UKIP leader defends 'incredibly brave' Tommy Robinson during Lowestoft fishing meeting
PUBLISHED: 16:55 31 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:07 31 October 2018
The leader of UKIP told of his personal desire for Tommy Robinson to join the party and described him as an "incredibly brave man" during a meeting in Lowestoft.
Gerard Batten joined UKIP deputy leader and fisheries spokesman Mike Hookem and a host of fishing experts at The Hotel Victoria on Tuesday night.
The meeting was organised to discuss the future of east coast fishing post-Brexit.
However visitors were greeted by Stand Up To Racism protesters objecting the UKIP leader’s association with the English Defence League (EDL) founder.
In May Mr Robinson was jailed for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds Crown Court.
During the video he made comments which risked causing the collapse of a trial. He was freed in August following ‘procedural deficiencies’ in the original hearing.
Mary Littlefield, who organised the protest, said: “We wanted to make people know we are here and we aren’t going to put up with it - we don’t want an atmosphere of hate.”
Mr Batten was later asked if he felt his support of Mr Robinson was having a detrimental impact on the growth of the party. Mr Batten said he did not believe this was the case and said the protestors just wanted an excuse to rally.
Speaking of Mr Robinson’s jailing for contempt of court the UKIP leader said: “He spent four months in prison for something no one has gone to prison for, for the last 60 years.
“He did four months in solitary confinement because they put him in a prison with a large proportion of Muslims who were preparing the food - who told him they were going to kill him.
“So he couldn’t eat the food, he lost three stone in weight.”
Mr Batten added: “You tell me he hasn’t been persecuted by the state? Of course he has.
“He’s not a criminal. He may have criminal convictions, that’s not to say he is guilty.”
While members of the EDL are forbidden from joining UKIP Mr Batten believes an exception should be made in the case of Mr Robinson.
“I am totally unrepentant about my support for Mr Robinson. I think we should allow Tommy to join - he is an incredibly brave man.”