Tommy Robinson’s US visa delayed for further checks
Convicted fraudster Tommy Robinson will speak at an event hosted by a US politician by video-link because his visa application was not granted in time.
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.
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, denied his visa application had been rejected, describing reports as "fake news".
The Middle East Forum told the Press Association that Robinson's visa had not been denied but was going through "administrative processing".
Executive liaison Lisa Barbounis said Robinson would take part in Wednesday's event, hosted by Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar, by videolink, and added: "It wasn't denied [his visa], it has been reviewed for administrative processing.
"He has other invitations to speak later in the year and isn't worried about rushing to do the event because we can do a longer tour later."
However, US sources told the Press Association that Robinson's application had been denied, although he had the opportunity for a further review.
Administrative processing is when an application is sent for further screening and evaluation, or more information is requested of the applicant.
The process is usually expected to take up to 60 days, but the US Embassy in London's website said it can take more than six months.
Robinson told the Press Association that reports about his visa being denied 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 US Embassy in London said it could not comment on individual visa applications due to privacy.
A US State Department spokeswoman said its first priority was to ensure applicants did not pose a security risk.
She added: "We cannot speculate on whether someone may or may not be eligible for a visa, nor on any possible limitations.
"Our first priority when adjudicating visa applications is to ensure that applicants do not pose a security risk to the United States.
"If an applicant needs additional screening for whatever reason, we will not issue a visa until that screening is complete."
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 the US for a fundraising tour.
The MPs asked Mr Pompeo to issue an assurance the US would not grant a waiver to allow Mr Robinson to accept invitations to speak in Washington DC on November 14.