A police officer today denied deliberately targeting EDL founder Tommy Robinson because of his views when he was ordered out of a pub while watching a football match.
Robinson, 36, is suing Cambridgeshire Police claiming that he was ‘harassed’ and ‘humiliated’ when he was ordered out of the pub with other football supporters.
The right-wing activist was at the Grain and Hop Store with his children in Cambridge, Cambs., on August 27, 2016 before being removed by police, a court heard.
Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was watching the Luton Town FC away game against Cambridge United until he claims he was forced out by police.
The Luton FC fan claims officers picked him out “because of my beliefs” and that he had not been part of a group of football fans in the pub.
However an officer today insisted it was because he had been identified as being part of a group of ‘risk’ football fans in the pub.
Today the court watched the footage of the incident filmed by both Mr Robinson using his mobile phone and by Sergeant Paul Street using his bodycam.
Sgt Street told the court he had limited knowledge of Tommy Robinson prior to the incident and believed he was “an 80s football hooligan”.
The court heard that the officer entered the pub after a Bedfordshire football spotter, a police officer who follows football crowds and feeds back intelligence on supporters most likely to cause trouble, identified a group of risk supporters.
Sgt Street said there had been an agreement that the risk supporters would be told to leave by 6.30pm.
The Cambs police officer, who has been a PSU (Police Support Unit) officer for 12 years and a sergeant for nine years, said the risk supporters had been asked to finish their drinks and leave by half 6.
Sgt Street said it was while he was speaking with the group that Mr Robinson’s behaviour escalated and he made the decision to issue a section 35 - a dispersal order.
He said: “I spoke to the group - he [Tommy] made himself spokesperson for the group.”
Mr Robinson’s lawyer, Alison Gurden, told the court that Tommy said in his evidence that he was drinking water and was with his three children at the time of the incident.
Sgt Street said Tommy “smelled of alcohol and was becoming irate” making it impossible to have a “reasonable conversation”.
Ms Gurden said that Tommy was with his three children, who appear at the end of the footage shown in court, but Sgt Street said he was sitting upstairs without them when he saw the group.
Sgt Street added: “There is absolutely no reason for me to lie. You would not believe the amount of abuse that I have had.”
Mr Robinson posted the video of the incident on Facebook shortly after the incident took place.
He told the court on Monday: “There were other Luton Town fans in the pub. I feel I was approached and targeted by police because of my beliefs . I felt that I was just ejected from the city.”
Today the lawyer for the police force, Adam Clemens, also called PC Ruddy to the witness box, who filmed as the group walked away from the pub.
He told the court that the footage was deleted within 28 days of the incident as he did not believe it contained any evidential value.
PC Ruddy also said that from what he saw Tommy was “arguing and having an incoherent argument with PC Street”.
The trial started yesterday in Peterborough County Court, and is scheduled to run until March 15.
The court heard Mr Robinson was about to be given a section 35 dispersal order by the police - which meant he had to leave the city - when he left the pub.
He had been due to be given one after being identified as being part of a group of ‘risk’ football supporters.
Risk supporters are often identified by police as fans who are likely to be violent or cause damage.
However, Mr Robinson, who claims he was not drinking alcohol that day, says that he was not part of this group and was at the pub with his three children.
He also claims that when he did leave the pub he was followed by police officers which he claimed terrified his children.
The lawyer for the police force, Adam Clemens, disputed this saying there was no footage of the incident and Robinson hadn’t mentioned it before that day.
Tommy claims that the police were recording the incident but have since deleted the footage.
Before proceedings started, Her Honour Judge Karen Walden-Smith, who is presiding, explained her decision to stop members of the public from sitting in the front row.
HHJ Walden-Smith also went on to address Ezra Levant, a journalist from The Rebel Media, which also employs Tommy Robinson, who was live tweeting in court yesterday.
She said the tweets contained “perjorative, inaccurate and inflammatory language” and told Mr Levant this cannot continue in order to avoid intimidating witnesses.