Preston police warn that "disorder will not be tolerated" during Tommy Robinson campaign visit

A stern warning has been issued by police in Preston ahead of Tommy Robinson's visit to the city.

Friday, 17th May 2019, 2:29 pm
Updated Friday, 17th May 2019, 3:29 pm
Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, known as Tommy Robinson, is expected to visit Preston on Monday, May 20 as he campaigns to become an MEP in the European Parliament.

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, 36, known as Tommy Robinson, is expected to visit the city on Monday, May 20 as he campaigns for a seat in the European Parliament.

He is running as an independent to become an MEP for north-west England, with elections to take place on Thursday, May 23.

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The far-right activist has taken his campaign to a number of towns and cities in the north-west, where he has been confronted by large crowds of protesters.

On two consecutive days, in Bury and Warrington, the English Defence League founder had a milkshake thrown over him by a member of the public.

But Lancashire Police has warned that such incidents will not be tolerated during his visit to Preston.

A police spokesman said: "Our role is to facilitate a safe and peaceful event where Mr Robinson is allowed to exercise his right to campaign.

"Our policing style will be low key, fair and friendly but firm where we need to be.

"We are impartial and will act when needed to uphold the democratic process of the European Parliamentary elections.

"Any incidents of crime or disorder associated with the event will not be tolerated and we will take action where necessary.

"We recognise the impact this visit could have on the wider community and we will seek to limit the impact on the community where possible whilst at the same time facilitating the right to carry out a lawful election campaign.

"We recognise and will facilitate the right to peaceful protest. If protest does occur we will provide a lawful and proportionate policing response, balancing the needs and rights of protesters with those impacted by the protest."

Robinson had allegedly agreed to a meeting with representatives from Preston's Muslim community during his visit, but this has since been cancelled.

The Light Foundation, a Preston group promoting inter-faith dialogue, invited Robinson to "a peaceful public meeting" to discuss "common issues" and "debunk and clarify misconceptions about Islam and Muslims".

According to the group's co-founder, Nadeem Ashfaq, the MEP candidate requested the group's contact details and was given a telephone number to arrange a date for the meeting.

But on Tuesday, May 14, The Light Foundation revealed that it had not been able to reach Robinson to confirm the meeting.

Mr Ashfaq said: "To date, we have not received any contact or communication from him or his team.

"We can only assume that he does not want to meet us."

"The lack of any contact gives us insufficient time to agree any terms and conditions and to organise a meeting on the 20th of May."