Matt Jackson, StokeonTrentLive, October 4, 2018
Teenager Alissa Cook-Gray says she was given a ‘final warning’ by her college – because she told classmates her favourite person was Tommy Robinson.
The 17-year-old was attending the first day of her art and employability course at Total People, in Prince Albert Street, Crewe, when a political debate erupted among students.
Alissa, of Crewe, says her classmates were openly expressing their support for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn when she told them she identified more with right-wing ideologies.
When asked who she admired, Alissa responded that she liked right-wing activist Tommy Robinson, who is best known for forming the English Defence League and is a vocal opponent of Islam and its followers.
She told StokeonTrentLive she now feels ‘terrified’ to return to her course and has taken the decision it wasn’t for her, quitting after just over an hour of lessons.
Alissa said: “I was given a final warning for being too right wing. It was the first day and we were all having a conversation when Jeremy Corbyn came up, I asked people not to get into it because it was filled with a room of lefties.
“I said my opinion and the teacher said ‘get out, we don’t want people with your views’. I was given a final warning for being too right wing.
“The class then started asking everyone who their favourite person was and I said Tommy Robinson. I like what he is doing for our country and I follow all of his stories — I think he is a saviour.”
Alissa decided to take the course at the training centre as a ‘fresh start’ where she hoped to gain her qualifications in maths and English before taking an apprenticeship.
She added: “The tutor said she would have a word with the others but when I went in I felt quite uncomfortable because of what happened.
“Everyone should be allowed to have their own opinion but I felt mine was just shot down. I’m terrified and I don’t want to go back.”
Alissa’s dad Gareth Cook says the training centre should not discriminate people whether it is about race, religion, or their political views.
The 38-year-old said: “I’m absolutely fuming at what happened and they should not have turned around and said she might not be able to continue with the course.
“She had to sit there and put up with opinions she doesn’t agree with and they only reacted like this because it’s Tommy Robinson. I’m a big fan and think the guy is a legend but this is how people react when they hear his name.”
Tommy’s real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, but he has been known to use several aliases over the years, including Andrew McMaster and Paul Harris.
His mother was an Irish immigrant who worked as a baker while his adoptive father worked at a local Vauxhall car plant.
Despite performing well academically at school, Robinson repeatedly found himself in trouble as a teenager, citing fights with ‘Muslim gangs’ as one of the reasons for his ‘problems’ as a youth.
Robinson is the former leader of the English Defence League (EDL), a far-right street protest movement.
The group – which the former British National Party (BNP) member co-founded in 2009 – is opposed to the spread of ‘militant Islam’.
He also has a criminal record with convictions for a number of offences, including football-related violence, trying to travel on false documents and a protest against Fifa’s decision to stop the England football team wearing poppies on their shirts.
He has been to prison on multiple occasions including in 2014 for mortgage fraud.
After studying aircraft engineering for five years, Robinson lost his job at Luton Airport in 2003 after punching an off-duty police officer during a drunken row.
He claims that stricter security measures following the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, meant he has been blacklisted from working at airports.
The activist was banned from Twitter on March 28, 2018, for breaching the social media platform’s “hateful conduct” policy.
He is married with three children.
StokeonTrentLive approached Total People for comment but the organisation is yet to respond to our requests.
However, a spokesperson for Total People told the Mirror Online: “We are an inclusive organisation, we are values led and we ask that all learners are collaborative; respect each other’s views and work towards common goals.
“We have successfully worked with learners over a 20+ year period from many different backgrounds, religions and diverse cultures.
“We are confident that we provide a fair and supportive environment that enables everyone to work together and achieve their learning and employment goals.
“We uphold British values of Democracy, Rule of Law, Respect and Tolerance and Individual Liberty.”