Local Charity Signs Pledge to Reject Funding from Tommy Robinson

Placards at the Say No to Tommy Robinson march and rally in London on Sunday 9th December 2018. Garry Knight via Wikimedia Commons.

The CEO of Portsmouth-based charity Aurora New Dawn has signed an open letter from academics, activists and charities working to end sexual abuse, rejecting funding offered by Tommy Robinson as part of his European Election campaign. Sarah Cheverton reports. 

Founder of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon), is currently campaigning to become an independent MEP for the north-west and recently announced that if elected, he would not keep his earnings (a reported monthly salary of ‘about £7,500 before tax’). Instead, he pledged in a YouTube video on 25th April to donate his salary to child victims of sexual grooming.

Youtube recently placed restrictions on Tommy Robinson’s channel, including preventing him from broadcasting live and from appearing in the platform’s recommendations lists.

However, members of the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition published an open letter rejecting funding from Robinson and accusing him of ‘exploiting the pain of survivors and their families to fuel racist hate for his own gain.’

Portsmouth-based charity Aurora New Dawn, which works with victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse and stalking, was one of more than 40 charities and women to sign the letter, alongside Women’s Aid, the Women and Girls Network and Rape Crisis South London, Surrey and Sussex.

Aurora New Dawn founder and CEO Shonagh Dillon told S&C, ‘As a member of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, when they wrote to me to ask if we would be signatories on this letter I didn’t hesitate to add my name.

‘The violence against women’s sector has been hit hard by the austerity agenda nationally but even with those devastating cuts, I have no qualms in rejecting potential monies from a far right extremist who is no ally to women and girls.’

The open letter can be read in full below, including a full list of signatories.


Dear Media Editors, Community Leaders, MPs, Activists, Friends,

‘Tommy Robinson’, a man convicted of assault, rioting and fraud, a thug with a long history of making racist statements, has made a career out of causing trouble and division. He is now standing as an MEP candidate in the North West.

Tommy Robinson has made claims that, if elected, he will offer his salary to the child victims of what he terms ‘Muslim rape gangs’. We, as organisations and individuals fighting tirelessly against the abuse of women and girls, as survivors of abuse and their families, and as people who care about our communities, do not want your money, Tommy.

We are calling on the people of the North West to reject Tommy Robinson’s hatred, to register to vote, and to turn out against him in the upcoming European Elections. He has no place as our elected representative.

Those who have suffered sexual and physical abuse were failed by those who should have protected them. But Tommy Robinson is no ally for the children he claims to stand up for. Tommy doesn’t care about the rights of women and girls – he is exploiting the pain of survivors and their families to fuel racist hate for his own gain. He is a misogynist and has recklessly put victims at risk for his own moment of media spotlight.

Tommy Robinson’s factually incorrect messages about ‘grooming’, and his attempt to portray himself as a champion of the cause, are an insult to survivors of abuse.

They are also a profound insult to the women who have spent their whole lives building support services for survivors and working to ensure some cases finally got to court. Where were you during that work Tommy Robinson? The far right were never any part of this work.

We do not want a convicted thug and racist who does not truly care about abuse survivors on our ballot papers and we reject you Tommy Robinson.

In solidarity,


Sarah Green & Rachel Krys, Co-Directors, End Violence Against Women Coalition

Gurpreet Virdee, Co-Director, Women and Girls Network

Stella Dadzie, British Educationalist, activist, written and historian

Shonagh Dillon, Founder and CEOAurora New Dawn

Pragna Patel, Director, Southall Black Sisters

Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director, The Women’s Budget Group

Maggie Parks OBE, Chief Executive, The Women’s Centre Cornwall

Diana Nammi, Executive Director, Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation

Amna Abdul- Children and Young People’s Lead, National Women’s Aid

Women’s March London

Akeela Ahmed MBE, founder, She Speaks We Hear

Aisha Ali-Khan, founder, Women United

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Lawyer and founder, Women in Leadership publication

Rachel Krengel, Intersectional Feminist Activist

Carys Afoko, founder, Level Up

Harriet Wistrich, Director, Centre for Women’s Justice

Marai Larasi MBE, Executive Director, Imkaan

Baljit Banga, Director, London Black Women’s Project

Christine McNaught, CEO, FWT Centre for women

Naana Otoo-Oyortey, Executive Director, FORWARD

Yvonne Traynor, CEO, Rape Crisis South London / Surrey & Sussex

Dr Miranda Horvath, Middlesex University.

Natasha Walter, Feminist Activist and Author – Living Dolls

Gemma Snowball, DHR & Team Development Manager, Standing Together Against Domestic Violence

Rebecca Vagi, Housing Manager, Standing Together Against Domestic Violence

Miranda Pio, Programme Manager and Policy Lead, Standing Together Against Domestic Violence

Professor Aisha K. Gill, Professor of Criminology & Co-Chair of EVAW

Aisha Graham-Sharif, Intersectional Feminist Activist

Philomina Azu, Intersectional feminist activist

Forida Khatoun, Equalities Campaigner

Shazia Shamim, Equalities Campaigner

Monsura Mahmoud, Equalities Campaigner

Shaista Aziz, Cllr Rose Hill and Iffley, Oxford

Professor Marianne Hester, University of Bristol

Professor Liz Kelly CBE, London Metropolitan University

Yasmin Rehman, Human Rights Activist

Dr Fiona Vera-Grey, School of Law, Durham University


Sara Kirkpatrick, RESPECT

Rasheda Ashanti Malcolm, Author and Domestic Abuse Specialist

Rachel Adamson, Director, Zero Tolerance

RMT Women’s Advisory Group


This letter was originally published on Aurora New Dawn’s website.