A fresh case against Tommy Robinson over an alleged contempt of court may not go ahead if judges consider there would be “serious unfairness” to him, the High Court has heard.
The former English National Defence (EDL) leader, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, faces an allegation he committed contempt by filming people in a criminal trial and broadcasting footage on social media.
Lawyers representing Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC outlined their case on the bringing of fresh proceedings during a hearing before two High Court judges sitting at the Old Bailey on Tuesday.
Andrew Caldecott QC said the court should give “due weight” to the Attorney General’s assessment that fresh proceedings are in the public interest, but that it is “not conclusive”.
The case against Robinson is being pursued on the basis he allegedly committed contempt by breaching a reporting restriction, breaching the rules covering court reporting and common law contempt.
Mr Caldecott told the court it has to be satisfied that there is a “reasonably arguable” case on each of the grounds.
He said the court may decide to refuse permission for fresh proceedings to go ahead if it is satisfied there was “serious unfairness” to Robinson.
In written submissions to the court, Mr Caldecott said that in correspondence, Robinson’s solicitors “have advanced various reasons why contempt proceedings should not be pursued”.
These include the “exceptionally arduous” conditions of imprisonment he has already endured, a “medical matter”, delay, and “cost to the public purse”.
Robinson was jailed for 13 months in May last year after he filmed people involved in a criminal trial at Leeds Crown Court and broadcast the footage on social media.
But a contempt finding made against Robinson was quashed by the Court of Appeal in August and he was freed from prison after serving two months of his sentence.
The case was then referred back to the Attorney General, who announced in March that it was in the public interest to bring fresh proceedings against Robinson.
Robinson, 36, from Luton, could be sent back to jail if he is again found in contempt, which carries a maximum sentence of two years.
He sat behind his lawyers throughout the hearing in court two, wearing a blue shirt and light-grey jacket – having changed out of a white “Vote Tommy” T-shirt he was seen wearing when entering the building.
Crowds gathered outside court ahead of the hearing in support of Robinson, who is standing for election as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the North West Region in the European elections later this month, as well as a counter demonstration organised by Stand Up to Racism.
In a brief speech to the several hundred supporters gathered, Robinson said the case against him was “politically motivated”.