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The founder of the English Defence League has lost an appeal against his conviction for leading a brawl involving 100 football fans.

Stephen Lennon, 28, led Luton Town supporters as they clashed with Newport County fans in Luton, the town’s crown court heard.

Lennon, from Luton, was convicted in July of using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour in August 2010.

His claim that he was not in the group was dismissed by a High Court judge.

A confrontation began ahead of the evening game on 24 August when Newport supporters made a mass exodus from the Bedfordshire Yeoman pub just as 50 Luton fans approached.

The trouble involved chanting, missiles being thrown, assaults and damage to property, the court heard.

Lennon was at the front of the group, with others looking to him for leadership, and it is alleged he was chanting “E …E…EDL” the court was told.

‘Confusing scene’

Lennon told Mr Justice Saunders: “I was not with the group. There was a lot of shouting and screaming and some fighting but it looked more like ‘handbags’ to me.”

He claimed it had all been about England and Wales and that, while he may have made “sheep” insults, he had never mentioned EDL.

“It is ridiculous to suggest that, it is just not relevant.”

In dismissing the appeal Mr Justice Saunders said: “It must have been a very confusing scene and we are not making any detailed finding on exactly what happened and whether he was the leader of the group or not.

“We are not saying whether he was shouting about the EDL but on his own admission he was shouting something which was intended to be insulting to the Welsh and he was waving his arms about.

“It is impossible to accept any other intention than to provoke them into fighting.

“It must have been a frightening scene for anyone to observe.”

Luton magistrates had sentenced Lennon to a 12-month community rehabilitation order, a three-year ban from football and ordered him to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Lennon is due to be sentenced in November for an assault on an EDL member at Blackburn, Lancashire, in April.

BBC News

AN anti-paedophile campaigner has been jailed for throwing punches and kicks in a violent clash between football supporters in the city centre.

Christopher Wittwer was one of seven men sentenced at Exeter Crown Court yesterday after the group of hooligans went after Huddersfield Town supporters in May last year.

Wittwer, who set up a controversial anti-paedophile website naming convicted child sex offenders last summer, was jailed for 10 months.

Violence flared while the High Street was full of shoppers, including parents who had to shield their toddler in a push chair.

Wittwer, 35, of Oakmead, Aylesbeare; Darren Bolt, 24, of Salisbury Road, Exmouth; Neil Vooght, 35, of Hazelwood Park, Dawlish, and Neil Cartwright, 37, of Lapwing Close, Cullompton, all admitted affray.

Bolt, Vooght and Cartwright were also jailed for 10 months but the term was suspended for two years.

They were ordered to carry out 220 hours of unpaid work each.

Brendan Daniel, 24, of Leypark Road, Exeter; Mark Langdon, 20, of Austin Close, Exeter, and Joseph Foxworthy, 25, of Old Vicarage Road, Exeter, admitted public order offences. They were due to be given community orders with unpaid work.

Prosecutor Richard Crabb told the court the group were “looking for a violent confrontation” on May 8, last year, the day of a home game between Exeter City and Huddersfield Town.

He said a group of Huddersfield fans had been having a “quiet drink” in The Ship Inn, but most had left.

At 2pm, a group of 25 Exeter supporters gathered outside the pub shouting and swearing.

Some went inside but on realising the rivals had left walked up the High Street where they found a group of four Huddersfield fans.

Wittwer and Vooght were aiming punches and kicks at the rivals. They also chased them down the road. Bolt was seen throwing punches and Cartwright kicking out.

Mr Crabb said: “Members of the public were moving out of the way and some were protecting a toddler in a push chair.”

When police arrived the group fled but these defendants were identified.

Mr Crabb said the violence was “nipped in the bud by the prompt arrival of police” but had the potential to be much worse. The incident was clearly caught on CCTV.

Wittwer previously received a banning order for three years for threatening an Aldershot Town supporter in Sidwell Street, in 2004. He breached the order twice and was also convicted of an affray in a nightclub, in 2007.

The court was told that Vooght, Bolt and Daniel had no previous convictions.

Cartwright and Foxworthy both have two dissimilar previous convictions and Langdon has two public order offences on his record, from 2009.

Stephen Nunn, mitigating for Wittwer, said he admitted his guilt straight away and wanted to be sentenced back in February. He told the court that Wittwer, who has an ex-wife and child who live abroad, rarely goes out now and has not offended since the incident.

He conceded that he “had the disadvantage of having two things on his record that put him in a difficult situation.”

Mitigating for Vooght, Nigel Wraith said the offence was “completely out of character”.

For Bolt, Cartwright, Daniel, Foxworthy and Langdon, Kevin Hopper said they should get credit for their guilty pleas.

Judge Phillip Wassall told Wittwer he had a “dreadful record for football-related violence.”

They were all given football banning orders preventing them from attending games for six years.

This is Plymouth

An English Defence League (EDL) member has been jailed for nine months after taking part in a pre-arranged brawl between football supporters in London.

Joel Titus, 19, took part in the “pitched battle” between supporters of Brentford and Leyton Orient outside Liverpool Street station in May 2010.

Titus, of Pinner, north-west London, and five other men admitted affray.

The brawl, during which people punched, kicked and threw bottles, was by “prior arrangement”, the Old Bailey heard.

