Former English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson has been accused by police of inciting racial hatred after wearing an anti-Islamic State (Isis) shirt and holding an England flag with the words "F**k Isis" printed on the front, his lawyer has claimed.
Robinson had managed to escape being banned from travelling to France to watch England play in the Euro 2016 tournament after police officers arrived at his home near Luton when he'd already left the country.
The 33-year-old was pictured days later in France holding an England flag with the words "F**k Isis" and wearing a shirt showing a cartoon of an England fan urinating on the Black Banner flag adopted by Islamic State (Daesh).
On his return to the UK, Bedfordshire Police appeared committed to pursuing the banning order and served him with the application.
A subsequent hearing at Luton Magistrates' Court on Friday (24 June) saw bail conditions imposed to have Robinson's passport taken away.
His lawyer, Alison Gurden, told IBTimes UK she was then served with further police statements relating to the banning order on Saturday. She claimed Bedfordshire Police and the UK Football Policing Unit had complained Robinson had "incited racial hatred" while in France due to the anti-Isis material he had been pictured alongside.
She said in a statement on her website, published on Wednesday (29 June): "The mainstay of the application by Bedfordshire Police is that Tommy Robinson, while in France, was pictured wearing an anti-Isis T-Shirt, and holding up an English Saint George Cross flag with 'F**k Isis' written across it, and that this was aimed at inciting racial hatred against Muslims.
"Both I and my client are very concerned that the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police and the UK Football Policing Unit have equated Tommy Robinson's demonstration against a banned extremist terrorist organisation as being the same as showing hatred towards people of the Muslim faith."
Robinson, who now leads anti-Islam movement Pegida UK, claimed he was being "harassed" by the police for his activism. He has always insisted his political campaigning is against "the ideology of Islam", and not Muslims.
He told IBTimes UK: "It's completely ridiculous. In court on Friday they said I had incited racial hatred because of the England flag and shirt I wore. I had done everything I could to avoid any trouble while in France. I stayed away from Marseille because I thought there could be problems, and I stayed outside the city centre when I was in Lille."
A court hearing on Wednesday morning saw Robinson's bail conditions overturned and his passport handed back. He is due to appear in court again in September where he will contest the banning order application.
Robinson was convicted in 2011 of a public order offence after a brawl broke out between supporters of his home town of Luton and Newport County fans. He was handed a three-year football banning order, which expired in 2014.
A spokesperson for Bedfordshire Police would not comment specifically on the allegation of inciting racial hatred "due to the ongoing court proceedings".
They said the evidence against Robinson was "prepared before he arrived in France", adding: "Football banning orders are issued under the Football Spectators Act 1989 and are subject to certain criteria being met, with the aim of preventing the possibility of violence and disorder.
"As part of the nationwide operation to prevent disorder in France, Bedfordshire Police officers have identified 22 fans at London Luton Airport as being a potential risk and detained seven of those for further enquiries. The force has also successfully applied for a football banning order on a 26-year-old man from Sheffield, which resulted in a five-year ban."
Robinson is just one of a number of England football fans returning from the Euro 2016 competition to find themselves being served with football banning orders.
This follows three days of violence in Marseille following clashes between England fans, Russian supporters and locals. There was further fighting in Lille the following week, also involving England fans, with UK police spotters filming troublemakers.
The banning orders are made by separate police forces but at the request of the Home Office's UK Policing Football Unit.
Gurden, who specialises in representing those given football banning orders, said: "Tommy Robinson will vigorously defend this application against him. On Bedfordshire Police's own admission, there is no evidence that Tommy Robinson has been involved in any reported football related disorder for at least the past 5 years."
She added: "I am concerned that this application is brought on the basis of a harassment campaign against Tommy Robinson, such that the Assistant Director of the United Kingdom Football Policing Unit, has become involved and provided a statement to the effect that as Tommy Robinson has a high social media profile, and is associated with Pegida UK this is likely to act as a catalyst for disorder and violence outside of the United Kingdom.
"This clearly is an attack on Tommy Robinson's freedom of speech and association, and is in direct contravention of the evidence which the UK Football Policing Unit have that Tommy Robinson travelled to France during the period that the England football team played in Marseille, yet he chose not to travel to Marseille, but instead was in Paris without any incident of violence or disorder."
The UK Football Policing Unit has been contacted by IBTimes UK for a comment.