Tommy Robinson brawl: Witness to Ascot fight rejects claim former EDL leader was defending himself

'Tommy threw the first punch and then when the guy fell to the ground he kept punching,' says Mr Robinson's coach driver

Maya Oppenheim
Tuesday 27 June 2017 13:14
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Tommy Robinson repeatedly punches a man in the head in the car park of Royal Ascot

A witness has rejected Tommy Robinson’s claim he acted in self-defence after he was caught brawling with a man at Royal Ascot.

Asif Idris, who took Mr Robinson to the event in his coach, alleged the former English Defence Leader threw the first punch.

The far-right campaigner was filmed scuffling with a man at the racecourse just after 7 pm on Saturday. At the start of the 15-second clip which appears to have been filmed by a coach’s on-board camera, Mr Robinson can be seen throwing a right hand punch at the unidentified man as he staggers backwards holding his hands up.

Mr Robinson, dressed in a black suit and tie, then grabs his suit jacket and hurls another six punches towards the man’s head. The man swings three punches back at Mr Robinson but none of them connect. He falls over again before three other men intervene to separate the pair.

Mr Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, has now claimed he was acting in self-defence on his Twitter page.

But his coach driver, who says he witnessed the incident, has rejected the suggestion Mr Robinson was merely defending himself. Mr Idris claimed the furore appeared to initially start as a verbal disagreement but was accelerated by Mr Robinson.

He said he initially presumed Mr Robinson and the man were friends but realised they having an argument as they came closer to the coach door.

"I didn't hear what the argument was about but I just heard Tommy saying 'f*** off' three or four times,” he told The Mirror. “Then suddenly he turned to the man and you could see he was getting ready to hit him - he had his fist clenched. That's what caught my eye.

"I thought 'they can't be friends'. Tommy threw the first punch and then when the guy fell to the ground he kept punching.”

Mr Idris claimed the man looked like he was in his mid-twenties and “quite drunk” whereas Mr Robinson looked “pretty sober”.

"It was not self-defence," he said. "His wife was already on the bus. Maybe they [Mr Robinson and the man] were having a disagreement and I can't say if the man had been aggressive to him earlier in the evening, but when they were in front of my coach it was Tommy who started the violence.

"He did not get hit in the back of the head or dragged from the coach. That did not happen."

Mr Idris said he chose not to let Mr Robinson back on the coach after witnessing the incident.

It is not clear from the footage whether Mr Robinson threw the first punch as the pair disappear from view for a good few moments before coming back onto the screen.

But Assed Baig, the Channel Four reporter who first shared the clip on Twitter, said a witness informed him Mr Robinson hurled the first punch.

Mr Robinson responded by saying: "Your eye witness is a Muslim."

Mr Robinson recently sparked fury for attacking the Quran as a “violent and cursed book” just a day after the Finsbury Park terror attack.

The far-right leader announced he was leaving the EDL in 2013 in a joint conference with think tank Quilliam. His departure was widely covered, with the former leader later telling police he would help with their investigations into alleged racists within the extremist group.

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