Crowds chant support for Tommy Robinson as former EDL leader returns to court
Crowds of supporters chanted “Oh Tommy Tommy” and blasted klaxons outside the Old Bailey as former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson returned for his contempt of court case.
The defendant – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – faces a day-long hearing before Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC in London’s central criminal court.
The 35-year-old was freed from prison in August after three judges quashed a contempt of court finding made at Leeds Crown Court.
He could be sent back to jail if he is again found in contempt for filming people in a criminal trial in Leeds and broadcasting the footage on social media.
Metropolitan Police and their colleagues from the City of London manned barricades outside court as supporters held a rally.
England and union flags, as well those for Ukip, were flying as dozens of protesters gathered early on Tuesday morning.
Under the watchful gaze of officers, the largely male crowd chanted “oh Tommy Robinson”, while some got in an early can of Stella Artois before the hearing.
Robinson walked through the chanting crowd to make an anticipated address rather than take the easy route from behind the stage.
“We want Tommy out,” they shouted, as supporters filmed him on their phones.
They patted the suited EDL founder on the back and expressed their gratitude.
A supporter in a union flag suit said: “I have come here to support Tommy because there’s so many injustices going on in the world today.
“I’ve learned so many things in the last two years, such as the killings of anyone that’s not of the Islamic faith.”
A passing cyclist said: “Fascist.”
A small group of anti-fascism campaigners faced Robinson fans from behind the stage, where fans anticipated a speech from the EDL founder.
Last month, Robinson was ushered into court amid similar scenes outside.
Following the brief hearing on September 27, a video appearing to show Robinson at a window within the court building was posted on the Twitter account of Ezra Levant, a reporter for the right-wing Rebel Media organisation.
In the footage, Robinson says “that’s such a good feeling” before promising to go and greet the crowd of hundreds of supporters cheering and chanting outside.
The video is believed to have been made in the canteen on the Old Bailey’s second floor. By the afternoon, it had been viewed more than 160,000 times.
Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 (CJA 1925) makes it an offence to photograph people within court precincts.
City of London had confirmed they were looking into whether any offences were committed at September court appearance.