Police have warned there will be arrests after two police vehicles were damaged amid a disturbance at a Tommy Robinson campaign event.
Footage posted on social media showed clashes between supporters of the campaigner, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, and counter-demonstrators in Oldham, Greater Manchester, on Saturday afternoon.
Police said eggs and bricks had been thrown during the disorder and that those responsible, many of who are not thought to be from the town, should expect to be dealt with “robustly”.
The force said the incident had been brought to a close, and no-one was seriously injured.
— G M Police (@gmpolice) May 18, 2019
They confirmed that reports circulating earlier in the evening that someone had been stabbed had been verified as false.
A live video posted on Facebook by a group calling itself the Muslim Defence League showed a group of Asian men standing and shouting at the other crowd across the police blockade, with some throwing objects and shouting “racist scum”.
A separate live video shared on YouTube by Danny Tommo, an associate of Robinson, appeared to show the clashes from the other perspective. In the clip, he claims bricks are being thrown at his group.
Chief Superintendent Neil Evans said: “Everyone has the right to free speech and we will always do our best to facilitate this so people can exercise this right in a safe environment.
“This evening, people took advantage of this and turned to violence, throwing objects including eggs and bricks. We understand that many of those involved were not from Oldham.
“Whoever is responsible, this behaviour will not be tolerated by GMP, our partners or the people of Oldham.
“Police officers responded quickly to the disorder and dispersed those involved. Fortunately, no-one was seriously hurt and damage was only caused to vehicles.
“Now the incident has come to a close and people in the area have dispersed, our attention turns to the investigation into the circumstances that surround it.
“Those involved can expect to be arrested and dealt with robustly.”
Robinson was due to make an appearance in Limeside as he campaigns for the European elections, in which he is standing as a candidate for the North West.
Voting in the election takes place on Thursday, while counting starts on Sunday May 26.
It’s horrible to see our town being used for hate and division when our own future is a shared one, long after the circus has left town.
— Jim McMahon MP (@JimfromOldham) May 18, 2019
Jim McMahon, Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton, tweeted about seeing the town used for “hate and division”.
The shadow local government minister wrote: “It’s horrible to see our town being used for hate and division when our own future is a shared one, long after the circus has left town.”
Police have appealed for anyone with information about the disorder to contact them and urged people with footage or images to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officers will remain in the area “for some time” to provide reassurance to local communities, the force said.