Dean Wells, 22, of Isleworth, west London, was jailed for 12 months, David Mitchell, 19, of Littlehampton, West Sussex, was sentenced to seven months and Andrew Hudson, 26, of Hornchurch, Essex, was given an eight-month jail term.

Steven Donovan, 20, of Hayes, west London, and Thomas Armstrong, 24, of Woodford Green, Essex, were each given suspended six-month sentences.

‘Frightening spectacle’

Judge Timothy Pontius said all six had taken part in a “disgraceful display of violence” that terrified ordinary people using a busy railway station as bottles were thrown across the street during the fight.

The “pitched battle” must have been a “frightening spectacle”, he said, which required a “firm deterrent message”.

Titus, an A-level student, has previously been convicted of threatening behaviour for swearing at a police officer who was trying to break up a fight. He will be sentenced in May.

The incident took place while he was on bail following the football brawl, the Old Bailey heard.

He also has a previous caution for battery after hitting a journalist during a right-wing demonstration in December 2009.

The teenager is a prominent member of the EDL and has been interviewed on the BBC’s Newsnight programme speaking as the leader of the organisation’s youth division.

Henrietta Paget, for the prosecution, said Brentford-supporting hooligans had travelled to the scene after a game against Hartlepool, to meet rival Leyton Orient supporters, who were on their way back from a match at Colchester in Essex.

The court heard Hudson told police that there was “history” between the clubs dating back to the 1980s.

Titus said he went to the scene after hearing some commotion, but denied any knowledge of the brawl being prearranged.

All six were given football banning orders.

BBC News

Abdul Rafiq

A Muslim Rangers supporter who chanted sectarian remarks at a game at Ibrox Stadium has been fined £600.

Abdul Rafiq, 41, the only Muslim member of the English Defence League, was arrested at Rangers friendly game with Chelsea on 6 August.

At Glasgow Sheriff Court he pleaded guilty to religiously aggravated breach of the peace by shouting, swearing and uttering sectarian remarks.

Sheriff John McCormick also imposed a five year football banning order.

The court heard that Rafiq, from Kelvinbridge, Glasgow, was heard shouting phrases which hit out at Catholics and the Pope.

‘Sectarian phrases’

Fiscal depute Seana Doherty, prosecuting said: “The accused was standing in the Govan front stand wearing a flag around his shoulders bearing the Red Hand of Ulster logo.

“He was wearing an umbrella stand hat which was red white and blue and also had the Red Hand of Ulster logo on it, and carrying a blue Rangers backpack.

“He was seen by three police officers to stand up from the seat and chant sectarian phrases.”

The court was told Rafiq was warned by the officers to stop but continued and was arrested.

Defence lawyer Ashley Kane told the court: “Mr Rafiq is a member of the English Defence League, as a result of his membership to this and him being the only Muslim member of the organisation he does stand out.”

She said that he has been a Rangers fan for the majority of his life and has attended matches and sung songs.

Ms Kane added: “At the time of the offence he didn’t believe that his actions were offending anyone.”

She also said that if he had known he was offending anybody he would not have acted in that way.

BBC News

A football hooligan who performed a Nazi salute and unveiled an English Defence League flag has been banned from football matches.

Lincoln City supporter Peter Briggs, 19, was associated with several violent flare-ups at football matches between 2009 and February this year.

He appeared at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, April 5, where Lincolnshire Police applied for a civil banning order against him.

The court heard Briggs was involved in clashes at Grimsby Town, Notts County and in Lincoln High Street when on July 24, 2010, the Imps played Celtic. Five people were taken to hospital and 27 people arrested.

During a match against Stockport on January 22 last year, bottles, glasses and chairs were used in a pub when the rival clubs clashed.

Lincolnshire Police solicitor Daniel Richardson told the court: “Briggs unveiled a flag with Lincoln City Youth, EDL, No Surrender, printed on it.

“On May 7 last year Lincoln City lost to Aldershot, relegating the Imps from the Football League. People invaded the pitch and Briggs was one of those.”

The court heard that some of Briggs’s close associates were arrested following disorder at a game at Alfreton, where a security fence was torn down.

Mr Richardson went on to describe various exhibits, including CCTV and pictures of Briggs with the ‘Lincoln risk group’ with people performing a Nazi salute.

Briggs, of Bentley Drive, Bracebridge Heath, Lincoln, who was not represented by a solicitor, did not seek to contest the evidence.

Magistrates banned him from attending any football ground or any regulated UK matches in the UK for three years.

Briggs will also have to surrender his passport so he cannot go to any games being played outside the UK.

He cannot be in the Sincil Bank area during the two hours before and after any games. He cannot be within a five-mile radius of any England games.

If Lincoln are playing away, Briggs cannot use trains without permission from the British Transport Police.

Once two thirds of the order is completed, Briggs can apply to the court to consider shortening it.

It is usual to ban someone from football games in criminal proceedings.

But after the disorder of the European Championships in 2000, changes were made allowing police to apply for civil banning orders.

They can be applied to anyone who has caused, or been involved in violence at football matches in the UK or any other country.

It is seen as a preventative measure and police in Lincoln say it is working.

Football intelligence officer Andy Pearson said after the hearing: “We haven’t done our end of season statistics yet but we’ve been doing this operation for two years now and last season we reduced disorder by 58 per cent both at home and away.”

This is Lincolnshire