Violence breaks out at Tommy Robinson's Sunderland book signing held at off-licence

An 18-year-old man suffered a head injury and was taken to hospital

Maya Oppenheim
Monday 31 July 2017 10:54
Fights break out at Tommy Robinson event in Sunderland

Violence broke out at Tommy Robinson’s book signing at an off-licence in Sunderland leaving one person injured.

Police were called to the former English Defence League leader’s event which was being held at Fletcher’s News & Booze shortly before a Sunderland-Celtic match the same day.

An 18-year-old man at the local corner shop suffered a head injury and was taken to hospital. Police have said they are carrying out enquiries to determine the details of the incident.

Video footage posted on social media showed a flare and other objects being hurled towards the local shop before fighting erupted on the street.

The far-right activist, who was filmed scuffling with a man at Ascot last month, shared a photo of himself wearing a Rangers football shirt inside the off-licence.

Rangers are of course Celtics’ arch rivals and Mr Robinson had criticised and taunted Celtics in a video posted on his Facebook page earlier.

In the four-minute video, the 34-year-old drew attention to the fact Celtic fans show solidarity with the people of Palestine, saying: “Palestine hates you”.

“All these girls who have got their cleavage out and their Celtic tops… take your cleavage, take your Celtic top and walk through Gaza and show me your solidarity,” he added. “Because you won’t have any. You’ll have the biggest shock of your life. So stop hating on me."

Mr Robinson then said he was heading to the shop, which until recently had the words “Don’t fund terrorism shop at Fletcher’s” plastered on its exterior signage, because he thinks the owner is a “good lad”.

More than 20 football fans were arrested in Sunderland after trouble erupted in the city before the match. Police said the majority were not linked to Mr Robinson’s book signing and were related to people being drunk and disorderly, using illegal pyrotechnics and committing a breach of the peace.

Emergency services were called to the shop which is in Hendon, a heavily industrial part of Sunderland with a large concentration of high-rise residential tower blocks, at about 1.40pm.

Assistant Chief Constable Helen McMillan said: "Unfortunately, we did have some incidents of disorder in and around Sunderland between Sunderland and Celtic fans and, while police dealt with them quickly, it is a shame these type of incidents happen at all."

Mr Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, has come under fire in recent weeks for his response to the spate of terror attacks. He sparked fury for attacking the Quran as a “violent and cursed book” just a day after the Finsbury Park terror attack and was condemned for launching into a tirade about Islamic extremism at the scene of the Westminster attack.

The far-right campaigner 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. Mr Robinson is now the UK leader of Pegida which stands for Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West. ​

Sunderland were beaten by Celtic 5-0.

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