English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson has been called a “hate preacher” after the Finsbury Park terror attack, but police have said they will only investigate him if they receive an official complaint alleging he has incited hatred.
Immediately after the attack Mr Robinson caused controversy with tweets saying the mosque had created terrorists – despite it having completely changed since 2004, when the arrest of hook-handed preacher Abu Hamza effectively allowed the Muslim community to take back its mosque.
Mr Robinson insisted he had never incited hatred or violence, claiming all he had ever done was warn about – and try to prevent – the kind of “sectarianism” that might lead to “idiots” attacking the Muslim community because they felt the Government was doing nothing about Islamist extremism.
But after he challenged his opponents to provide evidence of when he had ever incited violence, Mr Robinson’s critics started sharing some recent internet videos that he had posted.
These included one made the day after the Manchester Arena attack, in which he stood outside a mosque in the city, claiming 16 people within a two-mile radius had fought for Isis, and telling his viewers: “In these houses are enemy combatants.”
In another video, Mr Robinson claimed Government “inaction” against extremism would lead to a “disgruntled and angry population cleaning out this Islamic problem”.
Mr Robinson was compared to the Islamist hate preacher Anjem Choudary who was jailed under the Terrorism Act last year for inviting support Isis, after having spent almost 20 years radicalising others while seeking to stay just within the letter of the law.
One twitter user called Choudary and Mr Robinson “two extremists, neither of [whom] commit acts of violence themselves, but feed a narrative to their minions that then carry them out.”
He added that they were: “Both from Luton, both cowards, both brainwashing their idiotic followers.”
But when The Independent contacted Scotland Yard to see if action would be taken, a spokesman said no-one had made a formal complaint to the force about Mr Robinson or his comments.
The spokesman said: “I am not aware that this has been reported to us. If anything is formally reported to us, we will investigate.”
The spokesman added: “Obviously, we are extremely busy at the moment. We are not going through twitter looking at everything he says, unless somebody draws us to a particular point.”
Mr Robinson, 34, who led the English Defence League from 2009 until he left the group in October 2013, has now made a Facebook video in which he seeks to justify himself.
He insisted that he had previously gone on record to say: “If you attack a Muslim, you are a coward. If you attack a mosque, you are a scumbag…You can be angry with the ideology but not against individual people who are innocent.”
Claiming that he was now facing death threats, Mr Robinson insisted he had never justified attacks on Muslims, but had warned they might happen because “people will resort to their own means”.
“I have specifically said I’m not inciting it,” he stated. “I don’t want it to happen.”
He added: “I am just giving you the facts … Facts aren’t hate speech.”
He condemned the incident in which a hired van ploughed into Muslims near Finsbury Park Mosque and the Muslim Welfare House as a “disgusting” attack on “innocent people”.