Tommy Robinson contempt of court case to be heard by High Court judges

Tommy Robinson will appear in court to face an allegation he committed contempt of court by filming defendants in a criminal trial and broadcasting footage on social media.

The former English Defence League (EDL) leader, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, served two months in jail before being freed after a previous finding of contempt was overturned by the Court of Appeal in August 2018.

But Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Warby gave permission for fresh proceedings to be brought against him at a hearing in May.

Tommy Robinson
A contempt finding made against Robinson was quashed by the Court of Appeal in August (Joe Giddens/PA)

On Thursday and Friday at the Old Bailey, the High Court judges will hear the new application by the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC to commit Robinson to prison.

Robinson, 36, from Luton, Bedfordshire, could be sent back to jail if he is again found in contempt, which carries a maximum sentence of two years.

He was jailed for 13 months in May 2018 after he filmed people involved in a criminal trial at Leeds Crown Court and broadcast the footage on social media.

The sentence included three months for a contempt at Canterbury Crown Court in May 2017, which was suspended at the time.

But he was freed from prison after serving two months of his sentence following the Court of Appeal’s decision to quash the finding of contempt made in Leeds.

Tommy Robinson supporters
Supporters of Tommy Robinson gather outside the Old Bailey in May (Jonathan Brady/PA)

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.

During the hearing at the Old Bailey in June, Andrew Caldecott QC said the Attorney General considers Robinson’s conduct during the Leeds Crown Court trial to be of “great concern”.

He told the court that in one part of the broadcast, Robinson said of a defendant: “Harass him, find him, go knock on his door, follow him, see where he works, see what he’s doing.”

Mr Caldecott said Robinson also discussed how his video would be shared and “hopefully millions” of people would see it.

He added: “The Attorney General is extremely concerned that conduct of the kind, particularly in those two passages seen in the context of the wider video, should in any way be considered as acceptable.”

The barrister said it was “unfortunate” the history of the case was “prolonged” and accepted it had caused increased stress for Robinson.

In written submissions to the court, Mr Caldecott said correspondence from Robinson’s solicitors “advanced various reasons why contempt proceedings should not be pursued”.

These included the “exceptionally arduous” conditions of imprisonment he has already endured, a “medical matter”, “delay”, and “cost to the public purse”.

In the video, which lasted an hour and a half and was viewed online 250,000 times after being live-streamed on Facebook, he discussed a trial of members of a Huddersfield grooming gang.

The trial was covered by a reporting restriction banning publication of any details until after the end of several linked cases, in a bid to ensure the defendants all received a fair trial.

A number of Robinson’s supporters gathered outside court during the June hearing, as well as a counter-demonstration organised by Stand Up To Racism.

The contempt hearing starts at 10.30am and is due to last for two days, during which Robinson is expected to give evidence.

Read Full Story