One of the Army’s most senior officers said today it ‘absolutely does not tolerate extremist views’ as top brass investigated how far-right activist Tommy Robinson found himself surrounded by soldiers chanting his name.
The former English Defence League (EDL) leader, 35, shared the image from Watford Gap motorway services on the M1 after meeting the young men in camouflage fatigues on Monday.
He also posted a video of the incident where the Army personnel started cheering and shouting his name.
But Major General Rupert Jones, who will shortly take up the appointment of Standing Joint Force Commander, said today he was ‘confident’ extremist views are not prevalent in the forces.
He said: ‘The British Army is absolutely clear that we do not tolerate extremist views and we don’t tolerate extremist behaviour.
‘I am very confident that is a widely held position across the Army. Much of the reaction to that incident from our people tells you that.’
“A moment like this makes it all worth while. Today I met real British heroes (SIC),” he wrote in the Facebook post.
The Army said it is aware of the photograph and footage and is “investigating the circumstances surrounding this”.
A spokeswoman said: “Far right ideology is completely at odds with the values and ethos of the Armed Forces.
“The Armed Forces have robust measures in place to ensure those exhibiting extremist views are neither tolerated nor permitted to serve.”
Imam Asim Hafiz, Islamic religious advisor to the Armed Forces, said that “any form of racism, discrimination or extremism is taken extremely seriously and will be dealt with accordingly”.
“The Armed Forces remain absolutely committed to welcoming individuals from across all faiths and cultures into its ranks,” he added.
The Muslim Council of Britain said Mr Robinson “does not represent our Armed Forces, however much he tries to claim otherwise”.
“He will rile against the very real steps taken to make the military more diverse,” a spokesman added.
“He will remain silent on the sacrifices Muslims and others made in the two World Wars.
“We welcome the swift statement by the Army in disassociating itself from the far-right and we hope that safeguards are put in place to ensure that Islamophobia will have no place in our armed forces.”