Hundreds protest as Tommy Robinson arrives at court

Hundreds protest as Tommy Robinson arrives at court

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Activist Tommy Robinson said he was feeling quietly confident as he arrived at the Old Bailey to face a fresh contempt of court hearing.

The former English Defence League (EDL) leader, 35, was greeted by cheers from more than 100 people gathered outside court, who had earlier chanted his name.

Protesters were carrying Union flags, St George's Cross flags and placards reading "free Tommy".

The noise levels rose as a smaller counter-protest sprang up nearby.


'I'm on trial for speaking into a microphone' 

The former English Defence League leader is accused of contempt of court.

He 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.

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.

He appeared at the Old Bailey on Thursday under his real name, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, to face a fresh hearing over the allegation.

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

He said: "I believe they want me in prison for Christmas.

"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."

Protesters from a smaller counter-demonstration carried placards saying "oppose Tommy Robinson".

Robinson was ushered into court amid a large police presence as photographers and cameramen jostled for position.

Asked if he was feeling confident, Robinson told the Press Association: "Yeah, quietly."


'A muddle over the nature of the contempt' 

Pro-Tommy Robinson protesters outside of the court in London

Robinson, whose case is listed under his real name, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, 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 the judge, the Recorder of London Nicholas Hilliard QC, finds him in contempt - the maximum sentence is two years imprisonment.

Robinson was jailed in May after filming people involved in a criminal trial and broadcasting the footage on social media, and has already served the equivalent of a four-month sentence.

He was sentenced 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.

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 the judge at 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.