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EDL Leader Tommy Robinson Given 'Easy' Interview On BBC's Today Programme

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The BBC's flagship Today Programme has been criticised for running a "gentle" interview with the leader of the far-right English Defence League.

Tommy Robinson, real name Stephen Lennon, used the pre-recorded interview to claim "the non-Muslim working class don't have a voice" and warn that "it's not going to end pretty".

He denied any EDL involvement with recent attacks on mosques, even suggesting the attacks had been carried out by Muslims.

Sunder Katwala
Good that Tommy Robinson "utterly condemns" all violence; he has convictions for violence + hooliganism

And he claimed he opposed all violence, despite conviction for violent behaviour.

James Mills
The interview with EDL leader Tommy Robinson was shocking, poorly researched interview prep, didnt challenge his false claims...

Online, many people questioned the lack of a counter-voice, and asked why some of his inaccurate claims were not challenged.

Presenter Sarah Montague took to Twitter to question what more "heat" would have achieved.

Sarah Montague
Interesting reax to EDL intvw. Wondering what more "challenge" - I presume that means heat - would achieve.

Robinson admitted his group has "completely questionable" tactics, but denied his group was behind a blaze at an Islamic centre, which was daubed with the letters EDL, in London's Muswell Hill last week.

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"If I'm honest, I'm completely sceptical that it is even non-Muslims that have done that," he said.

Asked if he would condemn attacks by his members on Muslims, he replied: "Utterly condemn it, disgraceful.

Sunder Katwala
Big flaw to take at face value false statements from man with both violence & fraud convictions

"Every single speech I gave since Woolwich, in fact in the last four years, condemn any acts of violence. So the only way to solve this is through democratic process, through peacefully protesting."

He then brought up his own arrest for assault, saying he had attacked someone doing a Nazi salute at an EDL event.

Kevin Maguire
Woeful interview with convicted footie hoolie Stephen Lennon aka EDL's Tommy Robinson. He'll laugh all the way to next EDL brawl

A BBC spokeswoman said: "Today’s programme looked at the recent rise in Islamaphobic attacks, such as the recent arson attack on a London mosque.

"The BBC has a responsibility to both report on the story and to try to offer insight into why it is happening. The EDL are a key part of the story and we believe it is important to reflect the fact that opinions such as those of Tommy Robinson exist.

"His views were challenged and we spoke to guests with alternative opinions elsewhere in the programme.”

Not everyone was critical of the BBC's tactics. Some suggested it would have been counterproductive to be seen to patronise Robinson by interrupting him, while Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk ‏tweeted: "Don't understand why people are complaining about EDL being interviewed on @BBCRadio4 - it's called democracy!"

  • Robinson yells from public gallery as EDL terror plotters are jailed
  • Muslim groups fear 'wave of attacks'

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