Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, is the leader of the English Defence League (EDL) street protest movement, which targets innocent Muslims under the guise of being ‘anti-Islamist’. He emerged as the leader of the EDL in 2009.
Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was born in Luton to Irish parents. Around the year 2001, he was active in the local hooligan scene. He then appeared under the pseudonym Tommy Robinson. The alias Tommy Robinson comes from the leader of the Luton Town “Men In Gear” (MIG) football hooligan crew, an author of two books in 2006 and 2007 giving an inside perspective of his own life and those around him. Lennon was involved in the anti-Islam group United People of Luton in 2008. In August 2009, he became the leading figure of the newly established English Defence League, after emerging victorious from a factional dispute. He appeared masked in public at first, until the Sunday Mercury newspaper managed to photograph his face in April 2010.
Lennon married in 2011 and is the father of three children. According to the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, he lives in Wilstead, a village on the outskirts of Bedford. According to him, he is under 24-hour police protection due to “Muslim extremists” threatening to behead his family, and he wears protection when appearing in public. Lennon is the owner of a sunbed shop in Luton.
Searchlight identified Tommy Robinson as Lennon, and claimed that he served a twelve months prison sentence for assaulting an off-duty police officer who intervened to stop a domestic incident between Yaxley-Lennon and his partner Jenna Vowles. He was convicted on 18 April 2005 for assault occasioning actual bodily harm and assault with intent to resist arrest while his partner was cautioned for possession of cocaine.
In November 2010 he was charged with assaulting a police officer after confronting a poppy burning by Islamists by jumping over a barrier, but this charge was later dropped. In July 2011 he was convicted of ‘using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour’ while leading a gang of Luton Town supporters in a fight against Newport County fans.
In September 2011, Lennon was arrested after the Tower Hamlets demo for breach of bail conditions, after attending an EDL demo that he was banned from. After his arrest, Lennon began a hunger strike in custody, claiming to be a “political prisoner of the state.”
The EDL itself does not deny that some supporters have had a BNP affiliation in the past. Indeed, Tommy Robinson admits to having been a BNP member. However, the group does not accept the characterisation of the group as a BNP affiliate. Although the BNP has forbidden its members from joining the EDL, and the EDL makes loud public statements on the evils of fascism; many consider both organisations to comprise of little more than football hooligans and neo-Nazis.