An anti-extremist march purportedly to honour victims of the Manchester bombing last year has been criticised for being “disrespectful” to those who died and for using the event to protest at the jailing of Tommy Robinson.
The Democratic Football Lads Alliance had promoted a “silent walk” on Saturday and reiterated that no one attending should drink on the streets.
But footage filmed at the march showed people drinking and carrying placards and singing in support of Robinson, the former EDL leader who was jailed this week for contempt of court.
Dan Hett, who lost his 22-year-old brother Martyn when terrorists targeted an Ariana Grande concert on May 22 of last year, addressed a Stand Up To Racism event and said the DFLA was using the memories of those killed “to further their own hateful and Islamophobic ends”.
He added: “And to me, not just as the brother of a victim but as a proud Mancunian and the son of an immigrant, it’s completely unacceptable and we say no to this.
“And what gets me about this is, can you imagine getting on a train at six in the morning to go to a city that is not yours and to scream hate and abuse in the middle of a city that is still suffering from the loss of all these people?
“It truly, truly is beyond my comprehension.”
The DFLA Twitter account did attempt to make followers show respect at the event but it appeared to have little effect.
Salman Abedi detonated a shrapnel-laded homemade bomb as people were leaving Manchester Arena after an Ariana Grande concert, resulting in the deaths of 22 people and causing injuries to a further 500.
Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, was sentenced to 10 months for contempt of court and a further three months for breaching the terms of a previous suspended sentence.
He was arrested on Friday after using social media to broadcast details of an ongoing trial which is subject to blanket reporting restrictions.
The judge who handed down the sentence on Tuesday emphasised how Robinson’s actions could have caused a long-running trial to collapse, wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer money.
It is the second time he has committed the offence, after previously being told he was on a “knife edge” when he was sentenced in May 2017 for trying to film four men accused of gang-raping a teenage girl who were standing trial.
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: “Not only was it a very long video, but I regard it as a serious aggravating feature that he was encouraging others to share it and it had been shared widely.
“That is the nature of the contempt.
“He referred to the charges that the defendants faced and some charges which are not proceeded against in relation to some defendants.”