After being refused entry to the USA because of his criminal record - which includes entering the USA illegally - Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, had to appear before a Middle East Forum gathering in Washington DC by videolink. Having rather more time on his hands than those who had travelled to the States, Lennon turned his attention to other causes. Like a school in south Wales.
This is what Lennon posted on Facebook: “This just underlines how our education system has been infiltrated by far-left fascists … Birchgrove Comprehensive School (@birchgrovecomp) in Swansea has a board in the school for anti-bullying week where pupils have the opportunity to write who they respect”. Do go on.
“I have been informed by a number of different pupils at the school that someone kindly wrote I respect Tommy Robinson because he stands up for the British public. Surely pupils are allowed to have free thought and opinion?” There was more. A lot more.
“Not according to Andrew Owen the Head teacher. He lost his shit with all the children. He said whoever wrote that better march straight to his office immediately. If no one admitted it then he would effectively scan CCTV and track down the child who dared to have an opinion that was different to his”. Then comes the definite whopper.
“He then threatened to notify the police and informed the pupils they would be placed on the list with people who are suspected terrorists, it will ruin their future and they will be unable to get a job. Bullying children about a board that is supposed to support anti bullying, what a disgrace! I don't know about you but If my child was attending Birchgrove Comprehensive School run by someone displaying Fascist bullying and threatening tactics against the pupils, I would make a complaint, just saying”.
Spraying around words like “fascist” and “bullying”? Claiming it’s the “far left”? Check! Where Lennon got that information from is not known. Nor has anyone out there on the far right stopped and thought that him communicating with children might not be a very good idea. But, as he included the school’s Twitter handle, there was plenty of aggressive feedback, to the extent that the account had to be closed down.
As the BBC has reported, “Teachers have been abused and threatened online by supporters of Tommy Robinson after he criticised a school on Facebook … The former English Defence League (EDL) leader said Birchgrove Comprehensive School in Swansea had a head teacher ‘displaying fascist bullying’”. There was more.
“He claimed a pupil was criticised for including him as a person he admired in an anti-bullying project … Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart said events had been deliberately distorted … A presentation ceremony due to be held at the school on Thursday was postponed and the school's social media accounts have been suspended”. So Lennon has single-handedly disrupted scores of kids’ education. What a star.
And as for that claim about notifying the Police, Wales Online has told that “The council, speaking on behalf of the school, said events had been ‘badly and deliberately distorted’, and added that the allegation that the headteacher had threatened to call the police was not true”. So it wasn’t THE TRUTH. And there was one more problem for Lennon.
Wales Online again: “Writing on his Facebook page, Mr Robinson added that if his child was attending Birchgrove Comprehensive School, ‘I would make a complaint, just saying’ … Shortly afterwards, the school started to be bombarded with allegations about the headteacher, and about disciplinary standards there”.
But council leader Rob Stewart - wonder if he’s going to be targeted by Lennon for another of those late night “polite conversations”? - said this: “Birchgrove Comprehensive School is an excellent school. It is unacceptable for teachers and children to be the target of abuse by far right supporters on social media”. So what’s the reality?
We can see this by looking at the latest Estyn report for Birchgrove Comprehensive, which tells us that the answer to the three Key Questions, “How good are the outcomes? … How good is provision? … How good are leadership and management?” is GOOD.
Stephen Lennon, on the other hand, has posted in follow-ups to his Facebook claims, “Looks like Birchgrove comprehensive allegedly has a history of bullying children!” … “Since publishing the post I have been contacted by a number of pupils and some ex pupils all confirming that the school is awful” … “Keep receiving more allegations of bullying in that school. I suggest the governors of the school need to sort out student and teacher bullying”. Is this really THE TRUTH?
There is no published confirmation of any of the allegations made by Stephen Lennon. None at all. Not one word of reliable citation backing him up. Yet he has seen fit to make allegations against Birchgrove Comprehensive School, and as a result has disrupted the education of scores of children. And for what, apart from personal aggrandisement?
He likes to call “liar” on others. But a lot of what he has said about that school has already been condemned as distortion or worse. Yet, if the authorities take a dim view of him sticking his bugle in, it will all be someone else’s fault.
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