Tommy Robinson arrested for contempt of court…whilst serving suspended sentence for contempt of court
Categories: Latest News
Wednesday May 30 2018
Far-right supporters of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, better known by his pseudonym Tommy Robinson, have been quick to attack the UK’s Criminal Justice System for arresting and now jailing the divisive activist, claiming that it was an outright attack on freedom of speech, seemingly forgetting that Robinson broke the law by being in contempt of court whilst serving a suspended sentence for – yes, you guessed it! – breaking the law and being in contempt of court.
Robinson was arrested last week, 25 May 2018, outside Leeds Crown Court for streaming an hour-long Facebook live session, in which he recorded and made accusatory remarks against defendants of a particular case, urging his supporters to share the video widely.
The incident was considered to be in contempt of court as his actions could prejudice the outcome of the trial he was ‘reporting’ on because of the potential direct and/or indirect influence it may have over jurors. This may result in the trial collapsing which would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to the British taxpayer and mean that justice would be delayed for the victims of the case.
However, his supporters are seemingly unaware or at least unconcerned of his actions which could have prejudiced and disrupted the case and have expressed outrage, demanding that Robinson is freed. Gerard Batten UKIP MEP went so far as stating that UKIP Peer Malcolm Pearson had written to the Home Office about how unfair the situation was and that if Robinson was harmed in prison they would hold Sajid Javid responsible. However, the responsibility of the Home Office is unclear as the department has no influence over the UK’s Criminal Justice System.
Though his supporters may not have known of the existence of the law or appreciated its importance, Robinson did.
Robinson knew full well that his actions were illegal, that they were a danger to the trial process and that they were likely to have him arrested and imprisoned because he was found guilty of all of these legal breaches just a year ago.
He was convicted in May 2017, at Canterbury Crown Court for disrupting a trial by attempting to ‘report’ on it and was handed down an 18-month suspended sentence.
Judge Heather Norton at the time said: “This is not about free speech…not about the freedom of the Press, nor about legitimate journalism, and not about political correctness…It is about justice and ensuring that a trial can be carried out justly and fairly…it’s about being innocent until proven guilty”.
She added: “This was a deliberate action on your part to take photographs of the defendants, actions which you continued in spite of being told not to do it”.
Robinson has now pleaded guilty and acknowledged that he was clearly in contempt of court, for which he has been given a 10-month prison sentence which means he was also in breach of his suspended sentence for which he has been awarded another 3 months.
It is interesting to note that far-right activists and supporters have sought to actively misrepresent the tackling of hate speech as an attack on freedom of speech to defend their divisive, agenda-driven and, at times, illegal hate rhetoric, seemingly ignoring civic duties and responsibilities, such as respect for the law, ordained on all citizens.