Steve Bird, Telegraph, May 30, 2018
The founder of the English Defence League has been jailed for 13 months after broadcasting on Facebook outside a court.
Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who also uses the name Tommy Robinson, was arrested outside Leeds Crown Court amid fears his hour-long live online tirade could jeopardise a trial.
Only now can it be revealed that he was jailed last week for 10 months for contempt of court and a further three months for breaching the terms of a previous suspended prison sentence. He admitted the offences.
The judge said the footage he streamed was seen by more than 250,000 people and had the potential to cause a long running trial to be derailed at the cost of “hundreds of thousands of pounds” of taxpayers’ money. Details of the case he was broadcasting about cannot be reported until later this year. An order banning reporting that Yaxley-Lennon had been jailed was later lifted.
Robinson, 35, from Bedford, filmed himself reading out the defendants’ names and the charges they face as well as him confronting them as they arrived outside court.
The Far Right campaigner was arrested on suspicion of a breach of the peace. According to the LeedsLive website, the video footage was played to Judge Geoffrey Marson QC as Robinson, who has convictions dating back to 2005, sat in the dock.
The judge said: “He referred to the charges that the defendants faced and some charges which are not proceeded against in relation to some defendants.”
Martin Harding, defending Yaxley-Lennon, said his client knew of the reporting restrictions imposed on the case and felt “deep regret” after comprehending the potential consequences of his behaviour.
According to the LeedsLive website, the court had also heard that Yaxley-Lennon had been the victim of an assaults while serving earlier prison sentences and there was a “price on his head”.
The judge said he respected the right to freedom of speech but said those rights came with responsibilities.
His imprisonment led to hundreds of people staging an impromptu demonstration outside Downing Street calling for his release.
Whitehall was closed to traffic as protesters, many draped in St George’s Cross, chanted “shame on you”.