The leader of Pegida UK, Tommy Robinson, has been ejected from the city of Cambridge and threatened with criminal charges – for watching a football match in a pub with his three young children, all aged under ten, and some friends.
Mr Robinson had travelled to the university city yesterday with two friends and their four children to watch his home town’s football club, Luton, play against Cambridge. Following the match the party of ten went to a local pub to watch another football match on the television.
As they were enjoying the game they were approached by a number of officers from Cambridgeshire police who ordered Mr Robinson to leave the city, or face being issued with a Section 35 dispersal order.
— Tommy Robinson (@TRobinsonNewEra) August 28, 2016
Mr Robinson asked why he was being asked to leave, to which an officer replied: “The situation is, because of the lesson’s we’ve learned in the past, we know that if certain groups stay within the city, they’re causing violence. […] There’s going to be a likelihood of violence if a group stays here from this match.”
When Mr Robinson protested that he was with his family and that no other Luton supporters were being ejected, another officer accused him of acting aggressively and told him “You’re going to get arrested in a minute.”
Security staff at the pub approached the police to insist that Mr Robinson and his party had not been causing any trouble nor given them any cause for concern, but Police – who moved the security staff away to prevent Mr Robinson filming the exchange – were unmoved.
The party then elected to leave but were followed down the road by four officers who told Mr Robinson “we’re following you and there’s no way out of that,” causing his two children, both aged under 10, to cry in terror.
Speaking to Breitbart London today, he added: “My children are terrified of the police. I can’t understand how they are allowed to continually harass me and my family.”
In a statement filmed following the incident Mr Robinson later said that he believed the police had been sent to provoke a reaction from him. He said: “This is everywhere I go, everything I do: followed, harassed, persecuted. I haven’t done anything wrong, I’m watching a Manchester United game!”
According to the Crown Prosecution Service website, section 35 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 gives officers the power to disperse people they deem troublesome.
The website states: “The dispersal power is available to uniformed police officers and designated Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) to deal with individuals engaging in anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder, not only when they have occurred or are occurring but when they are likely to occur and in any locality.”
Failure to comply with the direction to leave is a criminal offence, carrying a penalty of a fine of up to £2,500 or up to three months in jail.
Mr Robinson has been continually harassed by the police since coming to prominence as the founder of the English Defence League, which aimed to uphold British culture. He disbanded the group after its involvement in a series of violent clashes, but has since gone on to head the UK branch of the German-founded Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida). The group holds regular peaceful marches against Islamism.
In April this year he had a charge of battery dismissed in court by a judge who questioned the police’s motive for bringing the case. Mr Robinson admitted being involved in an altercation while in prison for alleged mortgage fraud – a charge he says was also politically motivated – but insisted that he fought in self-defence after being placed in a wing full of Muslims who placed a bounty on his head.
Following his release from jail the prison authorities assured him he would not be pursued over the altercation, only for him to be arrested just two days after announcing the formation of Pegida UK.
Cambridgeshire Police and the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s office were both approached for comments but have not responded.