After Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, rocked up in Leeds last Friday and got himself arrested outside the court building where a significant number of defendants were on trial on grooming gang related matters, he was duly nicked, placed in a Police van and taken away, all the while protesting his innocence, but making sure he asked for a solicitor and admitted he was “on a suspended sentence”.
I've only had the one bottle, honesht
Much has been said and written about Lennon’s arrest since, but it’s not over until the fat pundit sings, or at least attempts to. So it was that professional slob, confirmed has-been and amateur human being Rod Liddle was given a platform by the increasingly desperate and downmarket Spectator to pontificate on the matter.
Liddle, a supremely immodest man with much to be modest about, did not get off to a good start. His post, titled “Was Tommy Robinson arrested for being Tommy Robinson?” begins “The founder of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, turned up in Leeds on Thursday to film people going into the trial of several Muslim men accused of ‘grooming’ and sexually assaulting white girls”. Anyone spot the howler?
Lennon turned up in Leeds on Friday, not Thursday. Still, mere journalistic slip, eh? Do go on. “He did not speak, chant, accost anyone or do anything other than point his mobile phone at attendees, from a distance. Nor was he with a crowd. Still, seven coppers turned up and bundled him into a paddy-wagon accusing him of a breach of the peace”. And another howler - the cops did not accuse him of anything.
They did, of course, tell Lennon the grounds they had for arresting him. But that is not the same as making an accusation. One might expect a former editor of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme to be able to display a grasp of such details. Could Liddle get a Liddle worse still? He certainly could. Quite a lot worse, in fact.
“I’m not remotely a fan of Robinson. But I do not like the idea that simply being Robinson is enough to get you arrested. Or that writing something in defence of Robinson puts you somehow beyond the pale”. No evidence is ponied up that Lennon was nicked solely because of who he was. Neither, of course, does Liddle manage to mention what Lennon did - that he was already on a suspended sentence after what happened in the precincts of Canterbury Crown Court last year. Forgetful bloke is Rod.
And the lack of ponying up evidence wasn’t over: “Also, wouldn’t it have been lovely if West Yorkshire Police had acted with as much rigour and alacrity when they were first told of the horrific sexual assaults taking place within their community”. Given that more than 20 individuals are, or have been, on trial for the offences to which Liddle alludes, it’s blindingly obvious that WYP has acted with “rigour and alacrity”.
The post then ends abruptly: perhaps someone at the Speccy discovered the reporting restrictions placed on what happened to Lennon next, and the potential of any contempt of court to endanger the trials on which Lennon was claiming to report, which Liddle mentions almost as an aside. But what he’s written is bad enough.
Rod Liddle is not stupid. He knows exactly why Lennon was arrested. But the temptation to play the Islamophobia card and score some clicks was too much for him. That is all.