Part IV of a series: Who is Tommy Robinson?
by Michael Isenberg.
Tommy is still on 23.5-hour solitary confinement. The prison is refusing to post his letters to his wife and children quoting that they may be shared on line. I would have thought it is the choice of the recipient to decide if they would like to share a letter they have received. He is also only allowed out of his cell for a shower and phone call at 1-1.30pm each day which means he cannot speak to his children as they are at school. Being treated worse than a terrorist.
That update appeared on Tommy Robinson’s Facebook page yesterday and is just the latest chapter in Her Majesty’s Government’s despicable persecution of the English Defense League founder and anti-Islamization activist.
Part I of this series, I provided a short bio of Mr. Robinson: his upbringing in Luton, his young adult years as a soccer hooligan, and how he was drawn into activism by the growing racial tensions and rising crime in a town where everyone knew everyone else. In Parts 2 and 3 I took on the most common accusations that Mr. Robinson’s opponents level against him, that he’s a fascist (ludicrous) and a racist (it’s complicated).
In this installment, I’ll cover the British government’s response to Mr. Robinson, which can only be described as a vendetta. His current imprisonment, for exercising freedom of the press (or as the police called it, “disturbing the peace”), was merely one in a long chain of abuses and usurpations directed at Mr. Robinson. “The moment we started the EDL,” he writes in his autobiography Enemy of the State,
with me as the nominal head, the British state declared war on Tommy Robinson. Whether it was the police using arrest and detention as a way to either piss me off or disrupt EDL activities, whether it was taking apart my working life going back to the Year Dot, or whether it was prison governors and screws physically throwing me to the lions by putting me on an open wing amongst violent Muslim extremists, I’ve had the lot thrown at me.
The goal? To grind me down. To shut me up. That’s all I can fathom. To make the point that the state can beat down anyone who thinks they can mess with it.
Many of his arrests were little more than harassment. On one occasion he was taken in for burglary—even though eyewitnesses described the suspects as a black man and a 6’1” blonde. Clearly neither were the 5’6” Robinson. But even after being cleared, such harassment does its harm: “The headline would do all the damage required, and I’d seen this so many times, with different charges, different incidents. Accused of this, suspected of that, arrested on this and that … and then the charges are dropped, but the damage is already done.”
Another arrest, this one from 2013, was caught on video. It’s clear that in this case, Mr. Robinson wasn’t doing anything at all other than taking a walk with his EDL co-founder Kevin Carroll, who was the victim of an assault:
Mr. Robinson writes,
I was charged with obstructing a police officer in course of his duty and in what I consider—from some experience—to be one of the British judiciary’s finest moments, the judge threw a wobbler. She was raging, completely pissed off with the police and what they were playing at.
‘I’m not limiting this man’s freedoms,’ she said. And I was free to go.
Alas, not all of Mr. Robinson’s arrests ended as happily, and not all the judges were as concerned with protecting the freedom of British citizens. In 2012 he began a ten month sentence for entering the United States with someone else’s passport (although how that’s a violation of British law mystifies me). Upon his release in March 2013, he faced another charge, this time for giving his brother-in-law a £20,000 loan for a down payment on a house. According to the Crown, that constituted “mortgage fraud,” to which Mr. Robinson entered a guilty plea. The BBC duly reported his sentencing, including the judge’s statement that, “I am satisfied you took part in a thoroughly dishonest course of conduct." But despite the BBC's stated values, which according to its website include being “independent, impartial and honest,” the article neglected to impartially report the details of the loan. Nor did it report Mr. Robinson’s reason for pleading guilty to this charge, which came out of the government's minute examination of of every financial transaction Mr. Robinson had ever made in an attempt to bring him down the same way the US brought down Al Capone—tax evasion:
The police must have spent hundreds of thousands trying to build the tax case against me, then seen their 30 or so charges all whittled away one by one, until finally they played their trump card. They were going to nail my wife over the taxes, a woman who knew nothing about our finances — unless I took the blame on everyone’s behalf.
They were going to get Tommy Robinson once and for all, through a blameless woman. Put her face and name in the public domain, destroy any hope my family had of living a normal life. They’d poured all those resources into trying to nail me, and they had to have something to show for it. My wife and kids? Collateral damage, nothing more.
