They want me in prison for Christmas, says Robinson as contempt case adjourned

Far-right activist Tommy Robinson said he believes the authorities want him in prison for Christmas after a fresh hearing into contempt of court claims was adjourned.

The former English Defence League (EDL) leader was greeted by cheers from hundreds of supporters gathered outside court, who chanted his name, and held up Union and St George’s flags.

Tommy Robinson court case
Hundreds of Tommy Robinson’s supporters gathered outside the Old Bailey (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Once inside the Old Bailey, the 35-year-old smiled and waved to them from a window.

Protesters from a smaller counter-demonstration carried placards saying “Oppose Tommy Robinson” as he was ushered into court amid a large police presence, while photographers and camera operators jostled for position.

Tommy Robinson court case
A counter-demonstration to Tommy Robinson supporters outside the Old Bailey (Yui Mok/PA)

Asked before the hearing if he was feeling confident, Robinson told the Press Association: “Yeah, quietly.”

He was referred to by his real name, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, throughout the brief hearing and sat behind his barrister, Richard Furlong, in the courtroom, wearing jeans, black trainers, and a grey checked jacket.

Tommy Robinson court case
Former EDL keader Tommy Robinson smiles at supporters from a window of the Old Bailey (Yui Mok/PA)

The Recorder of London, Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, adjourned the case, saying he would receive written submissions before making a ruling at a later date on whether the contempt of court hearing will take place at the Old Bailey.

Speaking to reporters outside court, Robinson criticised the justice system, saying the case had already faced several delays.

“I believe they want me in prison for Christmas,” he said.

“The law’s supposed to be blind, but it’s not supposed to be deaf and dumb. I’m being specifically targeted for who I am.

“I want closure. I believe they are purposely not giving me closure.

“We are in the Old Bailey, the highest court in the land. The rest of the people here are on trial for terrorism and murder.

“I’m on trial for speaking into a microphone.”

His supporters chanted: “We will be back again.”

Tommy Robinson court case
Tommy Robinson supporters outside the Old Bailey (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Robinson was released from prison last month after three leading judges quashed a finding made at Leeds Crown Court in May, and granted him conditional bail from a 13-month jail sentence.

He is alleged to have committed contempt of court by filming people in a criminal trial and broadcasting footage on social media.

He could face being sent back to jail if Judge Hilliard finds him in contempt – the maximum sentence is two years’ imprisonment.

He was sentenced in May to 10 months’ imprisonment for contempt of court, which he admitted, and a further three months for breaching a previous suspended sentence.

In May last year he faced contempt proceedings over footage he filmed during the trial of four men who were later convicted of gang-raping a teenage girl.

Tommy Robinson court case
Tommy Robinson supporters outside the Old Bailey (David Mirzoeff/PA)

A judge at Canterbury Crown Court gave him a three-month suspended sentence and told him his punishment was not about “freedom of speech or freedom of the press” but about “justice and ensuring that a trial can be carried out justly and fairly”.

Robinson appealed against both contempt findings at a hearing last month heard by Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, Mr Justice Turner and Mrs Justice McGowan.

They found that the judge in Leeds should not have commenced contempt proceedings that day.

Lord Burnett said “no particulars of the contempt were formulated or put to the appellant”, and there was “a muddle over the nature of the contempt being considered”.

He added: “Where a custodial term of considerable length is being imposed, it should not usually occur so quickly after the conduct which is complained of; a sentence of committal to immediate custody had been pronounced within five hours of the conduct taking place.”

The judges dismissed Robinson’s appeal in respect of the contempt finding at Canterbury Crown Court.