Former English Defence League head Tommy Robinson sentenced to prison for contempt of court

Former English Defence League head Tommy Robinson sentenced to prison for contempt of court
Robinson’s conviction came after he was found filming men accused of sex offences outside a court, in a video that was streamed thousands of his followers on Facebook.

3 min read
11 July, 2019
Tommy Robinson had begged the US for asylum ahead of the trial [LightRocket]
British far-right activist Tommy Robinson has been sentenced to nine months in jail after a court declared him guilty of contempt of court.

Robinson's conviction, which followed a two-day hearing, came after he was found guilty of filming men outside Leeds Crown Court in May 2018 who were accused of sex offences. The video was streamed on his Facebook page. 

Robinson denied any wrongdoing, saying he did not believe he was breaching any reporting restrictions and had only referred to information that was already in the public domain.

"Today's sentencing of Yaxley-Lennon [Robinson's real name] serves to illustrate how seriously the courts will take matters of contempt," Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said in a statement.

"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 added.

Contempt of court carries a maximum sentence of two years but the far-right activist, who has consistently claimed to engage in journalism, will only spend around 10 weeks in prison after reductions from previous time in prison.

The nine month sentence includes six months for the Facebook stream as well as three months for a similar incident at Canterbury Crown Court in 2017. A deduction for time spent in prison last year for the same offence will see him out on licence after just ten weeks.

Sky News reported an outbreak of violence outside the court where Robinson's supporters had gathered for the sentencing. Protesters reportedly threw missiles, including bottles and cans, at police officers.

Robinson himself on Thursday slammed the sentencing as a joke, in a message sent to his followers on his Telegram account.

"Sentenced to prison for journalism. Time for protests to start, this is an absolute joke!," he said, urging his followers to protest outside "whatever prison I'm in on Saturday please".

Just days earlier, Robinson had "begged" US President Donald Trump to grant him asylum ahead of the trial.

"I beg Donald Trump, I beg the American government, to look at my case. I need evacuation from this country because dark forces are at work," Robinson said in an interview with far-right American conspiracy site InfoWars on Monday.

"I feel like I'm two days away from being sentenced to death in the UK," he added.

Robinson claimed he would be killed in jail as British prisons are controlled by "jihadi gangs".

The far-right activist, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, founded the English Defence League (EDL)and has prior convictions for drugs and assault.

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