Convicted fraudster Tommy Robinson has branded reports he has been denied a visa to the US as “fake news”.
The English Defence League co-founder was due to meet Republican politicians in Washington this week at the invitation of the Middle East Forum.
But Daniel Pipes, president of the conservative Philadelphia-based organisation, said Robinson had not been granted a visa in time for the meeting, Reuters reported.
He said Robinson recently applied for a visa at the US Embassy in London but realised it “will take a while” for him to be allowed into the country.
But Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, categorically denied his visa application had been rejected.
He told the Press Association reports about it were “fake news” and hung up the phone without answering further questions.
Robinson is currently barred from the US after attempting to enter the country using a friend’s passport in 2012, having been blocked from travelling under standard arrangements because of “multiple criminal convictions, including several for violent conduct and assault as well as mortgage fraud”.
He gained a high profile in the US after right-wing websites took up his cause when he was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court. The sentence was later quashed and the case has been referred to the Attorney General.
The Middle East Forum on Sunday wrote on its website that Robinson will speak at the event via video link, but did not say whether this was due to his visa not being approved.
The US Embassy in London said it could not comment on individual visa application due to privacy.
Travellers with criminal convictions applying to enter the US have to go through an adjudication process and could have their visa denied.
Robinson’s planned tour of the US sparked more than 50 cross-party MPs to write to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging him not to permit Robinson to enter America for a fundraising tour.
The MPs asked Mr Pompeo to issue an assurance the US will not grant a waiver to allow Mr Robinson to accept invitations to speak in Washington DC on November 14.