, International Business Times, 7 December 2015
  20. William Watkinson, UK: Former EDL leader to help launch anti-Islam movement Pegida in Britain, International Business Times, 3 December 2015
  21. Rose Troup Buchanan, Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson will launch UK Pegida, The Independent, 3 December 2015
  22. Steven Hopkins, Pegida UK Leader Timothy Scott Quits After 'Epic Fail' Channel 4 interview, 'Confirms He Does Not Have PTSD', Huffington Post, 5 December 2015
  23. Jamie Bartlett, Across Europe with Tommy Robinson: inside the new wave of anti-immigration protest coming soon to Britain, The Telegraph, 4 December 2015
  24. The Muhammad cartoon exhibition, free speech and the counter-jihadists, Hope Not Hate, 27 July 2015
  25. Tommy Robinson – Enemy of the State, TommyRobinson.com, 5 December 2015
  26. Nicholas Watt and Matthew Taylor, candidate accused of EDL plot urged to 'fess up' and 'go now', The Guardian, 22 March 2015, accessed same day