Far-right group founder 'under threat' at rally

The founder of the English Defence League said he has been warned his life is in danger if he leads a protest in Luton today.

Stephen Lennon, 28, claimed senior police officers urged him to leave his home town ahead of the anticipated arrival of thousands of EDL supporters.

The militant anti-Islamist said he has been issued a so-called Osman warning by Bedfordshire Police and is under police protection.

Mr Lennon, who routinely wears a bulletproof vest, said the warning followed a text message threatening to kill his children.

He said a written warning given to him by police said the Islamic community were "agitated" by the forthcoming EDL demonstration.

The message added: "There is a threat to the life of leader Stephen Lennon. This is likely to be aggravated by the visit to Luton.

"You would be advised it would more appropriate if you leave the area for the foreseeable future."

Bedfordshire Police, which have been preparing for the demonstration for weeks, declined to comment on the claim.

It is understood an unarmed police officer has been stationed outside Mr Lennon's home but he is not acting as a "bodyguard".

Senior members of the EDL claim more than 4,000 supporters from across Britain and overseas will converge on Luton today for a march and rally.

The event has been billed with the slogan "Back to Where It All Began" alongside images of EDL members in balaclavas.

The route takes protesters from High Town to St George's Square where speeches will take place at about 1pm.

A counter demonstration, organised by Unite Against Fascism, will take place at the same time in Park Square, at the other end of the town's shopping centre.

Sales of alcohol from pubs and off-licences will stop from noon and police expect some shops to close voluntarily.

Hundreds of police dressed in overalls and carrying riot helmets, supported by mounted officers and dog units, will be on duty.

Speaking about the demonstration, Mr Lennon, who uses the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, said members did not want violence.

He added: "There will be 200 of our own security stewards present and we should hopefully be able to police our own demonstration."