Tommy Robinson is facing an investigation by an independent insolvency expert who has been appointed in a bid to recover an estimated £2m the far-right activist owes creditors.
The English Defence League founder, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, declared himself bankrupt last March but anti-racism campaign group HOPE not hate (HNH) believes he has access to assets worth up to an estimated £3m.
Robinson lost a libel case last year after falsely accusing a Syrian refugee schoolboy of attacking a girl and was ordered by a judge to pay £100,000. In addition, he owes an estimated £1.5m in legal costs for the teenager’s lawyers.
Other creditors include HMRC, a former business partner and Barrow-in-Furness borough council, according to HNH. The campaign group is fundraising to pay for the cost of the insolvency expert, Nigel Heath Sinclair, of Richard Long & Co, who was appointed earlier this month to locate funds or assets before March 3 – the date at which Robinson is due to be discharged from bankruptcy.
Before Mr Sinclair was appointed, the case had been handled by the Official Receiver’s office. The insolvency expert has powers to access Robinson’s bank and company records, interview witnesses under oath and apply to court for search and arrest warrants, HNH said.
Robinson lost a libel case last year brought against him by Syrian schoolboy, Jamal Hijazi. In a clip that went viral, Hijazi was filmed being attacked in the playground at a school in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in October 2018.
Robinson subsequently posted Facebook videos viewed by nearly one million people in which he falsely claimed that the schoolboy was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school”. He also claimed the teenager “beat a girl black and blue” and “threatened to stab” another boy at his school, allegations the teenager denies.
Following a four-day trial in April, in a high court judgment in July, Justice Matthew ruled in Jamal’s favour and granted him the six-figure damages sum. Robinson was also ordered to pay legal costs.
Catrin Evans QC, for Jamal, previously said that Robinson’s comments led to the teenager’s “facing death threats and extremist agitation”. During the trial, Ms Evans described Robinson as “a well-known extreme-right advocate” with an “anti-Muslim agenda” who used social media to spread his views.
Nick Lowles, chief executive of HNH, said: “Jamal Hijazi is a victim of Tommy Robinson’s vitriol, and it is important that Robinson is held to account.
“We cannot stand aside and let this hateful far right extremist defraud an innocent victim out of a life-changing sum of money and walk away free to continue to spread his vile ideology with the help of the millions of pounds he claims not to have.
“It is wholly unjust that while his victim’s life has been turned upside down, Tommy Robinson carries on his life as before.
“HNH is putting together a detailed dossier which will assist with revealing the truth as to how and where Tommy Robinson has hidden his assets. To help us ensure that the new investigation has the resources it needs to conduct its work properly and has the means to begin asset recovery, we are asking people to donate to our fundraising campaign.
“Tommy Robinson has to understand that there are real consequences to his hate. It is time to make him pay up and ensure that his victims get proper justice.”
HNH believes Robinson has access to assets worth up to an estimated £3m, gained through property acquisitions, company investments, donations and book sales.
According to HNH, Robinson divorced his wife, Jenna Lennon, in February last year before he declared himself bankrupt. The campaign group says there has been recent building work over the autumn and winter — including creating a gym in an old double garage, as well as a games room above a new garage being built in the garden — at a large detached home owned by her in Bedfordshire. The house was purchased for £705,000 in November 2020 with a mortgage. According to NHN, Robinson has been spotted at the property talking to builders, sometimes with his ex-wife, sometimes alone.
Robinson has been approached for comment.
Robinson was issued with a stalking protection order in October after targeting The Independent home affairs editor, Lizzie Dearden. Robinson is appealing the order.