08 January 2013

EDL leader jailed for US immigration offence

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Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, founder and leader of the far-right organisation the English Defence League, has been jailed for attempting to enter the US using another's passport.

US visa

The EDL, founded by Stephen Lennon is one of the most controversial, far-right organisations in the world.

Lennon, who also uses the aliases Paul Harris and Tommy Robinson, used a friend's passport bearing the name Andrew McMaster to board a Virgin Atlantic Flight from London to New York in September. While he managed to board the flight by using an automatic check in, he was apprehended by US immigration officials when his fingerprints were taken.

The EDL leader was told to attend a second interview but managed to leave the airport and enter the US illegally, he then used his own passport - with the name Paul Harris - to return to the UK the following day.

Lennon was convicted of possession of a false identity document with improper intention at Southwark Crown Court yesterday and sentenced to 10 months imprisonment.

The EDL leader had previously been banned from the US for his association with the controversial organisation and previous convictions; a factor which influenced Judge Alistair McCreath's opinion.

"I am going to sentence you under the name of Stephen Lennon, although I suspect that is not actually your true name, in the sense that it is not the name that appears on your passport," Judge McCreath told Lennon.

"What I have to deal with you for is clear enough. You knew perfectly well you were not welcome in the United States.

"You knew that because you tried before and you had not got in, and you knew the reason for that - because, rightly or wrongly, the US authorities do not welcome people in their country with the convictions of the kind that you have."

The judge said Lennon had used his own passport to leave the country 'to avoid the consequences that would have fallen upon you had you been caught by the authorities in America'.


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