Tommy Robinson caged for Facebook Live stunt outside court that jeopardised trial
Tommy Robinson has been caged for 13 months after his Facebook Live publicity stunt outside Leeds Crown Court broke contempt of court laws.
The far-right activist and founder of the English Defence League streamed an hour-long video outside the court last Friday which was watched over 250,000 within hours.
Comments made in the video had the potential to cause a retrial in a long-running case as a judge told him his actions may cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds'.
At the time of the incident, jurors were in the process of considering verdicts after hearing six weeksâ of evidence.
A court order is currently in place temporarily banning any reporting on the trial, including its status as ongoing, so the press will not be able to reveal details until later this year.
And a court order had also been in place temporarily banning any reporting on Robinson's arrest and sentencing hearing, but LeedsLive has now revealed the details.
A court order temporarily banned any mention of Robinson's court proceedings but LeedsLive challenged the order and today the judge agreed to lift the reporting restriction in regards to Robinson's case.
Robinson, of Oakley Rise, Wilstead, Bedford, filmed himself as he read out the defendants' names and the charges they face - some of which were wrong - and confronted them as they arrived at court.
Eventually, the 35-year-old was arrested on suspicion of a breach of the peace and was held in the court cells before being taken up to the courtroom to face the trial judge.< p>In a rare move, he was arrested, charged and sentenced within five hours.
The video footage was played to Judge Geoffrey Marson QC as Robinson sat in the dock.
The judge said: âHe referred to the charges that the defendants faced and some charges which are not proceeded against in relation to some defendants.â
Robinson, whose criminal record dates back to 2005, has a previous conviction for contempt of court.
He was the subject of a suspended prison sentence, imposed at Canterbury Crown Court in Kent, after he filmed in court.
He also has convictions for disobeying a court order, possessing identity documents with intent, fraud, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, possessing drugs and threatening behaviour.
He pleaded guilty to contempt of court and breach of a suspended sentence.
Matthew Harding, mitigating, said his client felt "deep regret" after realising the potential consequences of his actions.
He said Robinson was aware of the reporting restriction in place in the case but thought what he was saying on camera was already in the public domain.
The barrister added: "He was mindful, having spoken to others and taken advice, not to say things that he thought would actually prejudice these proceedings."
He did not try to cause difficulties for the court process."
Mr Harding said Robinson had been the victim of assaults while serving time in prison before and there had been "a price on his head" during his last prison term with inmates being offered the reward of drugs and mobile phones to kill him.
But the judge said: âNo one could possibly conclude that it would be anything other than highly prejudicial to the defendants in the trial.
âI respect everyoneâs right to free speech. Thatâs one of the mo st important rights that we have.
âWith those rights come responsibilities. The responsibility to exercise that freedom of speech within the law.
âI am not sure you appreciate the potential consequence of what you have done.
âIf the jurors in my present trial get to know of this video I will no doubt be faced with an application to discharge the jury.
âIf I have to do that it will mean a re-trial, costing hundreds and hundreds and thousands of pounds.â
A re-trial would also mean witnesses in the case would have to face the ordeal of giving evidence again before a jury.
The judge added: âYou have to understand we are not preventing publication. We are postponing publication to ensure that the trial is fair.
âWhen people are convicted and given long sentences, it is on a proper basis and not a conviction that can be overturned.
âIt is a serious feature that you were encouraging others to share what you were streaming live on social media.â
Jailing the married father-of-three, the judge said: âPeople have to understand that if they breach court orders there will be very real consequences.â
Robinson founded the English Defence League in Luton in 2009 before resigning in 2013.
The organisation was responsible for violent marches on the streets where members clashed with police and counter-demonstrators.
West Yorkshire Police refused to comment on Robinson's arrest.
Robinson turned up in Scotland in March when he was spotted at an Airdrie game.
The far-right activist appeared at the Lanarkshire sideâs 2-2 draw against Alloa Athletic after travelling north to Scotland to support a ' ;Nazi dog' bigot who was appearing in court.
Robinson was in Scotland to support Mark Meechan, 30, who was convicted of a hate crime after recording pug Buddha responding to statements such as âgas the Jewsâ and âSieg Heilâ by raising its paw during footage that appeared online.
The former EDL chief also hit the headlines in Scotland during the trial of a Celtic fan last year after Kasey Mackinnon confronted the former EDL chief.
A court was told the 18-year-old had been âled astrayâ before he joined a group of Celtic fans in challenging Robinson.
And Mackinnon ended up beaten and bruised after bursting into a shop in Sunderland where Robinson â" who had taunted earlier Celtic fans while wearing a Rangers top in an online video â" was signing books.
The showdown happened at an off-licence in Sunderland on the day of a pre-season friendly between Celtic and the Championship side in July last year.
Mackinnon, of Glasgow, later admitted using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour and criminal damage.
He was given a conditional discharge and an order banning him from attending Celtic or Scotland football matches in England and Wales for three years.Source: Google News