COMMUNITY leaders have condemned the arrival of far-right activist Tommy Robinson in Barrow.

Mr Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, joined hundreds of protesters in the town’s Hollywood Retail Park on Monday evening.

The protest was organised in response to an alleged grooming gang in Barrow after a woman claimed she had been beaten, burned, drugged and trafficked for sex throughout the north of England by a gang of Asian men.

The family of the alleged sex assault victim condemned Mr Robinson's involvement in the campaign and 'appealed for calm'.

They said: “We want to make it clear that this has nothing to do with us and we do not want him involved.

“We are a peaceful family who condemns any form of racial hatred."

Protesters gathered in the car park before an organised convoy to Ulverston and back.

Videos shared from the scene showed very little social distancing among the hundreds gathered.

A spokesman for Barrow Borough Council Labour Group said: “Our thoughts are with the woman and her family and we applaud their decision to have nothing to do with so-called Tommy Robinson and his supporters.

“He is using this situation to attack Asian people and to whip up race hatred in Barrow and across Furness.

“We find his actions deplorable and we know that most people do not want him and his gang on our streets.

“We were also concerned by the lack of social distancing at the rally in Hollywood Park on Monday evening which could be seen on pictures that were posted. Guidelines were ignored despite the high Covid-19 rates in Barrow."

Simon Fell, MP for Barrow and Furness, said: "I see that Mr Yaxley-Lennon has arrived in town.

"A deeply unhelpful intervention that will only increase tensions in our community at the worst possible time.

"We didn't fall for his pitch last May when he turned up looking for votes to become an MEP. Nor shall we now."

Police had stopped Mr Robinson and a film crew on the A590 earlier on Monday afternoon.

He told police he had travelled from Luton and was in Cumbria to report on the grooming allegations as a journalist.

A police spokeswoman confirmed no arrests were made at the protest.

She said: "No arrests were made at Hollywood Park on Monday night.

"With regards to Tommy Robinson being allowed to carry on into Barrow, this is due to the latest government guidelines which state that there is no longer limitations on how far you can travel, so we were unable to prevent him from coming into the area."

Tommos Chinese Takeaway in Cavendish Street has suspended collection orders for three weeks due to the protest in Hollywood Park.

They said: "To protect our staff and customers we are suspending collection orders for three weeks just to be on the safe side.

"We will also be asking our drivers to start using masks again to protect everybody best we can. We apologise but we feel safety must come first."