Wednesday, 22 Jan 2020

What is Tommy Robinson's real name and why did he change it?

Tommy Robinson has today been jailed for contempt of court after he filmed defendants in the Huddersfield grooming gang outside court.

The English Defence League founder and former leader of the far-right group was given a nine-month sentence for sharing information from the ongoing case live on Facebook from Leeds Crown Court.

Details of the video emerged earlier this week, which revealed he told viewers about the alleged offending while telling them that the trial was ongoing and reporting restrictions were in place.

Robinson could have helped keep the grooming gang on the streets by ignoring the restrictions, which were in place to ensure proceedings were fair.

A judge read out his real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon as she passed sentence at the Old Bailey.

But why did the campaigner change his name to Tommy Robinson?

He was born Stephen Christopher Yaxley on November 27, 1982, and later became Yaxley-Lennon to reflect the name of his stepfather Thomas Lennon.

He has previously used the pseudonyms Andrew McMaster, Paul Harris, Wayne King and Stephen Lennon.

Robinson has accumulated several criminal convictions and has previously served three prison sentences.

His convictions include violence, financial and immigration frauds, drug possession, public disorder offences and contempt of court.

Robinson, who had been banned from entering the US due to a drug charge, was convicted of possession of a false identity document after he used a passport with the name Andrew McMaster to board a flight from Heathrow to New York in 2012.

He was caught by fingerprints at JFK, but left the airport and entered the US illegally.

Tommy Robinson’s jail sentences:

His criminal record includes violence, financial and immigration frauds, drug possession, public order offences and contempt of court.


In 2005, Robinson was convicted of assaulting an off-duty police officer after he intervened to protect Robinson’s girlfriend from him.

He was jailed for 12 months.

In 2011, he was given a 12-week jail sentence – suspended for 12 months – for headbutting a man in Blackburn.


In 2012, Robinson was charged with using false travel documents after entering the US illegally by using a passport with the name Andrew McMaster.

A judge told him at the time: ‘What you did went absolutely to the heart of the immigration controls that the US are entitled to have. It’s not in any sense trivial.’

Robinson was jailed for 10 months and released on electronic tag on February 22, 2013.


In 2012, Robinson was charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by misrepresentation in relation to a mortgage application.

He pleaded guilty to two charges and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.


In 2017, Robinson received a suspended sentence for putting a trial at Canterbury Crown Court at risk of collapse – after he broadcast statements from inside the court building.

In 2018, he was jailed for a similar offence at Leeds Crown Court. However, he was released after successfully challenging the court’s sentencing procedure.

In 2019, the attorney general decided that it was in the public interest to bring further proceedings against Robinson.

On July 11, he was given a nine-month jail sentence.

Robinson stayed one night before returning to the UK with his own legitimate passport – which bears the name Paul Harris – although it’s unknown whether he has even gone by that name.

He then took on the name Tommy Robinson – in honour of a prominent member of the ‘Men in Gear’ MIG football hooligan crew, which follows Luton Town Football Club.

Robinson claims he started using multiple identities during his time with the EDL for protection.

He doesn’t use his alter-ego at home, and prefers to keep his political side separate from his wife and children, it has been suggested.

How Tommy Robinson could have helped keep Huddersfield rape gang on UK streets:

Robinson could have helped keep the Huddersfield rape gang on the streets by ignoring reporting restrictions designed to ensure the proceedings were fair.

He claimed the activities of the gang were being covered up because the offenders were of Asian origin.

In reality, reporting of the case was only being postponed for well-established legal reasons.

The restriction was put in place because the defendants were being dealt with in separate trials.

In such cases, reporting is sometimes postponed until the final case so jurors cannot be prejudiced by reading accounts of previous trials.

Instead, Robinson claimed the cases were being covered up because the men were Muslims in video footage which also showed him approaching defendants in the second trial as they approached Leeds Crown Court.

Lawyers for two of the defendants in the grooming gang applied unsuccessfully for the jury to be discharged on May 26, relying on the way Robinson had confronted the defendants and the allegedly prejudicial nature of what had been said.

The case could have been dismissed if they application was successful.

One of the defendants later went on the run after a protest against Robinson’s arrest and imprisonment, held outside Leeds Crown Court on June 1, was advertised in advance.

There was a further application to discharge the jury based on the effects of the demonstration, which was rejected by the judge, and the jury returned their verdicts on June 5, finding the defendants guilty on all counts.

Robinson was aware of the potential consequences of his actions at Leeds Crown Court – as he had been given a suspended prison sentence for contempt of court in 2017 after trying to film three Asian men and a teenager who were on trial at Canterbury Crown Court accused of gang-raping a teenage girl.

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