High Court judges have given the go-ahead for fresh contempt of court proceedings to be brought against Tommy Robinson.
The former English Defence League leader, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, faces an allegation he committed contempt by filming people in a criminal trial and broadcasting footage on social media.
Two judges gave permission for a new case to be brought against him at the Old Bailey in London today, following an application by the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC.
Andrew Caldecott QC, for the Attorney General, told judges Cox had considered representations made on behalf of Robinson but “remains of the view that it is strongly in the public interest” that the application against him should proceed.
Robinson was jailed for 13 months in May last year after he filmed people involved in a criminal trial at Leeds Crown Court and broadcast the footage on social media.
But a contempt finding made against Robinson was quashed by the Court of Appeal in August and he was freed from prison after serving two months of his sentence.
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.
The 36-year-old, from Luton, could be sent back to jail if he is again found in contempt, which carries a maximum sentence of two years.
Caldecott told judges today the Attorney General considers Robinson’s conduct during the Leeds Crown Court trial is of “great concern”.
He told the court that in one part of the broadcast, Robinson said of a defendant: “Harass him, find him, go knock on his door, follow him, see where he works, see what he’s doing.”
In another passage, Caldecott said Robinson discussed how his video would be shared and “hopefully millions” of people would see it.
The barrister said: “The Attorney General is extremely concerned that conduct of the kind, particularly in those two passages seen in the context of the wider video, should in any way be considered as acceptable.”
Caldecott said that, in a witness statement, Robinson was “plainly contending that his behaviour towards the defendants was lawful”.
He told the court Robinson also said he searched online for guidelines on reporting restrictions before his broadcast and had undergone media training after an earlier contempt finding was made against him at Canterbury Crown Court.
The barrister said it was “unfortunate” that the history of the case was “prolonged” and accepted it had caused increased stress for Robinson.
However, he said the matters complained of involved important issues and there were also “policy reasons” for the case to go ahead.
Lady Justice Sharp said permission would be given for fresh proceedings to go ahead on all grounds.
She said reasons for the decision would be given at a later date, and the full hearing will be on 4 and 5 July at the Old Bailey.
Crowds gathered outside court ahead of the hearing in support of Robinson, who is standing for election as an MEP for the North West region in the European elections later this month, alongside a counter demonstration organised by Stand Up To Racism.
After the court’s decision was announced, the crowd booed and chanted “shame on you”.
Speaking outside the court, Robinson thanked his supporters and asked them to return for the next hearing.
He added: “I will not apologise for stating facts.”
Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog