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Tommy Robinson: Who is the ex-EDL leader born Stephen Yaxley-Lennon?

The EDL founder has had a number of legal run-ins.

With the decline of the English Defence League (EDL) and his other political ventures, far-right activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon faced fading into obscurity.

But his latest jailing won him international attention with backing from the American “alt-right” and support from those close to Donald Trump.

Under the slogan of Free Tommy Robinson, referencing the alias he is widely known by, his supporters campaigned against his jailing for 13 months after being accused of contempt of court.

On Wednesday, the 35-year-old was freed on bail after winning a High Court challenge against the finding.

It is by no means his first legal run-in. Years before he founded EDL in 2009, Robinson was convicted of an assault, reportedly on an off-duty police officer.

The father was also imprisoned in 2013 for using someone else’s passport to travel to the US.

Other convictions include drugs and public order offences and he was jailed in 2014 for 18 months for mortgage fraud.

Having declared in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that “going to prison was the best thing that ever happened to me” after the passport conviction, he strenuously fought the contempt finding.

A son of the US president, Donald Trump Jr, criticised the case in a tweet, while former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders publicly backed Robinson.

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Donald Trump Jr has given his backing to Tommy Robinson (Alec Tabak/The Daily News via AP, Pool)

Mr Bannon, a highly-controversial figure of the American right, hailed him as “the backbone of this country” during a bust-up with an LBC radio reporter.

And, according to reports, a US diplomat lobbied British ambassador to the US Sir Kim Darroch over Robinson’s imprisonment after he filmed people involved in a criminal trial subject to reporting restrictions and broadcast the footage online.

Nearly three months before his jailing in May, Robinson’s online presence received a hefty boost when he shared a video of him punching the face of a man he described as a migrant.

Born in Luton, he found mainstream limelight when he was charged with assaulting a police officer as EDL clashed with Islamist protesters burning poppies. The case was later dropped.

And after the July 7 bombings in London, he blamed “every single Muslim” for “getting away” with the terrorist atrocity, remarks he would later apologise for.

He would also blame EDL for being “part of the problem” and said he did not “hate Muslims” as he exited the group and joined counter-extremism think tank Quilliam.

Robinson then went on to form Pegida UK, an anti-Islam group, but it gained little traction.

Supporters claimed his recent jailing was an affront to freedom of speech, but anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate maintained he is an “extremist and a violent thug” who “nearly derailed” a trial.

Judges quashed the contempt finding from Leeds Crown Court and ordered a fresh hearing at the Old Bailey.

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