Fifty-five cross-party MPs, including Select Committee chairs, prominent Conservatives, and Shadow Cabinet members, have written to the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, demanding that the US maintain the country’s travel ban against violent extremist ‘Tommy Robinson’ (Stephen Lennon).
The MPs have expressed “grave concern” that the US government may grant a waiver to Stephen Lennon, allowing him to undertake speaking and media engagements in Washington DC next week and likely raise in the range of £1million.
In their letter, the MPs warn that Lennon will use his proposed visit next week “to speak to prominent audiences in Washington DC, and to secure media appearances to promote his violent and extremist agenda”. They highlight the fear that funds he could raise would be used “to organise further disruptive demonstrations in communities across the UK”.
Lennon is currently banned from entering the USA due to 2012 conviction for entering the country on a false passport (for which he received a 10-month prison sentence in the UK). He travelled to the US on a false passport having been denied a visa because of his criminal convictions for violence.
Seven Republican Congressmen as well as US anti-Muslim groups, the Middle East Forum (MEF) – which has been helping to fund his legal defence, during a contempt of court jailing and appeal – and the David Horowitz Freedom Centre, have invited the former leader of the English Defence League to speak at a closed event.
Calling on the US government to maintain its ban, Joe Mulhall, senior researcher at HOPE not hate, said:“Stephen Lennon is a violent thug who broke American law by entering the US on a fake passport in 2012. It would make a mockery of the US laws for the Administration to allow him into the country.
“His fundraising visit is not in the UK public interest. Lennon would receive a huge boost if he’s allowed into the US, not least in the form of around £1million in funding, which he would then use to organise demos around the UK, sowing further division and violence.”
Matthew McGregor, head of campaigns at HOPE not hate, said: “Stephen Lennon is a violent thug. If he gets into the US for this visit it’d have a terrible impact here in Britain, so why the hell are Theresa May and Sajid Javid not on this? They should tell the Trump administration very firmly: apply your laws, and don’t allow this thug in.”