You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Top Stories

Tommy Robinson given nine-month jail term for contempt of court

The Guardian logo The Guardian 11/07/2019 Ben Quinn

Replay Video
UP NEXT
1
Cancel
UP NEXT
UP NEXT
Watch: Tommy Robinson jailed for nine months for contempt of court

Tommy Robinson has been given a nine-month jail sentence after he was found guilty of contempt of court at an earlier hearing.

The 36-year-old, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, broadcast reports that encouraged “vigilante action” and “unlawful physical” aggression against defendants in a sexual exploitation trial, according to the judges who found him guilty earlier this month.

Robinson, from Luton, Bedfordshire, had denied breaching a reporting ban by livestreaming footage of defendants arriving at court. He insisted he had only referred to information already in the public domain.

Tommy Robinson et al. holding wine glasses: Tommy Robinson broadcast reports that encouraged ‘vigilante action’ and ‘unlawful physical’ aggression against defendants in a sexual exploitation trial. © EPA Tommy Robinson broadcast reports that encouraged ‘vigilante action’ and ‘unlawful physical’ aggression against defendants in a sexual exploitation trial. After deduction for time served, the sentence will amount to 19 weeks.

Robinson arrived outside the Old Bailey dressed in blue jeans and a black T-shirt bearing the words “convicted of journalism” but was wearing a plain black one inside, where his barrister apologised for the defendant’s late arrival. The lead judge, Dame Victoria Sharp, said: “Well, it’s not a very good start, is it?”

Watch: 'I'm in court for doing what you've just done' Tommy Robinson tells Sky News reporter (Independent)

What to watch next
UP NEXT
UP NEXT
There was a significant police presence outside, with officers in riot gear much more visible than on previous days of the case, while hundreds of supporters of Robinson gathered behind barriers.

Related: Smoke bombs let off outside Old Bailey by Tommy Robinson protesters

© Getty

Aiden Eardley, barrister for the attorney general, who had taken the application for Robinson to be jailed, began by outlining the sentencing options, adding that complicating factors included time already served, which amounted to 68 days in custody.

Robinson had received 10 months when he was first jailed for the video which he livestreamed from outside Leeds crown court but appeal judges then ordered that the case be reheard in full.

© Getty Robinson’s barrister, Richard Furlong, said that there had been no further incidences of contempt and asked the court to consider any “actual harm caused” by his client’s actions.

He said: “Notwithstanding the seriousness of what has been found to be proven against him, in terms of actual harm to the trial of the criminal defendants in Leeds there is no suggestion that the criminal defendants in Leeds did not have a fair trial, notwithstanding his conduct outside the court.”

Addressing his client’s state of mind, Furlong also said that that there were a number of categories which were relevant, and “recklessness” was not as serious as others from the point of view of sentencing.

Related: How the far-right is appealing to the British middle class

© Getty

On the issue of costs, Furlong said that if the court was minded to issue an immediate custodial penalty it would obviously have an impact on his ability to pay and he appealed for judges to take account of that.

After he had finished his submission, Furlong was asked to make a number of other points, including that he was likely to be held in solitary confinement for his own safety.

Earlier this week, Robinson had made an emotional appeal to the US president, Donald Trump, to grant him asylum, claiming that he faced being killed in prison.

Katie Hopkins is seen as British far-right activist and former leader and founder of English Defence League (EDL), Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, arrives at the Old Bailey on July 11, 2019 in London © Getty Katie Hopkins is seen as British far-right activist and former leader and founder of English Defence League (EDL), Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, arrives at the Old Bailey on July 11, 2019 in London

On Thursday he was joined by the far right commentator Katie Hopkins, who was also inside the court. Other supporters inside included Ezra Levant, the founder of Canadian far-right platform the Rebel Media. Gerard Batten, the former Ukip leader who had taken on Robinson as adviser before the party were wiped out in the recent European parliament elections, addressed crowds from a stage.

Robinson meanwhile issued an appeal using Telegram for supporters to protest outside prison on Saturday.

Related: From high security to open prisons - life on the inside revealed (Photos)

A full decision of the high court, released on Tuesday, explained their reasons for ruling against him. Dame Victoria Sharp, president of the Queen’s bench division, and Mr Justice Warby produced a three-page judgment setting out their findings last week.

“We are entirely satisfied that [Robinson] had actual knowledge that there was an order in force restricting reporting of the trial,” the judges concluded. “He said as much, repeatedly, on the video itself.”

Robinson was found to have committed contempt by breaching a reporting restriction, risked impeding the course of justice and interfered with the administration of justice by “aggressively, and openly filming” the arrival of defendants at court.

Commenting on the impact of Robinson’s actions, the two judges said: “The dangers of using the unmoderated platforms of social media, with the unparalleled speed and reach of such communications, are obvious.

Biggest news stories of 2019 (Photos)

MSN are empowering Women In Sport this summer. Find out more about our campaign and the charity fighting to promote the transformational and lifelong rewards of exercise for women and girls in the UK here.editor

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Guardian

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon