One thing comes clear from the justifications given by Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, for his campaigning - that he takes child abuse very seriously indeed. So he should not be surprised if his critics test his pronouncements against what he has actually achieved in exposing and preventing it.
And that is where the problems arrive: Lennon has exposed very little, if anything, in this area, and has prevented even less. His filming outside courts serves only to endanger trials that are the result of painstaking and costly investigation - which exposes nothing, other than his appetite for self-promotion and disregard for the law.
Worse, his constant pursuit of only one small group of males - those who are Muslims - gives most child abusers a free pass. Worse still is that child abuse was going on under his nose when he was involved with the EDL and he did nothing about it. And yet worse is his excusing all of that by shouting “Quilliam”, when it is becoming clear that Quilliam’s report into so-called grooming gangs is deeply flawed.
Consider all the abuse which Lennon is ignoring. Priests, especially those in and around the Roman Catholic Church, had got away with physically and psychologically abusing children for decades until recently. Children’s care homes across the UK were home not only to vulnerable young people, but also terrible abuse. No comment from Lennon.
But perhaps this is all too abstract, so let’s look at specifics in the here and now. Like Peter Gillett: “Today he was jailed for 12 months at Hove Crown Court after he admitted possessing a Taser … But it can now be revealed that earlier this year Gillett was found guilty of a series of historic child sex offences. After a trial he was convicted of a catalogue of offences against children dating back to 1988 and sentenced to 18 years in jail”.
Or how about Roy Collins? “An ‘arrogant’ Jehovah's Witness subjected two girls under the age of 13 to years of systematic assaults and rapes … Roy Collins, 80, was branded as ‘devious, righteous and arrogant’ by a judge at Swansea Crown Court … He had spent a decade systematically grooming, abusing and raping the two girls”. There was more.
“Collins, of Longford Crescent, St Thomas, Swansea, had previously been found guilty of 26 counts of indecent assault, indecency, and rape at trial when he appeared in the dock at Swansea Crown Court for sentencing”. Not a peep from Lennon on either case.
Worse, those who identify as Lennon’s followers have been targeting one victim: “Rotherham abuse survivor Sammy Woodhouse has come under attack from racists and supporters of Tommy Robinson … It follows an interview with the BBC Newsnight programme where Sammy said that abuse wasn’t just committed by Asian men”.
Has Lennon intervened and told his followers to back off? After all, Ms Woodhouse is entitled to her own free speech, and Tommy is big on free speech, isn’t he? Well, not on this occasion he isn’t. Perhaps it’s because she also said “When you get people like Britain First and Tommy Robinson saying we exposed Rotherham and other places, well no you didn’t … The people who exposed scandals are survivors”.
Stephen Lennon isn’t exposing child abuse. He’s just peddling bigotry.
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