English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson hired a private investigator to obtain personal details about a journalist whose home he went to unannounced, a court has heard.
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was in court regarding an application for a stalking protection order after he went to the home of Independent home affairs correspondent Lizzie Dearden and her boyfriend, Samuel Partridge.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that Robinson went to Dearden’s home on Sunday January 17 – two days after a request for comment through his solicitors about a story alleging that he misused money donated by his supporters.
Robinson said he felt “sick” and “scared” and “worried” when he saw the allegations being made, and said they were untrue, adding that they came from an unreliable source.
Giving evidence, Robinson said he attempted to contact a solicitor on the Saturday, adding that he “panicked” as he had until the Monday to respond.
“I contacted a private investigator,” he said. “And I asked, and said I’d pay, for information to find Lizzie Dearden.”
Asked why he did this, Robinson responded: “Because the email stated if I didn’t respond by Monday morning they would run with the story.”
Robinson told the court he also contacted his “research group which involves many individuals”, adding that he said “find out what you can, everything you can”.
He said the private investigator came back to him on the Sunday with “lots of information” about Ms Dearden, including her address and information about who she lives with.
Robinson said he is not allowed access to any social media, and so he films himself, and his plan was to film himself giving Ms Dearden “all of the evidence”.
He said his supporters could then share the footage to show there are “two sides”.
Ryan Dowding, representing the Metropolitan Police, put it to Robinson that his intention was to “intimidate” Ms Dearden and prevent her from publishing stories about him more generally.
Robinson, who claims Ms Dearden has written 220 articles about him since 2018, disagreed.
Ms Dearden gave evidence remotely last week and was asked why she did not wish to go to speak to Robinson when he attended her home.
She told the court: “Because I didn’t know what he was going to do, and, from what I could hear on the intercom and through the street, he sounded very angry and agitated.
“Basically, I was too frightened to go down.”
Dowding has previously told the court that during Robinson’s time outside Ms Dearden’s home there was “shouting about Partridge, claiming he was a paedophile”, adding: “There were then threats to come back every day if he needed to.”
On Thursday, Dowding described the allegation about Partridge as “baseless” and “nonsense”, and put it to Robinson that he knew the allegation was “completely unsubstantiated”.
Robinson said the allegation came in a comment from someone in the “research group” who he described as “an unreliable source”.
Deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram agreed to impose an interim order in March ahead of the full application for a stalking protection order.
At the time he said he was satisfied that the temporary order was “necessary and proportionate” because the acts were “capable of being associated with stalking” and there was an “ongoing risk”.
Ikram said he will give his judgment on a future date to be fixed.
The interim order will remain in place until October 13, unless it is revoked before that date.