THE anti-Islamist known as Tommy Robinson filmed a “rant” in Rotherham this week — sparking a huge social media reaction and an active response from the police.
Uniformed officers turned out to confront the public speaker (pictured) — whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon — as he filmed himself discussing the town’s child sexual abuse scandal outside Riverside House.
Two videos posted on Facebook attracted tens of thousands of views and provoked more than 4,000 comments.
Many were supportive, with one social media user hailing him as “the new Churchill”, but others were more critical, accusing the former English Defence League leader of spreading “fake news”.
Robinson, who made the video in Rotherham as part of what he claims will be a documentary called The Rape of Britain, referred to Daily Mail reports that 426 (he quoted 490) muslim males in the town were being investigated in relation to CSE.
He described this as the biggest issue in the UK today and incorrectly (his figures do not add up) commented: “Nearly 20 per cent of the Muslim population of Rotherham....in one small town....have been raping kids.”
In other, larger towns, it must be worse, he said.
Robinson said reporting restrictions were being imposed in court cases, which meant the public did not hear the true details of what had happened and added: “If you want to get a transcript it costs you £1,000 a day.
These trials take 50 days. That’s £50,000.”
He added “the whole world’s going to know” what has been going on.
Robinson also complained that he had been in town for five minutes when the police turned up to speak to him and posted a shorter video entitled “Rotherham Police, anything to hide?”
Rotherham Advertiser editor Andrew Mosley said: “To say that the details of the trials have not been reported due to restrictions and that the public do not know what is going on is both offensive and wrong.
“Yes, there are restrictions in place, but these are generally to protect the victims of the abuse and involve names, relationships and addresses.
“Contempt of Court law prevents us from reporting certain details before or during a trial and if we chose to ignore the law we could be at risk of collapsing the trial, and we’re sure Tommy wouldn’t want that.
“Equally, by law you cannot call a defendant a rapist when they have pleaded not guilty until if and when they have been convicted of the crime.
“Anything we have left out of our reporting has been due to either the legal reasons mentioned or public decency.
“The Advertiser has made sure the people of Rotherham knows as much as possible about what is happening in the Stovewood trials.
“Since March 2016 we have covered 32 weeks of crown court CSE trials, in addition to the many days we have attended magistrates hearings.
“Robinson is also wrong, and probably knows it, to say that 20 per cent of Muslim males in this town are rapists. Being investigated does not make you a rapist for a start.
“These comments are deliberately inflammatory and designed to attract publicity. It works. More than 970,000 people like his Facebook page, his Rotherham video has had almost 4,000 shares, has attracted around the same amount of comments — many in support — and been viewed 155,000 times.
“That is why we have chosen to report on his visit to Rotherham. To ignore it would simply be to seem to be in an imagined media cover-up and also to ignore those people who agree with his comments.
“His message is timed to take advantage of a difficult time in this country’s history, with much of the population suffering from a decade of austerity, poverty, low self-esteem and looking for someone to blame as well as someone who appears to back their cause. Wrongly, they believe he is that man.
“The former British National Party member, who has convictions for contempt of court, breach of the peace and fraud among other offences, should do us all — including the victims of child sexual exploitation — a favour and keep away from Rotherham.”
Asked about the police response, Supt Steve Chapman said: “As the country remains on the heightened threat level of ‘severe’, we would be negligent in our duties if we did not approach someone photographing a public building in darkness to make enquiries with them about their intentions.
“After speaking to the individual, officers were reassured that there was no cause for concern and continued their patrol.”