Update: Stripe has temporarily reinstated Tommy Robinson’s account, pending a two-week review.
The full letter from Tommy Robinson’s lawyer to Stripe is at the bottom of this post.
When Tommy Robinson left the Old Bailey on Tuesday, he wanted to focus on his campaign for the European Parliament. A decision two days later from a Silicon Valley tech giant may make that more difficult.
A New York law firm representing Robinson says two of the British candidate’s accounts with Stripe – an online payment processing company – were suspended, including one used exclusively by the VoteTommy election campaign.
“Stripe informed Tommy this week that two accounts connected with him…were terminated on the ground that his business violated the Stripe Services Agreement,” a letter from Ronald Coleman to Stripe’s general counsel says. “Tommy’s campaign and fundraising are entirely lawful under both UK and EU law. Tommy has complied with all legal requirements for registering as an official candidate and he will be on the ballet in the EU Parliament election on May 23rd.”
Stripe has issued no public statement about the suspension, though I’ve reached out to the company’s media relations office and will update this when I hear back.
Coleman goes on his letter to note that Stripe has not denied its services to any other candidate in the election, and that the suspension “is seriously hindering Tommy’s ability to participate in the democratic process.”
My longstanding belief is that companies should have the right to do business with whomever they’d like, and should not be compelled otherwise. This is not as cut-and-dried where elections are concerned.
Canadian election law, for example, requires that publishers allow all candidates the opportunity to purchase advertising if it will allow some to do so. A company terminating a relationship with one week until the election disadvantages Robinson’s campaign at what is often the most critical point for fundraising.
Imagine if, say, a candidate’s web host decided in the days before an election that it would take their website offline, and that website was the vehicle through which the campaign would email people about how and where to vote.
I won’t pretend to know the intricacies of European election law, but if Stripe had an issue with being the payment processor of Robinson’s campaign, it has had ample opportunities to make a decision to suspend prior to this point.
Letter from Tommy Robinson&… by on Scribd