And so, finally, followers of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, were able today to see PanoDrama, his documentary intended to torpedo the BBC’s proposed edition of Panorama about him. The problem for Lennon was that the Beeb had already seen it, and had told him exactly what he would not achieve by going ahead and publishing. The Corporation’s statement tells you all you need to know.
This is what the programme makers have told: “BBC Panorama is investigating Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon. The BBC strongly rejects any accusation that our journalism is ‘faked’ or biased. Any programme we broadcast will adhere to the BBC’s strict editorial guidelines”. And there is more.
“Some of the footage which has been released was recorded without out knowledge during this investigation and John Sweeney made some offensive and inappropriate remarks, for which he apologises … BBC’s Panorama investigation will continue”. And that is that. Lennon’s documentary has failed in its first objective.
There was worse to come. Zelo Street has only seen the first ten minutes or so of what in Roman days might have been termed Tedius Maximus, boredom thresholds being what they are and all that. But that was enough to show that Lennon’s “exposé” was in fact so selectively presented as to be worthless. One example will serve to demonstrate this.
The first specific target Lennon identifies is not the BBC, but Hope Not Hate, and here he claims that a predecessor organisation to HnH had been involved in the Panorama edition Maggie’s Militant Tendency, where the Corporation caved in and settled a libel action brought by then Tory MPs including the disgraced Neil “A Liar And A Cheat” Hamilton.
This claim has a problem: HnH actually split from that predecessor organisation, and many in the BBC - including then Director General Alasdair Milne - believed that the programme should have been defended. But Lennon then came out with another blatant misrepresentation as he introduced a young man called Tom Dupré.
Dupré, so Lennon told his audience, was targeted by HnH, and that their involvement led to his dismissal by his then employer Standard Chartered Bank. But there is a problem here: what Lennon does not tell is that Dupré was co-leader of the UK branch of Generation Identity, which is widely regarded as a neo-Nazi organisation.
As the Independent reported at the time, “Generation Identity furthers a conspiracy theory that ‘indigenous Europeans’ are being replaced by migration and calls for its members to mount a ‘Reconquista’ of the continent”. Dupré left GI, but “defended Generation Identity’s core theory of the ‘great replacement’ of white Europeans”.
The Indy also told that Dupré “was fired from his job as a junior banker at Standard Chartered over his role” [in GI]. Not because of Hope Not Hate.
Ten minutes in, and Stephen Lennon’s documentary has already sprayed its credibility up the wall. And that’s before the lawyers have had a look. More later.
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