October 23, 2018
Judge says former EDL leader’s contempt case will be heard in proper adversarial setting
Tommy Robinson: judge refers case to attorney general
A judge retrying the anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson for contempt of court has referred the case to the attorney general.
Robinson, 35, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, appeared before Nicholas Hilliard, the recorder of London, for a contempt hearing at the Old Bailey.
Hilliard said the decision to refer the case to the attorney general would allow Robinson’s contempt charges to be heard in a proper adversarial setting, in which a lawyer could present evidence and question witnesses to make the case.
He said he had made the decision after receiving a statement from Robinson on Monday. The court heard that in the current setting lawyers would not be able to perform an appropriate cross-examination of the evidence.
“I think it necessary to look at quite a lot of the detail of what Mr Yaxley-Lennon said in the broadcast [featuring the alleged contempt] as to come to the overall picture as to what happened,” Hilliard said.
“I’m satisfied in the light of the issues as they now appear, as they emerged from the statement of yesterday, that cross-examination of Mr Yaxley-Lennon is necessary for a proper and thorough examination and resolution of the case that is in the public interest.”
Robinson was released on bail. He had been serving a 13-month sentence on the same charges until the sentence was quashed by the court of appeal and a retrial ordered.
The former leader of the English Defence League could have been sent back to jail if he had been found in contempt for filming people in a criminal trial in Leeds and broadcasting the footage on social media.
The latest hearing came after Robinson appeared at the Old Bailey in September, when the case was adjourned. Among Robinson’s supporters in court was Ezra Levant, the founder of the Canadian rightwing Rebel Media news website. He brought with him several “honest journalists”, crowdfunded by supporters, to provide alternative coverage of the hearing after claims that traditional media were biased.
Speaking to supporters outside the Old Bailey, Robinson said the campaign to free him from prison had been funded by the Middle East Forum, an American anti-Islam thinktank.
“The intention of this imprisonment was to prevent the public having knowledge,” he said. “I want to spend the next six months travelling to towns that have been blighted by these problems. By next summer the entire world is going to learn the true extent of the rape of Britain.”
Earlier, around 1,000 supporters gathered outside the Old Bailey. As journalists walked past to enter through the main entrance of England’s main criminal court, Robinson branded them “enemies of the people”, to roars and cheers from the crowd.
Metropolitan police and their colleagues from the City of London stood at barricades outside the court. England and union flags, as well as those for Ukip, were flying as protesters gathered early on Tuesday morning.
“We want Tommy out,” they shouted as they filmed him on their phones and patted him on the back. A small group of anti-fascist campaigners faced Robinson’s supporters.
After last month’s adjournment, a video was posted on Levant’s Twitter account appearing to show Robinson at a window inside the court building. In the footage, Robinson says “that’s such a good feeling” before promising to go and greet the chanting supporters outside.
Section 41 of the Criminal Justice act 1925 makes it an offence to photograph people within court precincts.
City of London police have said they are looking into whether any offences were committed at Robinson’s September court appearance.
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