The wider appeasement drive.
(UKPA) – Prosecutors have dropped claims that Stephen Lennon, the founder of the English Defence League, assaulted a police officer during clashes with Islamic protesters in London.
Lennon, 27, of Layham Drive, Luton, was due to go on trial at West London Magistrates' Court. But the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it had withdrawn the charge after new evidence emerged.
However, a spokesman said Lennon will now face an offence under section four of the Public Order Act, but has yet to be charged. Lennon was arrested by Met Police officers in Kensington, west London, as the nation stopped to mark the anniversary of Armistice Day last year. He was among a group of EDL demonstrators which clashed with a militant Islamist group who burned poppies during the two-minute silence.
One officer suffered a head injury that required hospital treatment during the clashes involving more than 50 people.
,!--more-->Five others associated with his right-wing group were arrested and two Muslim protesters were held on suspicion of public order offences. Members of the Islamist group Muslims Against Crusades have vowed to "expose the enemies of Islam".
Two men, aged 30 and 26, have since been charged with public order offences and are due to go on trial later this year. A hearing was due to take place on Wednesday to formally drop the charge of assaulting a police officer and adjourn the case to a date to be set.
Mr Lennon is also known as Yaxley-Lennon and uses the pseudonym Tommy Robinson. Speaking after the charge of assaulting a police officer was dropped, Mr Lennon claimed more than 1,000 supporters had pledged to picket the court if the case went ahead.
He said the decision was made after EDL members found fresh video footage of the incident. Mr Lennon described the new potential charge as "out of a Christmas cracker" and said he would deny it.
Speaking by telephone from Liverpool Street station, Mr Lennon said he was not due to attend the hearing. He said: "This is a joke, a farce. It completely shows they are trying to pin anything they can on me. I will plead not guilty to the public order. I was trying to prevent a crime of burning poppies. I was trying to do the police's job because they failed to keep the rule of law on the streets of London."
The campaigner said he remains on bail over two separate incidents, one of which took place at an EDL march, in which he is accused of assault and affray. Police were caught out by the decision to drop the charge and adjourn the case. Two vans of around 12 officers had been sent to the court in anticipation of an EDL protest outside.