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'The guards don't run the prison, Islam does': my interview with a 'reformed' Tommy Robinson
by Jamie Bartlett
When Tommy Robinson, former leader of the English Defence League, arrived at Woodhill prison in January 2014 after being sentenced to 18 months in prison for mortgage fraud, he was told he'd be lucky to make it out alive.
I have been writing to Robinson – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon – while he's been in prison to find out what's happened to him, and what he plans to do next.
Woodhill is a maximum security prison. Around 15 per cent of inmates are Muslim (which mirrors national averages – Muslims, who make up 3 per cent of the total population, are overrepresented in British prisons). It also holds what are known as "category A" prisoners – the most serious offenders. This, according to Robinson, includes a number of Islamist extremists, such as those convicted last year of trying to detonate a bomb at an EDL march (data protection law means I'm unable to verify this). Why Robinson – whose crime makes him a category C prisoner – was sent there is not clear. However, it is not unusual for prisoners to be placed in category A prisons if the local prison is full at the time of sentencing. It was not a happy experience.
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