• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Tommy Robinson Lashes Out at Critic after Lawyer Arranges Service Stunt

From Mike Stuchbery at the Independent:

For the last few months, I have written about the methods used by “Tommy Robinson” to intimidate and harass those who dare to criticise him. I do this because he’s the most visible figure in a surging UK far right, feted by politicians and media figures alike.

Tonight he paid me a visit. Twice.

After tweeting the news that he was about to be served papers for defamation at his home in Central Bedfordshire, I got to see, in response, what his customary “doorstepping” was like for myself.

Robinson live-streamed the incident to Facebook via an associate, and the video can be easily found on YouTube. Robinson repeatedly bangs on Sutchbery’s door and demands Sutchbery come out; he also promises to return night after night, and he boasts that Sutchbery’s neighbours and others in the town will now be aware that his home is the address of a “case” and a “wrongun”. Robinson also told a passerby who recognised him that Stuchbery is “in with all these bondage and these weird sex cases”, which prompted the passerby ask if he was “looking for a paedo”; Robinson does not clarify.

Stuchbery’s Tweet about Robinson being served papers referred readers to a livestream on the Facebook page of a group called “Resisting Hate”. He also noted that “ITV, Guardian & the Daily Mail” were in attendance, and made a jocular reference to Robinson being doorstepped in the same way that he has doorstepped others. (1) It seems that he was afterwards targeted by Robinson primarily for reasons of convenience: Stuchbery happens to live not far from Robinson’s home, and he is primarily an independent writer rather than a journalist who enjoys the backing of a big news corporation – although Robinson claims that he has the addresses of journalists whom he will “expose”, including one he describes as “Mr Daily Mail Reporter” (a reference to this article).

However, I don’t share Stuchbery’s enthusiasm for the way that the lawyer Tasnime Akunjee (var. Mohammed T. Akunjee) turned the serving of legal papers into a media circus. Akunjee’s first and only concern should be for the best interests of his client, the Syrian teenager “Jamal” who says that Robinson libelled him. The serving of papers could probably have been arranged by mutual agreement elsewhere (although the Daily Mail says that Robinson had ignored earlier correspondence), but if it was really necessary to attend Robinson’s address then a regulated and professional process server ought to have been used.

Instead, Akunjee delegated the task to one Dick Coughlan, described in the Independent as a “YouTuber”. Coughlan is a comedian whose appearance is dishevelled; even Stuchbery describes him as “half ratbeast”, and he brought along a Staffordshire terrier. (2) Coughlan’s involvement was obviously meant to provoke, and it is unclear why the date chosen was one on which it had been widely reported that Robinson was away in Finland. Akunjee followed up the incident by promoting Coughlan’s Patreon page on social media, although he later thought better of it and deleted a Tweet on the subject.

Coughlan did not reach Robinson’s address – instead, he handed the papers to a police officer who was blocking the way (reportedly about 50 metres distant from the house). Coughlan approached the officer alone, having handed over the dog to an associate. At one point the name of a nearby road is visible, and Coughlan refers to a house number.

Although there was no contact with Robinson’s family, this is not how things should be done. However, Akunjee and Coughlan’s stunt was an excuse rather than a reason to target Stuchbery – and to send a message that other critics had better be careful.

According to a statement issued by Bedfordshire Police:

We were called to reports of a man causing a disturbance outside a house in Luton at around 10:52 last night [Monday] and again at around 5:21am this morning [Tuesday]. Officers attended and we are now establishing the circumstances around both incidents so we can determine whether any offences have been committed.

UPDATE: Stuchbery has published a message that UKIP’s NEC Elizabeth Jones has sent to supporters defending Robinson’s behaviour. In her version of the story, “5 men turned up” at Robinson’s house and “terrorised his wife and children”. After “finding out who they were”, Robinson “knocked on the one journalist’s door he knew to ask why”. (3)

UPDATE 2: Robinson has now given his version of the incident on the Alex Jones Show. Robinson told the American conspiracy monger that “six men” in masks had reached to his house and scared his children, and that Coughlan had afterwards made malicious comments about his family on Twitter (Coughlan’s account is currently suspended). These men, according to Robinson, were “sent” by Stuchbery, a claim presumably extrapolated from Stuchbery’s support for crowdfunding the legal action.

