Brittany Vonow and Richard Wheatstone, The Sun, July 11, 2019
Tommy Robinson fan attacked a BBC film crew while supporters hurled smoke bombs after the EDL founder was jailed for nine months today.
Robinson called for protests after he was found to have “encouraged mob rule” when he breached a reporting restriction to live-stream a video outside a child grooming trial.
And far-right protesters set EU flags on fire and hurled bottles at police as ugly scenes erupted outside the Old Bailey this afternoon after Robinson was jailed for contempt of court.
As he was caged, the ex-EDL leader told his fans: “Sentenced to prison for journalism.
“Time for protests to start, this is an absolute joke! Protest outside whatever prison I’m in on Saturday please.”
He added: “Hopefully by this Saturday, I’m laying there in my cell and I can just hear all your voices outside whichever s***hole HMP I’m in.
“Just want to say to everyone I appreciate whilst I’m in there I know people will be fighting for me. But I’ll be fine in there.”
Last week, a two-day hearing at the Old Bailey had found the 36-year-old jeopardised the grooming trial by live-streaming men accused of the sexual exploitation of young girls on Facebook, in breach of a reporting ban, outside Leeds Crown Court in May 2018.
But as the judge’s decision filtered to Robinson’s supporters outside, they could be heard screaming “We want Tommy out” and “you know it’s wrong”.
Hundreds of far-right supporters then started an unplanned march through London’s streets towards the Houses of Parliament.
There, one furious protester was seen swinging a pole at BBC news crews covering the rally.
Clashing with police, protesters were heard chanting “paedo protectors” and “you’re not English anymore” at officers. And another was seen burning an EU flag as tempers flared and terrified tourists were herded into Westminster Abbey.
Furious protesters clashed on the streets during the rally, with footage emerging of a Muslim woman in a head dress outside of Parliament telling them “I live here too”.
But the thugs can be heard shouting “Islam out of the UK” back at her.
City of London Police confirmed eight people had been arrested at today’s protests on suspicion of offences committed during last week’s protests.
Four men, 34, 44, 52 and 60 were arrested for affray, on Friday last week.
Today, a woman aged 28, and two men aged 60 and 50 were arrested for affray. A 61-year-old woman was arrested for a public order offence.
Robinson’s sentence will see him serve about two and a half months in prison as he has already served ten weeks and he will be released on licence halfway through his jail term.
His sentence was made up of six months for the Leeds contempt, plus three months for an earlier contempt committed at Canterbury Crown Court in 2017.
Inside court, Robinson reportedly flashed a V for Victory sign to the public gallery and winked as the judge’s decision was handed down.
Sentencing Robinson, Dame Victoria Sharp scolded him for having “lied about a number of matters”
She said: “We are in no doubt that the custody threshold is passed in this case. The main purpose of the penalty is punishment and deterrence – and the court’s determination to uphold the rule of law.”
She said that the purpose of sentencing for contempt was “punishment and deterrence” of Robinson, adding: “The court is also concerned to demonstrate its determination to uphold the rule of law.”
But Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, today remained defiant, arriving for today’s court appearance in a shirt reading “Convicted of Journalism” and in paint-splattered jeans.
Sentenced to prison for journalism. Time for protests to start, this is an absolute joke
The back of his shirt read “Britain = North Korea” while he wore a badge with the slogan “I support soldiers A-Z”.
He had been lambasted by the judge as he walked into court ten minutes late for today’s sentencing.
Robinson’s barrister Richard Furlong apologised for his late arrival, saying he had been delayed by the “number of people outside who are here to support him”.
But Dame Sharp told him “it’s not a great start”.
After deliberating for about an hour, Dame Sharp said in sentencing: “The respondent (Robinson) cannot be given credit for pleading guilty.
“He has lied about a number of matters and sought to portray himself as the victim of unfairness and oppression.
“This does not increase his sentence, but it does mean that there can be no reduction for an admission of guilt.”
Robinson has 28 days to lodge an appeal.
Katie Hopkins was among those to support Robinson today, pictured hugging him before he walked inside.
Giving reasons for the decision 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.
The judge said the words he used in the video would have been understood by viewers as “an incitement” to harass the defendants and “gave rise to a real risk the course of justice would be seriously impeded”.
Throughout the Old Bailey hearing, Robinson denied any wrongdoing, saying he did not believe he was breaching reporting restrictions and only referred to information that was already in the public domain.
But Dame Victoria and Mr Justice Warby found he was in contempt by breaching the reporting restriction imposed on the trial, by live-streaming the video from outside the public entrance to the court and by “aggressively confronting and filming” some of the defendants.
Robinson, from Luton, Bedfordshire, broadcast the footage while the jury in the second of a series of linked grooming trials was considering its verdict.
The video was eventually viewed 3.4 million times after being shared following his arrest.
A reporting restriction was in place which postponed the publication of any details of the case until the end of all the trials involving 29 people, in a bid to ensure all defendants received a fair trial.
Robinson was jailed for 13 months after being found in contempt of court on the day of the broadcast.
He served two months in jail before being freed after the original finding of contempt was overturned by the Court of Appeal in August 2018.
But the case was then referred back to the Attorney General, who announced in March that it was in the public interest to bring fresh proceedings against Robinson. Dame Victoria and Mr Justice Warby gave permission for the Attorney General to bring a new case against Robinson at a hearing in May.
Anyone found in contempt of court can be jailed for up to two years, receive an unlimited fine, or both.