Revealed: Ex-wife of bankrupt Tommy Robinson ‘started company to raise money for far-right activist’
The ex-wife of bankrupt far-right activist Tommy Robinson has set up a business with the apparent aim of helping raise money for her former husband, The Independent understand.
Robinson’s account on the encrypted messaging service Telegram has in recent weeks posted links to a “Square FT” donations website that claims to support “independent independent journalists”. Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, appealed to subscribers for ‘security fees’ via the website for what he billed for an ‘investigation’ of ‘grooming grooms’.
He also promoted Square FT’s fundraising page on his account on GETTR, a self-proclaimed “free speech” social media platform founded by a former aide to Donald Trump, where he has more than 160 000 subscribers.
A Companies House file discovered by The Independent shows that Robinson’s ex-wife, Jenna Lennon, is the sole director of Square FT Ltd, which appears to be linked to the funding website. The Square FT website and company were both established in August last year. There is no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Ms. Lennon or Square FT. Robinson is entitled to receive funds while in bankruptcy, but they must be reported.
The founder of the English Defense League – a convicted fraudster who has tried to reinvent himself in recent years as a journalist – is believed to owe his creditors £2million, much of it linked to a libel case which he lost last year after falsely accusing a Syrian refugee schoolboy of attacking a girl. Anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate (HNH) believe Robinson has access to assets worth an estimated £3million. Robinson filed for bankruptcy in March, a month after his divorce from Ms Lennon, according to HNH.
Bankrupt people are not allowed to be directors of a limited liability company – or, according to Mark Sands, chairman of the personal insolvency committee of commercial insolvency and restructuring organization R3, acting as a “ghost admin”, which means they perform the same role in all but name. Failure to comply with the terms of bankruptcy in this way would be a prosecutable offence, he said.
The Independent saw no evidence to suggest Robinson acts as a shadow director of Square FT, or did not report income.
On December 22, Robinson posted a video to his Telegram channel – where he has more than 155,000 subscribers – in which he said he was having dinner at his ex-wife’s house, joking that she was “lucky” that he had already divorced her when she ran out of ketchup. In the clip, he encouraged followers to download GETTR and follow him. An accompanying message included a link to the Square FT page, adding: “If you want to help me help a grooming victim so they can move to a safe area, please CLICK HERE to donate!!! “
Square FT’s website page makes no mention of Robinson, but one page invites browsers to donate between £5 and £100. Under the heading ‘Relocating a victim of grooming from Telford’ it says: ‘Giving us power gives you power!!! Please consider contributing so we can continue to support those on a mission to build a better world.
Square FT’s homepage, which also omits any reference to Robinson, reads under an image showing silhouettes of people silhouetted against city skyline: “Become the best freelancer you can be – break the shackles of corporate journalism .”
Below it reads: “At Square FT, we provide solutions for freelance and freelance journalists. We will work with you to help with crowdfunding, campaigning, collaboration and networking to achieve your goal. As a freelance freelance journalist, you can place your audience in a position of power, where you cover topics that interest them, topics that may be overlooked by mainstream media due to publicity/sponsorship disputes, etc.
“Crowdfunding journalists strongly believe in the journalistic standard of self-reliance, so raising your profile and earning the trust and support of those who want to watch or read stories that are shunned by the mainstream, so Square FT is the best place to start your journey of independence and free thinking. Break the shackles of “corporate journalism” and deliver something fresh, original, and cover stories that stuffy corporate bosses tend to avoid. Welcome to the whole new world of freelance journalism.
Companies House records show Square FT Ltd was incorporated in August, with Ms Lennon as sole director. The company’s business activity is described as “Other information services activities not elsewhere classified”. It’s unclear how much money, if any, was donated through Square FT’s website and details of who registered the website have not been made public.
In another Telegram post on January 3, Robinson’s account was linked to another page on Square FT’s website, writing, “Please help us with security. Donate by CLICKING HERE!!!! I need your help. My team is going to have to cover more security costs after this attack on my car, the survivors’ house, and a local woman.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the members of the grooming gangs in Telford are scared, they are like a wounded animal, they are ready to lash out at any moment and do ANYTHING to silence and intimidate those of us who shed light on RAPE The Jihad that has been going on in this city for forty years.
The link directs users to a page on Square FT inviting donations under the title: “Security costs to investigate Telford grooming gang”.
On January 10, a link to the website was again posted from Robinson’s Telegram account, with the message: “Remember to support our work, we can’t do it without you.”
Robinson was due to unveil a video Saturday afternoon featuring what he claims is an investigation into grooming gangs in Telford, Shropshire, titled ‘Rape of Britain’. A march is also planned in the city.
As recently as this month, Robinson’s GETTR profile included a link to Square FT’s fundraising page – including the post urging people to support ‘my investigation into the Telford grooming gangs’ – but the link has since been deleted.
Earlier this month, insolvency practitioners Nigel Heath Sinclair and Christine Bartlett, of Richard Long & Co, were named co-administrators in Robinson’s bankruptcy. They are investigating assets and potential assets held by Robinson, who is due to be released from bankruptcy in March. In a statement, Richard Long & Co said: “Trustees are constrained by data protection law and their professional obligations and as such cannot give any information regarding creditors to third parties and currently cannot comment on their investigations, which are at an early stage. The investigations will not conclude following the bankrupt’s statutory discharge which is currently scheduled for March 2, 2022.”
Being bankrupt does not prevent a person from earning a living, Mr. Sands said, but they must disclose all of their income to a trustee. “[The bankrupt individual] is then entitled to retain a sufficient portion of that income for the reasonable domestic needs of him and his family,” he said. “A trustee is then entitled to ask to receive any income in excess of these needs.
“If the trustee and the bankrupt cannot agree on the level of these needs, the bankruptcy court may be asked to determine this figure.
“Once a bankrupt is discharged, normally after 12 months, he is entitled to keep all his earnings. However, if it is shown that he has excess income before his discharge and the trustee asks him to return this excess income, or if the bankruptcy court orders it, the trustee can then ask the bankrupt to pay his surplus income for three years from the time they agree there is a surplus. Therefore, a bankrupt has an incentive to keep his income below his needs until the end of the year and he is discharged from bankruptcy and the trustee will want to ensure that there is no hidden income.
He added: ‘If someone campaigning wanted to ask for donations, donations for living, the donations should be reported to the trustee in bankruptcy because in my view it is actually income. However, if the donations allow them to print leaflets and get on a train to appear and use that money for campaigning, then in fact it is not their money. This is something that bankruptcy would not prevent you from doing.
Robinson, who did not respond to a request for comment before publication, was jailed for 18 months in 2014 for mortgage fraud. Following the libel case he lost last year, he was ordered by a judge to pay £100,000. In addition, he owes around £1.5million in legal fees for the teenager’s lawyers.
Other creditors include HMRC, a former business partner and Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council, according to Hope Not Hate. The campaign group is raising money to pay the cost of Richard Long & Co’s role in the bankruptcy case. Before Sinclair and Bartlett were named earlier this month, the matter had been handled by the Office of the Official Receiver.
HNH Chief Executive Nick Lowles said: “Since 2017, Tommy Robinson has attempted to reinvent himself from street activist and street agitator to…journalist. Now, of course, he remains a street activist and street agitator as seen this weekend in Telford. His behavior as he approached Telford and while holding the event in Telford was not that of a normal journalist.
Robinson received a harassment protection order in October after targeting The Independents home affairs editor, Lizzie Dearden.