Right-wing English Defence League thugs attack Russell Brand book group – thinking comedian would be there

Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett
A group of right-wing English Defence League thugs gatecrashed a Newcastle upon Tyne book club meeting because they mistakenly thought author and comedian Russell Brand would be present.

Around 15 men, reportedly members of the far-right English Defence League (EDL), descended on the book club after receiving a tipoff that “Revolution” author Brand, whose book was the evening’s topic, would be attending the event.

The meeting was initially billed as a peaceful open meeting to discuss the meaning of the word “revolution.

Early on, however, EDL protestors trooped into the meeting room and began chanting, “No surrender to the Taliban,” and “With St George in my heart, keep me English.”

Dan Jenkins, who attended the event, told The Chronicle the group was perplexed when the men began shouting Islamophobic chants in the middle of the discussion.

“It was an open book club to discuss Russell Brand’s new book. But the guys from EDL clearly thought he was going to turn up himself, so had gathered a group together from all over the North East to come and disturb the meeting,” he said.

“I got there a bit late so I was sitting among them at the back and I could hear them talking about it and asking when he was coming and then 20 minutes in they realized that he wasn’t coming so they decided to be disruptive,” he added.

Supporters of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) take part in a march in London (AFP Photo)

Regional EDL organizer Alan Spence claimed activists attacked the meeting in retaliation for similar disruption meted out on their events by left-wingers.

“The last time we had a North East meet-and-greet, some of the left-wing went down to the pub and abused the barmaid, prior to us getting there.”

“So we thought it was time we returned the favor. Any left-wing organization in the North East should expect a visit from the EDL if this happens again.”

He further said the presence of Brand would have been a “bonus,” calling the comedian-turned-activist a “joke.”

Jenkins said that the men “didn’t know what to do with themselves.”

“They were chanting about Muslims and the Taliban and being Islamophobic,” he said. “They clearly just didn’t know what to do with themselves. They’d brought video cameras with them and everything, they were clearly hoping to make a real scene.”

Jenkins said onlookers were bemused by the invasion rather than threatened.

Agle Dubinkaite, manager of the bar hosting the book club, said she called the police after the men refused to leave.

“Some people were causing a bit of a disturbance so naturally I called the police to escort them out. They refused to leave when I asked them to and there were quite a few of them.”