Tommy Robinson used private investigator to track down journalist

·4-min read
English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson arriving at Westminster Magistrates’ Court (PA) (PA Wire)
English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson arriving at Westminster Magistrates’ Court (PA) (PA Wire)

English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson hired a private investigator to track down the home address of a journalist who was about to run a negative story about him.

The 38-year-old activist - real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon - is facing the possibility of a stalking protection order after an incident in January with The Independent’s home affairs correspondent Lizzie Dearden and her boyfriend Samuel Partridge.

Ms Dearden had contacted Robinson over a story she was planning about use of donations, offering him a right of reply to a series of allegations.

Robinson did not respond to the email at first, but instead went to the reporter’s home address two days later. He is accused of shouting out her name and threatening to return every day until she spoke to him, allegedly to intimidate her out of pursuing the story.

Giving evidence at Westminster magistrates court, Robinson said he hired a private investigator to track down Ms Dearden’s address and reached out to his network of supporters to gather other private information on her.

He told the court he wanted to present Ms Dearden in person with evidence he said undermined the credibility of her source, while videoing the conversation as proof for his supporters.

“I needed to show the public that these are lies”, he said. “I needed to show my children, in detail, me with a journalist, here’s the lies, here’s how it is a lie. Here’s proof.”

Robinson said he “felt sick” when he learned about the pending story, which included an allegation that he had used prostitutes, and said it left him “scared” and “worried”.

“I thought of my children, I knew what they would face, having to go into school where they would be mocked”, he said.

“They face a difficult time anyway in their school because of my politics. I just knew what was coming.”

He said the private investigator provided the journalist’s address, as well as other personal details, and he enlisted the help of a friend to drive to the apartment block on the evening of Sunday, January 17.

“The email stated if I didn’t respond by Monday morning, they would run with the story”, he said. “I’m not allowed access to social media, the only way to get my story across is I video myself. If I could see Lizzie Dearden, I could video myself giving her all the information.”

Videos were played in court of Robinson speaking to security at the block of flats after ringing Ms Dearden’s intercom, while footage shot by a neighbour of shouting and a car horn being pressed repeatedly was also played.

“I wasn’t that sure that was the right number, from the information I had been given”, said Robinson. “I shouted ‘Lizzie’ a couple of times, to see if she could hear.”

Asked why, in a subsequent email, he had threatened to publish an allegation he had got from an unreliable source that Ms Dearden’s partner is a paedophile, he told the court: “It was to point out the total hypocrisy and unfairness of running a story based on unreliable sources.”

Last week, Ms Dearden gave evidence to say she had been too afraid to leave her home to speak to Robinson after hearing him shouting in the street and over the intercom.

Robinson insisted he “never acted in an intimidating or aggressive manner”, and denied “carefully orchestrating” the videos he put forward from the incident.

But in closing submissions, he was accused by Ryan Dowding, representing the Metropolitan Police, of “doxxing” the journalist and her partner as one of the videos he shot outside the apartment block appeared to reveal the address.

Robinson also denied falsely accusing Mr Partridge of being a paedophile in the incident, and denied loudly laughing after failing to speak to the couple.

Deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram said he would deliver his ruling on the order at a later date, setting aside an hour of court time on October 13 if there needs to be further argument.

Robinson is currently subject to an interim stalking protection order, which prevents him from contacting Ms Dearden, talking about her online, or attending properties she is connected with.

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