Published on Monday, 07 January 2013 14:51 Written by Sonia Gable
The leader of the English Defence League appeared at Southwark Crown Court today and pleaded guilty to possession of a false identity document with improper intention, as reported in our news section. Stephen Lennon had used a friend’s passport to get into the USA because he had previously been refused entry.
Lennon was sentenced to ten months in custody. He can expect to be released after serving half his sentence and to have time served on remand taken into account. He has been in prison since late October so is likely to be released in March, or earlier if he is granted Home Detention Curfew for which he is understood to be applying. However, he still faces three charges of conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud, which he denies.
Antifascists have naturally welcomed his well deserved removal from the scene for a few more weeks. The EDL’s decline started well before his arrest and his absence will add to the troubles of the bunch of street thugs who now appear more interested in fighting each other. Lennon’s co-founder and deputy leader Kevin Carroll has abandoned the EDL, preferring to concentrate on his political career, hopeless though that is, with the British Freedom Party of which he has just been appointed leader.
No one else appears to have emerged who can “rally the troops”. It will be interesting to see how many people the EDL can attract to its claimed “huge rally” in Manchester on 2 March, and important for antifascists to use the event to hammer several more nails into the organisation’s coffin. With luck Lennon will still be inside.
Lennon, who as EDL leader calls himself Tommy Robinson, had used a passport in the name of Andrew McMaster to board a Virgin Atlantic Flight from Heathrow to New York, the court heard, but was caught out when customs officers took his fingerprints. He entered the USA illegally and returned the next day using his own legitimate passport which bears the name Paul Harris.
Yet he was charged in the name Stephen Lennon. This rightly caused some concern to Judge Alistair McCreath, who told him: “I am going to sentence you under the name of Stephen Lennon although I suspect that is not actually your true name, in the sense that it is not the name that appears on your passport.”
Usually to get a passport you have to show a birth certificate, a document that usually shows your true name, or evidence of a legal change of name. The Crown Prosecution Service generally tries to charge people in their real name. The judge had sight of his previous convictions: under which name were those recorded?
I don’t subscribe to the view that the EDL was set up by the security services to achieve some nefarious purpose of the secret state, but that does not preclude the secret state recruiting among its key activists or placing its own people at its heart. Whether Lennon/Harris/Robinson is one such, and went off the rails and was abandoned, his purpose over, we may never find out.