Tommy Robinson supporter admits verbally abusing female journalist he said was ‘Muslim-backed’

Restaurant owner William Eve denies abuse was religiously aggravated 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Thursday 10 January 2019 17:13
The incident happened at a pro-Tommy Robinson protest in London on 14 July
The incident happened at a pro-Tommy Robinson protest in London on 14 July

A Tommy Robinson supporter has admitted to verbally abusing a journalist at a protest and accusing her of being "Muslim-backed".

William Eve, a restaurant owner from north-east London, was caught on camera insulting a female reporter and demanding to know whether she was “with or against” the English Defence League (EDL) founder.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard the 57-year-old shouted at Al Jazeera’s Sonia Gallego during a “Free Tommy” protest that merged with a pro-Donald Trump rally in July.

Prosecutor Robert Simpson said: “The complainant is someone who is a reporter for Al Jazeera. She was conducting interviews and recording them.

“She was approached by the defendant, asked who she was, he found out and made the comment 'so you're Muslim-backed'. He went on to say she was stupid and call her a slag.”

Eve was filmed demanding to know who Ms Gallego worked for and asking: “Are you with Tommy Robinson or against him?”

The journalist said she was not taking any sides in her reporting but Eve accused her of being “Muslim-backed” and called her “f***ing stupid” when she asked what he meant.

Mr Simpson said he also “jabbed a finger towards” Ms Gallego, who recorded the incident in central London.

Eve, of Adnams walk in Rainham, admitted one count of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress on 14 July.

But he pleaded not guilty to a second count alleging that the harassment was religiously aggravated and is due to go on trial next month.

Deputy district judge Jim Astle released Eve on bail until his trial at City of London Magistrates' Court on 21 February.

Eve made no comment as he left the court, with a hat pulled over his face.

Police said Robinson supporters at the rally physically attacked officers and hurled racial abuse, while a group also blocked a bus driven by a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf.

Protesters chant 'We want Tommy out' as they block path of bus in London

Ukip leader Gerard Batten, who has since hired Robinson as an adviser, and anti-Islam politicians from the US, Sweden and Belgium spoke at the event.

It was one of several protests held over the imprisonment of Robinson, who was jailed for allegedly committing contempt of court at a grooming gang trial in May.

The anti-Islam activist, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was released in April after the Court of Appeal overturned the findings because of procedural failings.

Judges ordered a rehearing and the case has been referred to the attorney general for consideration on how it will proceed.

Additional reporting by PA

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