Robinson also denies any responsibility for what his supporters may do now, and downplays how he conducted himself outside Stuchbery’s house:

I’ve had so many people contact me…, so many people message me saying “we’ll go get them, we know where they live.” I haven’t said a word, but now, I realise I’m probably being set up… I actually went myself to one of these men’s houses, who set up the people to come to my house and I knocked… I went completely on my own and knocked on the door and said “You have been intimidating my children, come outside and answer a few questions.”

Robinson further claims that the following morning he confronted two men in a white van outside his home, who said they were plumbers but eventually admitted to being police officers with recording equipment (he has a video extract of the van). Robinson told Jones that he is being “set up” so that he can be accused of conspiracy to commit a crime; Jones warns him that the government plans to assassinate him and plant a weapon on him.

Footnotes

1. One of those previously targeted by Robinson include my friend Tim Fenton, shortly after Tim criticised James Delingpole for mainstreaming Robinson via a softball interview. There is reason to suspect that Tim’s blog post was specifically brought to Robinson’s attention by someone else for their own reasons, and that this person or persons supplied the address. More on that here.

2. This seems to me to have been particularly ill-considered, especially if Coughlan foresaw a confrontation. Staffordshire terriers already suffer from an undeserved reputation for aggression, and to bring one to what might become a fraught situation where any dog might become frightened and lash out was irresponsible.

3. Liz Jones goes on to relate that at a recent meeting in Durham, 90% of the audience who had come to see her and UKIP leader Gerard Batten said they no longer “listen or view the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky”, and that when “one man said he only watched Russia Today” there was “loud approvement”.

4 Responses

  1. What a lovely chap. The idea that Yaxley-Lennon or his ilk need “free speech” protection is so absurd.

  2. So where would you put (Extreme?) “Far-Right” (Fascist Nazi Scum Thug?!) Robinson on a scale with Conservatives, Mosely, Salazar, Franco, Mussolini, and Good Ol’ Adolf himself?

    And considering educated, respectable, sophisticated, civilised people so far away from him and his ExtremeFarRightFascistNaziScumThug politics that politically they are at the opposite other extreme end of the political spectrum, keep giving out his real name and his address, or what they think it is, so that not just he, but unconnected new residents of former homes need police protection from vandalism, arson, rape and death threats.

    As broadcasting his personal details seems to be the latest fashion among the smug, self satisfied, snobbish, unself-aware, media elite and commentariat, they have a bloody cheek complaining if he finally responds in kind!

  3. Please turn the comments off, Richard. Your thoughtful, incisive blog posts are undermined by the paranoid shit that I always read underneath them. This isn’t debate. What could I possibly say to Mr B J Mann that would make him change his thinking?

    • Well, you could tell me where YOU put (Extreme?) “Far-Right” (Fascist Nazi Scum Thug?!) Robinson on a scale with Conservatives, Mosely, Salazar, Franco, Mussolini, and Good Ol’ Adolf himself!

      Then you could confirm that you always write Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, Lev Bronstein, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, Ernest Guevara, Nguyễn Sinh Cung, Saloth Sar and even Eric Arthur Blair, and not just Yaxley-Lennon.

      Rather than Tommy Robinson, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Che, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot and Orwell.

      You could explain the reason why “journalists” and others, need to publicise his home address, even when he’s moved, or he’s in jail, and his wife and young kids are home alone, especially when he and they have been subjected to threats of acid, arson, rape, and other attacks.

      And you could try to convince me you’re not a snob and look on Mandelson’s mortgage fraud (and that of every lawyer, cop, and journalist that has ever had help from the bank of mum and dad without declaring it on their mortgage application) and Prescott’s and other MP’s bouts of fisticuffs, in the same way you view “Yaxley-Lennon’s”.

      Over to you, “Treco”!

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