7 Jan 2013

EDL leader ‘Stephen Lennon’ jailed for 10 months

The leader of the far-right English Defence League is jailed for entering the US on a friend’s passport, but the case throws up questions over the defendant’s real name.

tephen Lennon uses the pseudonym Tommy Robinson

The leader of the English Defence League, Stephen Yaxley Lennon, has been jailed for 10 months after admitting using someone else’s passport to enter the United States.

Stephen Lennon, who uses the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, pleaded guilty to possession of a false identity document with improper intention, contrary to the Identity Documents Act 2010, at Southwark crown court today.

They 30-year-old used a passport in the name of Andrew McMaster to board a Virgin Atlantic flight from Heathrow to New York. However, he was caught out after his fingerprints were taken by customs officials.

Lennon left the airport and entered the US illegally on the passport but left the country the following day and used his own passport to return to the UK. The court heard that he had previously been refused entry to the US so used his friend’s passport to enter the country.

He used a self check-in kiosk to board the Virgin Atlantic flight at Heathrow, and was allowed through when the document was checked in the bag drop area. When he reached JFK airport, customs officials took his fingerprints and realised he was not Mr McMaster.

Lennon was then asked to attend a second interview but left the airport and entered the US illegally. He stayed just one night and travelled back to the UK the following day using his own legitimate passport – which carries the name Paul Harris.

In a 2010 interview with Channel 4 News Lennon claimed his name was Paul Harris.

Dwindling attendances

Since Lennon’s imprisonment the EDL has been under the leadership of Kevin Carroll, but attendance at protests has dwindled in recent months as members drift away and the EDL splinters into more extreme factions.

Mr Lennon has led controversial anti-Islam protests across the country and his visit to New York coincided with a right-wing conference on opposing Islam.

In sentencing Judge Alistair McCreath stated: “I am going to sentence you under the name of Stephen Lennon although I suspect that is not actually your true name, in the sense that it is not the name that appears on your passport.

“What I have to deal with you for is clear enough. You knew perfectly well that you were not welcome in the United States.

“You knew that because you tried before and you had not got in, and you knew the reason for that – because, rightly or wrongly, the US authorities do not welcome people in their country who have convictions of the kind that you have.

“With that full knowledge, you equipped yourself with a passport. I am told that it was given you by way of a loan from your friend Andrew McMaster, to which you bore, I am told, some resemblance.

“And by use of that passport you did what you could to get into the United States. But you did not get in because they took your fingerprints and they worked out that you were not who you claimed to be.

“I am told that, by whatever means, you slipped away from the US authorities, got into the country and then very rapidly – and understandably so – got out of it.”