Following his recent appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, former EDL head man Tommy Robinson has carried on a low level slanging match with Piers Morgan. Anything bad about the GMB encounter was not his fault, it was a set-up, Morgan was out to get him - the roll-call of excuses has been endless. But along the way, Robinson said some things that could get him into serious trouble. Like serious legal trouble.
And then yesterday he fetched up at Royal Ascot, where his notoriety preceded him. At the end of his Day At The Races, Robinson was captured by a coach dashcam having a violent altercation with another man. He can be seen aiming a series of blows at his opponent. This, too, is someone else’s fault. The problem for Tommy is that when this and two other strands are pulled together, it may mean even more trouble.
Let’s start at the very beginning, as it’s a very good place to start. Assed Baig posted a short video with the comment “Video of former leader of the EDL @TRobinsonNewEra repeatedly punching a man at Ascot”. Morgan then observed “Tommy Robinson hates Islam because he says it's a 'violent' religion. Here's Mr Robinson at Ascot yesterday”.
So far, so much of a wind-up. But Robinson then pleaded mitigation. Well, sort of: “Some context to the video released today, I will release a full video later. This is the Muslim coach driver who released the vid”. It was a Scary Muslim (tm) wot did it! Well, Mandy Rice Davies situation. But there is still a problem for him.Self-defence, which if seriously provoked, as has been claimed, is one thing. But aiming a series of punches is not self-defence, nor will any court let a defendant get away with pretending that it is. And where the trouble doubles up is when Robinson makes statements about Piers Morgan (and Jeremy Paxman) that are not true.
He made these claims on Twitter: “Damn cheek from a man accused of hacking dead children's phones by Jeremy Paxman at the Leveson inquiry … Paxman testified how you taught him to hack phones, and later your newspaper paid £££damages for hacking dead people's phones”. Paxman did not make any hacking accusation against Morgan at the Leveson Inquiry. Nor have the Mirror group titles faced any accusation, or paid damages in respect of, hacking a dead child’s, or dead anyone’s, phone.
And explaining how hackers get into a target’s voicemail is hardly “teaching”. Paxman’s account is clearly retelling how Morgan encouraged the Newsnight presenter to change his voicemail code to something that was not the factory setting. If Morgan or Paxman were so minded, they could issue proceedings for defamation and might expect to win their cases.
Then it potentially gets even worse: after Rupert Myers passed adverse comment about Robinson, and told him “I'm sure you consider all publicity to be welcome”, Robinson replied “#trollwatch”. This refers to the practice of turning up on a target’s doorstep, or at their workplace, with his pals and a camera, for one of those “polite conversations”.
Did Tommy Robinson tell Rupert Myers whether he intended to do that? Do we take that as a threat he has made against Myers? Well, Myers will know now. All of which, taken together, might mean serious trouble for the former EDL man. And it’s his own fault.