As ‘Tommy Robinson’ (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon)’s case was referred to the Attorney General today, an assortment of far-right and fascist groups gathered outside the Old Bailey to hear Yaxley-Lennon speak from a stage constructed outside the court. UKIP leader Gerrard Batten also spoke at the event.
Far-right groups, funded and supported by international figures such as Steve Bannon and Geert Wilders, have been using the case to mobilize anti-Muslim and far-right sentiment while simultaneously claiming to be silenced. Campaigners have pointed out this claim is directly contradicted by the fact they were allowed to construct a stage and sound system and gather directly outside the court today and have received widespread coverage in the national media.
Anti-racists have argued that justice for survivors means that due process and trials for sexual abuse, exploitation and grooming must be respected. They also point to the conviction and 18 year sentence of leading English Defence League (EDL) member Peter Gillett of several counts of rape, indecent assault, actual bodily harm, gross indecency and child cruelty of children between the ages of 8-15 as highlighting the cynical hypocrisy of far-right groups on this issue.
Sabby Dhalu, Stand up to Racism Co-Convenor said: “The far-right mobilisation outside the Old Bailey today shows we are facing an extremely well funded and vicious threat. That Robinson was joined by figures such as UKIP leader Gerrard batten in speaking from a stage constructed outside the court to an assembed group of fascists including For Britain and Generation identity is shows that far from being silenced, this toxic far-right aliance is being normalised and allowed to grow.
“This underlines the urgent need to build the biggest and broadest possible movement against racism and the far-right. We must work together to show we are the anti-racist majority, and the National Unity Demonstration Against Racism & Fascism on 17 November is a key part of that.”
“We must also note the profound irony that those who claim to support women and children subjected to rape, sexual abuse and exploitation are both silent when those such as leading EDL member Peter Gillett are found guilty of these serious crimes and do not stay away from the courts when such trials are taking place.”
Weyman Bennett Stand up to Racism Co-Convenor said: “That the notorious Islamophobe Geert Wilders had intended to show support in person shows why we need mass opposition to the populist, far right. Robinson’s security were instructed to wear a full black clothing, as Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts did in the 1930s. The implied threat of violence in chants from the crowd such as ‘hang the judge’ was reminiscent of the 1970s National Front.
“We need unity to defeat the fascists. This is why we must organise the biggest possible demonstration on the 17th November to mobilise the anti racist and anti fascist majority.”