#UK: EDL leader jailed following speech against David Cameron

Demonstrators crossing Tower Bridge were denied entry, by imposed by police conditions, to a territory where they say the right to protest no longer exists

Demonstrators crossing Tower Bridge were denied entry, by imposed police conditions, to a territory where they say the right to protest no longer exists

10:30hrs GMT – update added, below [LINK]

According to various national media reports, yesterday’s demonstration in London by the English Defence League (EDL), has passed off peacefully; despite attempts to disrupt the protest, at which many arrests were made.

Following a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on Friday, at which the EDL were denied leave to seek a judicial review, their protest was ordered limited to 30 minutes, within a sizeable cordon; thrown up by police, to act as a security envelope in front of the border with Tower Hamlets. A central London borough which the protesters claimed is increasingly, no longer governed by English law. Saturday’s police operation was immense, coming at what some have said would be a bill to the British taxpayer of up to £500,000.

  Given the profound demographic changes experienced by Britain: awkward, unnerving and controversial protests about Sharia speech codes or gangs of Muslim child-pimps, and the political cultures which enable them, are just increasingly incompatible with strained policing budgets. This is why something like the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill can pass so unopposed through the Westminster parliament; the new law will criminalize almost any hitherto lawful assembly in Britain, on grounds no more weighty than that it be deemed annoying. As with the Public Order Act 1986 – which was enacted in the political wake of the Heysel disaster – it’s quite striking how an association with football hooliganism, has once again been central to getting public support for the state prohibition of opinion in the UK. ”

In the view of George Igler, the director of The Discourse Institute, Saturday’s protest was likely the last such demonstration of its kind, held legally in England’s capital city. Within London, according to the 2011 national census, the English are now an ethnic minority.

Generally speaking broad condemnation has accompanied the EDL, a working class anti-Islam street movement, which began life in Luton following ugly scenes at a troop homecoming parade in 2009. The town in Bedfordshire was also the 2005 departure point for the 7/7 mass-transit suicide bombers, motivated by British participation in the Iraq War. This year two protesters against the UK’s military involvement in Muslim lands currently await trial, alleged with killing a soldier outside his barracks in Woolwich. On May 22nd an Afghan War veteran, Fusilier Lee Rigby, was decapitated while returning from work at the Tower Of London, the historic site from which the East London borough of Tower Hamlets gets its name.

Now described by the BBC Asian Network as a Muslim area, the East London borough’s contentious mayor, Lutfur Rahman, had also initiated a High Court challenge in the week: which sought to ban the demonstration. Tower Hamlets’s association with violent Islamic extremismincluding vigilante Muslim patrols – is a long and well documented one; but court proceedings resulted in the potentially disruptive protest nevertheless being successfully excluded from Mayor Rahman’s borough. The mayor had stated in court, that should the planned demonstration be permitted to walk past the East London Mosque (a frequent speaking venue for Salafist preachers), this would be deemed unacceptable to the local community.

Questioned in court, the Metropolitan Police clearly stated that they expected no violence from the EDL protesters themselves. Nevertheless, Mister Justice King granted the restrictions imposed by Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley on September 3rd, to a demonstration route that had previously been agreed with Scotland Yard in August. After hearing that the London police now feared being unable to cope with ‘serious public disorder’ from as many as 20,000 within Tower Hamlets, as indicated by established intelligence, a judicial review was denied; costs were also awarded against the plaintiff.

According to the claimed extremism monitor-website Hope Not Hate, the EDL leader’s speech primarily attacked the British Prime Minister, for his wish to commit the country’s armed forces, in the on-going Syrian War. Stephen Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson), was also recorded as stating that, ‘David Cameron wants to help the Muslims in Syria, he wants to help the Muslims in Tower Hamlets. The whole time he ignores the Christians in Syria, and he ignores the English people in Tower Hamlets.’ He was arrested after making the speech, for what witnesses claimed was a breach of bail conditions.  Lennon had been told earlier in court, that speaking at the demonstration would constitute no such breach. The conditions, which ban the EDL leader from physically entering Tower Hamlets, continue until he faces trial on Wednesday, at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, for obstructing police during another attempt to walk into the borough. The altercation filmed in June, clearly shows police deeply concenred that anyone might enter the borough seeking to protest at the aforementioned mosque.

