Tommy Robinson's far-right demonstration in Telford met by counter protest

Far-right demonstrators from across Britain descended on Telford - to be met by an anti-racism counter protest.

Tommy Robinson speaks to the crowd
Tommy Robinson speaks to the crowd

Police made a human wall on the road in the town centre to separate the two demonstrations after lining the route of the far-right march from Telford Railway Station.

Activist Tommy Robinson led the march, he said to "stand with survivors of grooming gangs".

Counter protestors said he was bringing hatred and division to the town.

Robinson addressed at least 1,000 of his followers in the town centre Blue Willow car park before showing a documentary about child sexual exploitation on a big screen.

Protesters watch Tommy Robinson's documentary
Tommy Robinson supporters on the march
A protester dressed as a policeman makes his point

The "premiere" of the video came two years after he was jailed for contempt of court when he breached a reporting ban by filming men accused of the sexual exploitation and live-streaming the footage on Facebook.

Robinson told the crowd there was a time he didn't think he would be allowed to make his speech.

"We are here to protect the vulnerable in society," he said.

The anti-racism protest
Anti-racism protest in Telford

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was the founder of the English Defence League.

He has claimed that his car was blown up in a petrol bomb attack outside the Whitehouse Hotel in Wellington at the beginning of the year.

His followers arrived in Telford, many on trains, from as far afield as Southampton and the Manchester area. They included one of the founders of Ukip, Gerard Batten, who refused to comment on the demonstration, and Anne Marie Waters, leader of the extreme party For Britain, who told those assembled at the railway station that she wanted to become an MP.

Tommy Robinson supporters
Protesters watch Tommy Robinson's documentary
The Tommy Robinson march leaves Telford Railway Station
Tommy Robinson leads the protest march

The major police operation saw West Mercia officers joined by those from Staffordshire and British Transport Police, with at least 100 on the streets of the town centre.

The counter protest was organised by Stand Up to Racism Telford and Shropshire and Telford Trades Union Council. It was held on the opposite side of the road, on a strip of land next to the Asda supermarket.

Among those taking part were Dr Louise Raw, an historian and anti-facist.

The anti-racism protest

She said on social media that that anti-racism demonstration had been a great united protest and revealed that she had not been allowed to cross the barrier between the two groups to talk to Robinson.

Organisers of both demonstrations had been issued with police orders ensuring they did not move out of the area allocated for the protests.

David Lawrence from the Shropshire and Telford Trades Union Council said: "We are here in a peaceful demonstration to tell people that we reject the words of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon and stop the division of our communities.

"His hypocrisy is absolutely stunning," he said.

Another anti-racism protestor said he had lived in Telford since the 1970s and loved that is was a multi-cultural society.

"We don't want Tommy Robinson here bringing hatred and divide," he said.

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