September 13, 2019
Far-right activist claims he was held in isolation for his own protection in Belmarsh
Tommy Robinson released from jail after nine weeks
Tommy Robinson has been released from jail after serving nine weeks of a nine-month sentence for seriously interfering with the administration of justice.
Supporters of Robinson – who has become a focal point for rightwing extremists – have caused serious disorder in recent months while chanting songs demanding his release. While in prison, the far-right activist claimed to have been sent 14 sacks of mail from supporters.
Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was imprisoned again in July after “aggressively confronting and filming” defendants accused of the sexual exploitation of young girls and livestreaming the footage outside Leeds crown court on Facebook while the jury was considering its verdict in 2018, in breach of a reporting ban. It put the case against the defendants at risk of collapse.
Outside Belmarsh prison in south London on Friday, Robinson – who grew a beard while in jail – claimed to have been held in isolation for his own protection at the maximum security jail.
“I have walked into Belmarsh prison and walked back out without seeing another prisoner,” he told supporters and the media. “They would have [killed me].”
Reports this week revealed he would be released early, with the prominent supporter and far-right commentator Katie Hopkins declaring: “What I really get from him is the sense that the fight goes on and he is clearly very motivated to get back out to tell other people’s stories on the streets of the UK.”
At the time of the incident for which he was jailed this year, the former leader of the English Defence League was said to be working as a journalist for the controversial Canadian online channel Rebel Media.
He was accused of attempting to stir division and racial hatred, with the video viewed online 250,000 times. He had also approached defendants and told his followers to “harass them”.
Robinson, 36, from Luton in Bedfordshire, denied any wrongdoing and said he had only referred to information that was already in the public domain.
Speaking after the sentencing, Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general, said: “Today’s sentencing of Yaxley-Lennon serves to illustrate how seriously the courts will take matters of contempt.
“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.”
Robinson has a number of previous convictions for violence, public order offences, fraud and disobeying of court orders, some of which he served prison sentences for.
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