Journalist too frightened to leave home when confronted by ‘screaming’ Tommy Robinson

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Tommy Robinson at the Old Bailey  (AFP/Getty Images)
Tommy Robinson at the Old Bailey (AFP/Getty Images)

A national news journalist was too frightened to leave her own home when confronted by English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson over a negative story she was planning to write, a court heard.

The Independent’s home affairs and security correspondent Lizzie Dearden had contacted Robinson – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – by email about a planned news report on how donations were spent.

She said the “routine” enquiry went unanswered but Robinson went to the home she shares with partner Samuel Partridge.

He was heard “screaming” in the street while buzzing the intercom at the block of flats to demand a face-to-face meeting, Westminster magistrates court heard.

It is said the activist had made baseless allegations Mr Partridge is a paedophile who had groomed a child and was threatening to publish the claim to his supporters in an alleged attempt to squash the donations story.

Giving evidence via videolink on Friday, Ms Dearden said they had called 999 after Robinson made initial contact over the intercom and could be heard in the street below.

Asked why she did not go down to meet him, she said: “I didn’t know what he was going to do.

“From what I could hear on the intercom and in the street, he sounded angry and agitated.

“Basically, I was too frightened to go down.”

Tommy Robinson at Westminster magistrates court (PA)
Tommy Robinson at Westminster magistrates court (PA)

The Met Police has applied for a Stalking Prevention Order against Robinson, 38, arguing he poses a risk of repeating his behaviour in the future.

Robinson, who is resisting the order, says his actions during the incident in January this year were “reasonable” and he does not pose a future risk.

Ryan Dowding, representing the Met Police, said Robinson was contacted by Ms Dearden on January 15 about the pending story as she sought comment on allegations about the way donations had been spent.

“He chose not to exercise his right of reply by simply responding”, he said. “Instead he attended Ms Dearden’s home address, a block of flats, buzzed on the intercom for her specific flat, and engaged in a series of acts.

“He was shouting about Mr Partridge, claiming he was a paedophile, and threatening to come back every day if he needed to.”

Mr Dowding said videos shot by Robinson himself form part of the evidence and a security guard described him “screaming the names of Ms Dearden and Mr Partridge outside the address in an agitated state”.

It is said another person was repeatedly honking the horn of a Range Rover while Robinson is also accused of encouraging his social media followers to find out more personal information about the journalist.

In her evidence, Ms Dearden rejected suggestions she had “trolled” Robinson online or used stories about him to boost her career prospects. She said the activist was contacted in January to give him a fair chance of comment on the story the Independent was planning.

She said publication was ultimately delayed “because of the threats he made towards me and turning up at my house – because of my safety, there was a decision made by my editors in consultation with the police”.

The journalist said an email she received from Robinson after the visit to her home included a “blackmail” threat in it, to make the false allegation against her partner.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram adjourned the hearing until next Thursday when evidence for Robinson is expected to be heard.

The activist is currently subject to a temporary court order which prevents him from contacting Ms Dearden or Mr Partridge – unless he has been contacted over a particular news story - or publishing anything about them online.

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