Published: Thu, July 11, 2019

Tommy Robinson to be sentenced for contempt of court

Tommy Robinson to be sentenced for contempt of court

He was found in contempt last week for breaching a reporting ban by videoing defendants accused of sexually exploiting young girls outside a courthouse in Leeds, northern England, while jurors were still considering their verdicts.

The activist's Telegram account slammed the court's ruling and called on his supporters to protest it.

The English Defence League founder, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was handed a nine month sentence at the Old Bailey, but will only spend 10 weeks behind bars.

There were scuffles with the police as his supporters blocked the gates to parliament and shouted "paedo protectors" and "we want Tommy out".

He was previously jailed for sharing the video, taken outside Leeds Crown Court in May 2018.

"Posting material online that breaches reporting restrictions or risks prejudicing legal proceedings has consequences, and I would urge everyone to think carefully about whether their social media posts could amount to contempt of court", he said.

Giving reasons for the contempt finding on Tuesday, Dame Victoria said Robinson encouraged "vigilante action" in the video, which lasted an hour-and-a-half and was viewed online 250,000 times on the morning of the broadcast.

He was sentenced on Thursday.

Robinson and his lawyer, Richard Furlong, have argued however that he had only provided information that was already in the public domain.

Despite the shortened term, supporters of the 36-year-old who had assembled outside the court reacted angrily, which resulted in violent clashes with police.

Dame Victoria Sharp, sitting with Mr Justice Warby, said the contempt committed by Robinson was not "deliberate defiance" and he had not meant to "interfere with the administration of justice".

Robinson, who founded the English Defense League organization, was originally sentenced past year to 13 months in jail after broadcasting the Leeds footage, but was released two months into the term following a successful appeal.

However, the restrictions had been in place to postpone publication of any details of the case until the end of all the trials, in order to ensure a fair trial of the 29 defendants.

Robinson made the request during an interview with right-wing conspiracy theory channel InfoWars, telling the website he felt like he was "two days away from being sentenced to death in the UK".

The former English Defence League (EDL) leader attended court for his sentencing 20 minutes late, wearing a t-shirt reading "convicted of journalism", saying he had been delayed by supporters.

The Court of Appeal, however, ordered a rehearing and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, the government's chief legal adviser, chose to start contempt proceedings against him.

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