Free Tommy Robinson: What Can You Do?

englishdefenceleague 19 November 2012

EDL Leader Robinson remains locked up in Wandsworth prison

He is grateful for all the messages of support he has received and for the donations made to his defence fund,

On 24th November a demonstration is to be held outside of the prison to allow us all to show our support.

But many people have been asking what else they can do to help.

One thing that you can do is to help raise awareness. Only a few in the media have spoken about Tommy's continued detention, and fewer still have spoken out against his treatment.

This is despite the recent news that Abu Qatada, once described as "Osama bin Laden's right hand man in Europe", has been released on bail.

Freedom for Islamic extremists, prison for Tommy Robinson.

Qatada bailed, Tommy jailed - in what sort of world does that make any sense?

So please, write to your MP (contact details are available here), write to your newspaper, write to your broadcaster, write to anyone who could help do more to make the country aware of Tommy's situation.

Ask them why they've stayed silent. Ask them if they even know. But most importantly, ask them to tell others. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing - let's use it.

The following is an example of the sort of letter you could send. Please feel free to copy it, to copy parts of it, or to write one of your own.

Dear ___________

I write to you regarding the present situation of Mr Stephen Lennon, otherwise known as Tommy Robinson of the English Defence League.

It is my understanding that Mr Robinson is currently being held on remand following allegations that he entered the United States illegally. I am writing to you not to question his guilt or his innocence in this case, but to question why he faces such a long stretch in prison when the government seems to have such problems dealing with people who pose a genuine threat to this country.

Whatever you or I may think of Mr Robinson’s beliefs they are evidently far removed from the likes of those of Abu Hamza or Abu Qatada. These men both have established links to terrorism and do not seem to deny that they incite hatred, violence and murder. Despite this, both men have also managed to make a mockery of the British justice system.

On the contrary, Mr Robinson claims that he wishes to defend Britain (and its justice system) from an ideology that he believes threatens it. This is a laudable goal. And that is why treating Mr Robinson in such a despicable way is so dangerous. Even the slightest suspicion that the decision to keep him on remand was politically motivated could do enormous damage to the belief that in this country all are considered equal under the law and are to be treated accordingly.

The erosion of this belief is something that we should all fear and is, I believe, exactly the type of thing that Mr Robinson and his organisation have been warning us about. If we can’t count on equality under the law then we will end up with little more than a two tier system, where the favoured are treated leniently and the ‘politically inconvenient’ (or those who have been effectively demonised) are treated with contempt. My worry is that contempt of individuals could soon become, or at least appear to become, contempt for due process. And if that happens then we will find ourselves with a genuinely divided country.

If Mr Robinson posed a threat to others, or if there was a credible risk that he would seek to evade justice, then of course it would be possible to justify his continued detention. But the authorities have produced no evidence of the former, and as one of the main figureheads of his cause it seems ludicrous to suggest that Mr Robinson would not wish to face his accusers.

The comparison with the cases of Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada is important because it reveals something very worrying about the present state of the justice system. A vast amount of time and money has been spent trying to prosecute, sentence and in some cases deport people who pose a very real threat to this country. These are not merely people whose views we regard as ‘radical’ or ‘extreme’, but people who would use religion to justify and promote atrocities. It is understandable that this new form of religious extremism would pose the courts a problem – as it does politicians. But that is why it is so important to be mindful of comparisons.

When a group of Muslim extremists burnt poppies on Remembrance Day they walked away with £50 fines. When Tommy Robinson attempted to stop them by snatching away a placard, he was fined seven times that amount.

What message do politicians wish us to take away from this? What lesson do they think we shall learn from Tommy Robinson’s continued detention? The authorities have granted bail to terrorism suspects – many of whom have used their freedom to continue preaching hatred. They have also granted bail to members of the so-called ‘child grooming gangs’ that have plagued towns in the north of England – a number of whom have used their freedom to continue their abuse of young girls. But they will not grant bail to Tommy Robinson – a man whose greatest crimes appears to have been to criticise the steady erosion of freedom of speech and the growing lack of equality under the law.

This is a worrying precedent and there can only be one response: I believe that the time has come to speak out in defence of freedom of speech, to make clear that the only limits to free expression should be when it is used to incite a crime, not when it is used to say things which are politically inconvenient or which the professionally offended claim causes them offence.

I ask only that you do what you can to raise awareness of Mr Robinson’s case.

Thank you