Tommy Robinson's offer of EU Parliament salary to grooming victims branded 'insult'
Stephen Yaxley Lennon's pledge to offer his European Parliament salary to grooming victims if he is elected has been rejected and branded a 'profound insult' by women's groups.
More than 40 women and charities have signed a letter saying they would not accept money from the English Defence League founder, better known as Tommy Robinson, who is campaigning to be an independent MEP.
Mr Yaxley-Lennon, has told voters in the North West where he is running that he would donate '100%' of any EU salary to 'child victims of sexual grooming'.
-> Police warning after teenagers terrorise Yorkshire community with petrol bomb and machetesThe letter signed by charities including the End Violence Against Women and Girls Coalition criticised Mr Yaxley-Lennon for frequently singling out Muslims as being behind grooming 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," it reads.
"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.
"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.
"It is 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."
Other charity signatories include author and Women for Refugee Women founder Natasha Walter, Rape Crisis Surrey and Sussex, Rape Crisis South London, the Women's Centre Cornwall and Gurpreet Virdee, a director at the Women and Girls Network.
-> 95-year-old Leeds man is the oldest working tailor in the UKMr Yaxley-Lennon made the pledge in a YouTube campaign video, while it has also been shared on his Telegram channel, a main point of mass communication since his bans from Twitter and Facebook.
MEPs get a monthly salary of roughly £7,500 before tax.
In the weeks since launching his campaign for the May 23 election, Mr Yaxley-Lennon has twice been struck by milkshakes and police are investigating a number of alleged assaults during his visit to Warrington.
Mr Yaxley-Lennon criticised those who signed the letter.
"They need to think of the victims, not of their own politicisation of the situation, that money is to go to any victims of sexual exploitation, including Muslims," he said.
"They are in no position to turn down money, they shouldn't be.
"They should be in the position to help victims and if that money helps victims, which it does, gets them off the waiting list for counselling, then they are playing with the victims, not me."
-> Thugs kill hedgehog and her three babies by stamping on them in YorkshireMatthew McGregor, campaign director for anti-racism campaigners Hope Not Hate, said: "This is one of Tommy Robinson's most cynical stunts. Abuse survivors don't need someone whose main interest is in funding his already lavish lifestyle and spreading hatred.
"Tommy Robinson is a convicted fraudster playing to type, trying to use the misery of others to promote the only thing he cares about - himself."