EDL leader jailed over passport

English Defence League leader Stephen Lennon was today jailed for 10 months at Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to using someone else's passport to get into the United States.

Lennon guilty plea showed 'courage'

In mitigation, his defence barrister, Giles Cockings, told the court that Lennon had not stolen the passport, and had only used it for a day.

He told the court his client had pleaded guilty immediately, demonstrating "a certain amount of courage".

He went on:

Perhaps what screams volumes from this particular case are two main areas.

Firstly, this passport was not stolen, it was lent by a friend for whatever purpose.

Secondly, he was only using the passport, it transpires, for a day and a half. In fact he only spent one evening in the United States of America.

I think the intention was simply to avoid a necessity for a visa into the United States.

Upon realising that in actual fact it was not going to assist matters, on realising he had committed an offence, he used his own passport to come back.

It is not, I would suggest, the most aggravating of cases of this kind.

US did not welcome Lennon because of his 'convictions'

Sentencing the 30-year-old, Judge Alistair McCreath, told him:

I am going to sentence you under the name of Stephen Lennon although I suspect that is not actually your true name, in the sense that it is not the name that appears on your passport.

You knew perfectly well that you were not welcome in the United States.

You knew that because you tried before and you had not got in, and you knew the reason for that - because, rightly or wrongly, the US authorities do not welcome people in their country who have convictions of the kind that you have.

With that full knowledge, you equipped yourself with a passport. I am told that it was given you by way of a loan from your friend Andrew McMaster, to which you bore, I am told, some resemblance.

I am told that, by whatever means, you slipped away from the US authorities, got into the country and then very rapidly - and understandably so - got out of it.

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Lennon used friend's passport to enter US

The court heard that Lennon, who had previously been refused entry to the US, used his friend's passport to travel to the country in September.He used a self check-in kiosk to board the Virgin Atlantic flight at Heathrow, and was allowed through when the document was checked in the bag drop area.

But when he arrived at New York's JFK Airport, customs officials who took his fingerprints realised he was not Mr McMaster.

File photo of Stephen Lennon
File photo of Stephen Lennon Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Lennon was asked to attend a second interview but left the airport, entering the US illegally.

He stayed just one night and travelled back to the UK the following day using his own legitimate passport - which bears the name Paul Harris.

The court heard that is the name that appears on the EDL leader's passport, although he uses aliases.

EDL leader used fake passport to enter USA

English Defence League (EDL) leader Stephen Lennon, 30, pleaded guilty to possession of a false identity document with improper intention, contrary to the Identity Documents Act 2010, at Southwark Crown Court.

Lennon used a passport in the name of Andrew McMaster to board a Virgin Atlantic Flight from Heathrow to New York, but was caught out after his fingerprints were taken by customs officials.

He left the airport and entered the US illegally but left the country the following day, using his own passport to return to the UK.