EDL leader jailed over passport
Published 07/01/2013 | 12:32
The leader of the English Defence League has been jailed for 10 months after admitting using someone else's passport to travel to the United States.
Stephen Lennon, 30, pleaded guilty to possession of a false identity document with improper intention, contrary to the Identity Documents Act 2010, at Southwark Crown Court.
Lennon used a passport in the name of Andrew McMaster to board a Virgin Atlantic Flight from Heathrow to New York, but was caught out after his fingerprints were taken by customs officials. He left the airport and entered the US illegally but left the country the following day, using his own passport to return to the UK.
The court heard that Lennon, who had previously been refused entry to the US, used his friend's passport to travel to the country in September.
He used a self check-in kiosk to board the Virgin Atlantic flight at Heathrow, and was allowed through when the document was checked in the bag drop area. But when he arrived at New York's JFK Airport, customs officials who took his fingerprints realised he was not Mr McMaster.
Lennon was asked to attend a second interview but left the airport, entering the US illegally. He stayed just one night and travelled back to the UK the following day using his own legitimate passport - which bears the name Paul Harris.
The court heard that is the name that appears on the EDL leader's passport, although he uses aliases.
Lennon, who was arrested in October, was jailed for 10 months, minus the days he has already served in custody. The court heard that he was previously jailed for assault in 2005 and also has previous convictions for drugs offences and public order offences.
Sentencing the 30-year-old, Judge Alistair McCreath, told him: "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...
"What you did went absolutely to the heart of the immigration controls that the United States are entitled to have. Had it been known in this country that you were proposing to leave under a false passport, you would not have been accepted on to the plane and you would not have been permitted to leave this country on a false passport. It's not in any sense trivial."