Why Army is investigating video of Tommy Robinson and soldiers
Crowd of privates cheer far-right former EDL leader in viral clip
The British Army has launched an investigation after far-right activist Tommy Robinson published a photo of himself posing with a large group of smiling soldiers.
The former English Defence League (EDL) leader - whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon - shared the image on Facebook, along with a video of the young privates cheering and shouting his name.
In the accompanying caption, Robinson writes, ”Respect lads”, followed by emojis of a fist and a British flag.
The video footage shows him saying: “Class, eh? Makes it all worth it. An honour.” The clip has received 46,000 “likes” and generated more than 1,400 comments in just two days.
According to The Times, the soldiers, who were wearing camouflage kit, posed with Robinson following a chance meeting at a service station near Watford on Monday.
The Army said it was “investigating the circumstances” surrounding the incident. A spokesperson insisted: “Far-right ideology is completely at odds with the values and ethos of the Armed Forces. The Armed Forces have robust measures in place to ensure those exhibiting extremist views are neither tolerated nor permitted to serve.”
Imam Asim Hafiz, Islamic religious adviser to the Armed Forces, said that “any form of racism, discrimination or extremism is taken extremely seriously and will be dealt with accordingly”.
The Muslim Council of Britain added that Robinson “does not represent our Armed Forces, however much he tries to claim otherwise”.
“He will rile against the very real steps taken to make the military more diverse,” a spokesperson continued. “He will remain silent on the sacrifices Muslims and others made in the two World Wars.
“We welcome the swift statement by the Army in disassociating itself from the Far-right and we hope that safeguards are put in place to ensure that Islamophobia will have no place in our Armed Forces.”
Robinson later posted a Facebook message commenting on the row. “Watch the backlash if the army attempt to discipline these young recruits for expressing the very freedoms they are expected to fight & die for,” he wrote.