  Once more Stephen Lennon is put in jail. Once again we are told that the views he expresses incite racial hatred, so he deserves what he gets. Yet again it is necessary to point out, that inciting racial hatred has been a crime in Britain for decades. Why therefore has Mr Lennon, as a result of all the times he has been arrested over the past four years, never once found himself in court facing the offence, that everyone in British public life apparently agrees that he is manifestly guilty of? ” asked the director of the London-based institute, which lobbies for European free speech reform.

“ The answer is that we are really talking about something new, and very different. A product both of policing priorities and the multicultural experiment, and a crime that no policeman or politician is willing to admit actually exits, namely, incitement to suicide. Yesterday’s events in East London, as with the protracted Emma West case, involve individuals actually goading the society they are in, to prove the tranquil and harmonious claims made for it, by the politicians responsible for its transformation. ”

“ People like these are uniformly derided in the press as working class, brutish, ignorant, deluded or drunk, but they have nevertheless somehow managed to work out that the halcyon future that everyone in their country has been promised, is premised on themselves being the only people for whom intolerance is actually a crime. Once again we are seeing the use of arrest, process punishment, and punitive bail conditions, aimed at accomplishing political objectives that have nothing whatsoever to do with the perceived offense.”

Citing how for nine months beginning in 2011 the Occupy London demonstration was permitted to erect a permanent encampment outside St Paul’s cathedral, with not even those present defecating inside the church being deemed sufficient by police, to warrant the protest camp’s removal; the EDL leader has stated that if freed on September 11th he will again do no more than simply, walk, directly to Tower Hamlets. Presumably once more requiring his arrest. Lennon has been subject to several Osman warnings: official notifications by the British police of credible threats against a person’s life, about which the authorities feel obliged to tell the victim they can do nothing.

  These phenomena demonstrate how the speech rights Europeans now have, are directly proportional to the policing challenge necessary to protect them. If your views are deemed so reprehensible to others that they feel justified in threatening, hurting or killing you, in sufficient numbers, it is the lower cost policing challenge that determines who is treated like a criminal,” stated Mr Igler, who heads the organization which monitors freedom of speech cases across the EU.

“ People in Britain are made uneasy by these protests and just want them to go away. This is why the measures in the bill before parliament have received no coverage at all in the nation’s press. The question of why taxpayers should be forced to pay for the enormous cost of policing such demonstrations, is repeatedly raised, precisely because no one is comfortable with asking why it is they now have to do so in the first place. In a country that can no longer afford to protect politically contentious speech, the conflation of annoyance with criminality, in a blanket law so deliberately vague as to be capable of criminalizing practically any public assembly not specifically licensed to take place, is a perfectly natural next step in the desire to protect the public. ”

“ Of course this protection will be an entirely illusory one, and all that will really be guarded, is the right for police to control political dissention, in proportion to how doing so preserves their budgets. The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill does nothing more than formalize issuing threats, and breaking the law, as valid means for curtailing the speech rights of those without the strength or willingness to do so themselves. ”

“ Because when the law is framed so as to enable the arbitrary criminalization of any problem protest, as a reflex what grows into becoming politically illegal, is being a member of whichever competing group it costs the lesser amount of policing expenditure, to make disappear. ”

UPDATE: New information received can now confirm that the EDL protest overrunning by three minutes longer, than the maximum 30 minutes allowed by Assistant Commissioner Rowley, constituted the complete given grounds for the charge of incitement, for which Stephen Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) was again arrested and jailed yesterday; this 180 second overrun was actually deemed to constitute Lennon’s personal breach of bail, resulting in a night in the cells, and yet one more criminal charge against his name.

Note how, just as with the police’s legal costs for Friday’s court hearing, for which at Scotland Yard’s request Mr Lennon and not his organization was made personally liable, the mechanism of the baseless incitement charge accomplishes the aim of punishing Lennon individually, for the perceived crimes of his entire organization. This device has also, naturally, allowed for the imposition of new bail conditions banning the EDL leader further from Tower Hamlets, until yet another trial date, October 22nd; he was released in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The Discourse Institute
The Discourse Institute
for European free speech reform