Mr. Robinson was imprisoned in HMP Woodhill, which the British government designates a Category A facility, “for prisoners whose escape would be considered highly dangerous to the public or a threat to national security.” Typically it holds the most dangerous criminals—murderers, rapists, drug dealers, terrorists, and so on. Why Mr. Robinson, who was convicted of a white collar crime, would be locked up in such a place is unclear, but the consequences of doing so are plain enough. Woodhill has a large Muslim population, which obviously posed a danger to an anti-Islam activist such as Mr. Robinson. Not long after he arrived, he says,
I was taken to a holding room with large windows and I could see there were a few prisoners in there, but three of them were bearded Muslims including [this] big white guy. The screw put me inside — they knew what they were doing — locked the door and calmly walked away. The room had bench seating all round but I never sat down because I knew what was coming next. I kept my chin down but my eyes up, and my back to the corner.
The big white bearded bloke charged and laid into me immediately the screw had disappeared. I got hold of him with one hand because I couldn’t afford to go down on the floor, and I was lashing away with the other, as the other two Muslims came wading in…
By the time the screws came and broke it up my teeth were gone, my skull was gashed open and my eye swollen shut. I was lucky I guess in that it wasn’t fatal. There was a camera up in the corner warning prisoners that they were being watched. The prison told my lawyers that unfortunately it wasn’t working that day.
The camera wasn’t working?
Even after his parole, his problems weren’t over. In late 2014, he received a tweet from someone called “1488Hitler,” who said he “was going to rape my mum, find out where I lived and kill me.” Robinson replied that he’d be outside his probation office the following morning, come get him. In the eyes of the authorities, that was a “threat” that constituted a probation violation. Back to jail with you, Tommy. Twenty-eight days in Bedford nick. He says he was placed in the wing “where the most radical and violent Muslims were.”
On the very first day, Mr. Robinson got into a brawl in the canteen:
This white geezer, McDonald, said ‘I’m a fucking Muslim bruv.’ And the way he said it, well that was it. We ended up fighting across the servery and I battered him…The fight had the desired effect from my point of view. They came and took me to see the governor who said that he was putting me down the block—in solitary—for my own safety.
Because of the stay in Bedford, Mr. Robinson had to cancel a high-profile talk he was scheduled to give to the Oxford Union.
It was subsequently rescheduled for March 2015 and is worth watching in its entirety.
Enemy of the State contains numerous other examples of the oppression that Mr. Robinson suffered at the hands of the Crown—far more than there’s space to catalog in a blog entry. As we’re seeing with his latest incarceration, it’s still going on. Mr. Robinson believes that his legal woes have been orchestrated at the highest levels of Her Majesty’s Government:
[A]fter the Breivik slaughter in Norway [July 2011], [Muslim activist] Mo Ansar wrote to the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Crime and Security, James Brokenshire MP, calling for him to outlaw the EDL. Brokenshire replied, ‘We can’t proscribe them but we are working with a wide range of agencies to address the driver of the EDL.’
(A request to Mr. Ansar for verification and comment had not been replied to by press time.) Regardless of whether there was an organized conspiracy, or merely a series of police, prosecutors, and prison governors acting independently, the persecution of Tommy Robinson for doing little more than exercising his freedom of speech has no place in a free society. If the Battle of Britain was, in Churchill’s words, Britain’s finest hour, then this is its most shameful.
I recognize that many on the Left do not share my admiration for Tommy Robinson’s courage in speaking out against crime in his community inspired by the ideology of Islam. They think he’s a vile individual, both in character and ideas. Fine. Reasonable people can disagree. I had hoped, however, that regardless of what they think about Mr. Robinson himself, they would share my alarm at the prospect of a state that can beat down anyone who thinks they can mess with it. Sadly, my left-of-center friends do not see it that way—as they’ve been telling me in no uncertain terms on Twitter ever since I started on this topic. What they’re saying about Mr. Robinson’s rap sheet, and my response to them, will be the subject of the next (and I’m sure you all hope final) chapter in this series: Part V—What do you think laws are for?
|Michael Isenberg drinks bourbon and writes novels. His latest book, The Thread of Reason, is a murder mystery that takes place in Baghdad in the year 1092, and tells the story of the conflict between science and shari’ah in medieval Islam. It is available on Amazon.com|