Gareth Davies, Telegraph, August 1, 2018
Former English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson has been freed from prison after winning his challenge against a contempt of court finding.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and two other judges in London quashed a finding of contempt made against Robinson at Leeds Crown Court in May when he was sentenced to 13 months in jail.
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon — left HMP Onley in Rugby, Warwickshire, on Wednesday afternoon.
He was collected and driven away by two of his supporters while he was flanked by two men carrying his luggage.
Announcing the decision on Wednesday, Lord Burnett said the court was allowing his appeal “in respect of the committal for contempt at Leeds Crown Court”.
He added: “The appellant is granted bail and the matter of contempt at Leeds Crown Court is remitted to be heard again.”
The judges had been urged to overturn two contempt of court findings against the 35-year-old made at Leeds Crown Court and at Canterbury Crown Court.
Supporters in the packed courtroom broke into a round of applause as Lord Burnett announced the decision. A date for a new hearing has yet to be announced.
Robinson was not present for the ruling and members of his legal team are believed to have gone to Onley Prison, near Rugby, to brief him about the court ruling in anticipation of his release.
Lord Burnett, giving reasons for the Court of Appeal’s decision relating to the Leeds Crown Court allegation, said that once Robinson “had removed the video from Facebook there was no longer sufficient urgency to justify immediate proceedings”.
The court agreed that the judge at Leeds should not have commenced contempt proceedings that day.
Lord Burnett said that “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”.
“We are satisfied that the finding of contempt made in Leeds following a fundamentally flawed process, in what we recognise were difficult and unusual circumstances, cannot stand. We will direct that the matter be reheard before a different judge,” Lord Burnett said.
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.”
About 25 Robinson supporters had gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice by the time the ruling was made.
They cheered when news of the decision filtered through. A similar number of people staged a “Stand Up To Racism” protest.
The two groups were separated by a line of police and exchanged chants.
At a hearing in July, his QC Jeremy Dein argued that procedural “deficiencies” had given rise to “prejudice”.
Mr Dein also submitted that the sentence was “manifestly excessive” and that “insufficient” regard had been given to personal mitigation.
Robinson was jailed in May after he filmed people involved in a criminal trial and broadcast the footage on social media.
The footage, lasting around an hour, was watched 250,000 times within hours of being posted on Facebook.
The far-right activist was given 10 months for contempt of court, which he admitted, and a further three months for breaching a previous suspended sentence.
Robinson was detained outside Leeds Crown Court after using social media to broadcast details of a trial which is subject to blanket reporting restrictions.
It was the second time Robinson had breached court orders, having narrowly avoided jail in May last year over footage he filmed during the trial of four men who were later convicted of gang-raping a teenage girl.