Ex-EDL Leader Tommy Robinson's Talk On Tolerance To Schoolchildren Cancelled

Tommy Robinson was due to talk at a school in Northumberland
Tommy Robinson was due to talk at a school in Northumberland

A school which booked the former leader of the English Defence Tommy Robinson, who has a criminal record for violence and fraud, to talk to schoolchildren on tolerance has cancelled his visit following "pressure".

The school in Northumberland had invited the controversial figure to speak to GCSE and sixth form pupils but has since withdrawn its invitation.

Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, sensationally quit the EDL in October, saying he could no longer control the extremist elements within the organisation.

The move was called "dangerous" by anti-Islamophobia group Tell MAMA and said the British public should be "wary" of what would replace the "toxic" EDL, which has previously called for mosques to be burned and Muslims deported.

Robinson was scheduled to deliver an address to pupils at the Duchess Community High School in Alnwick, Northumberland.

Head of religious education Louis Spence defended letting the former EDL leader to talk to sixth form and GCSE pupils.

“By inviting visitors as diverse as Tommy Robinson, students are given the opportunity to rise to the challenges they will face as adults," he told The Mirror.

"There is a moral courage in thinking through difficult issues, standing up for what you believe in, whilst still showing respect and humanity.”

Robinson told the BBC Asian Network the school had cancelled after "pressure" and "probably intimidation", but the school refused to comment further.

"The school thought it was beneficial and after pressure and probably intimidation they have cancelled, which is no more than I would have expected.

"I was asked to speak at Oxford University, but they had to cancel due to threats.

"Am I the right person to do it? Have I got a past? Yes. Am I proud of some of those things? No I'm not.

"There are plenty of people in schools who have been in trouble with the law."

A spokesperson for the Quilliam Foundation, which was credited with Robinson's move away from the EDL, told HuffPost UK he was "independently invited" to the school and the talk had not arranged by the organisation.

Aside from leading demonstrations causing millions of pounds of damage collectively, his supporters' overt racism, causing injury to police officers and going to a demonstration disguised as a rabbi, Robinson has had his fair share of run-ins with the law.

He had served a 12-month prison sentence for assaulting an off-duty police officer who intervened during a domestic incident between Yaxley-Lennon and his partner in 2005, before his involvement in the EDL.

He has been arrested at numerous EDL demonstrations, which he has been banned from attending as part of bail conditions.

Robinson has also been convicted of assaulting a member of his own movement, head butting an EDL demonstrator in Blackburn in 2011.

One of his most serious misdemeanours could have led to a diplomatic incident, on his way to attend the "Stop the Islamisation of Nations" conference in America, he was deported for using a false passport, and given 10 months in prison.

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