By now everyone will have heard of Tommy Robinson and him being jailed over what he did at Leeds Crown Court.
For those who may not be familiar with the case I will explain.
Mr Robinson has taken it on himself to report on Muslim grooming gangs in the UK. He does it by live streaming on Facebook where he has over 800.000 followers. Quite a few of his followers will turn up at the trials of the men caught grooming underage girls and while Tommy live feeds they will shout abuse as the men turn up for their trials.
There is nothing wrong with reporting these trials. However it has to be done in a responsible way which does not in any shape or form harm the fair trial of the defendants after all, we in the UK are innocent until proven guilty. Even if you might think a defendant is guilty it counts for nothing because the prosecution must first prove that the defendant is guilty to the jury of the defendants peers, twelve decent citizens who will have to sit depending on how serious the crime is for perhaps a day but sometimes for weeks where again depending on how serious the crime is they will hear witnesses give evidence. See and hear distressing things that will in many cases live with them until the day they die.
It’s the price we all pay for living in a decent society where everyone is given the chance to be tried in a court of law in the UK instead of standing in front of a judge who will look at the police report and pronounce sentence.
It is the cornerstone our British culture and it is sacrosanct because after all everyone could be accused by anyone of a crime and why should we have to prove we have not committed the crime. In other words OK if you want me off the streets and in jail YOU prove that I have done what you say I have done. And it’s worked for century’s with tweaking the system along the way.
So now we come back to Tommy which by the way is not his actual name. The name he was born with is Stephen Christopher Yaxley Lennon and it’s that name which goes on any court documents which are on quite a few.
He has been convicted and has served 12 months’ imprisonment for assaulting an off-duty police officer.
He has been jailed for 10 months for using someone else’s passport to get into the United States.
And also has previous convictions for drugs offences and public order offences.
In 2009. he was jailed for 18-months for mortgage fraud.
Now we are coming close to why he is now in jail serving a 13 month sentence. on the 8th May 2017 he entered Canterbury high court and began filming a live stream to his followers on Facebook. Now for people who are not from this country I will explain that in the UK we do not allow filming of any kind in our courts. In fact you may have seen many times artists sketches of defendants by artists that are allowed in the court room. What you may not know is the fact that even they cannot sketch the defendants while sitting watching the trial unfold. They have to sketch the impressions off the court premises from memory. So even they are not allowed to paint draw photo film, again it comes down to our willingness to give everyone no matter what crime they may or may have not committed a fair trial without prejudice.
Tommy Robinson ignored all this in his quest to highlight Muslim grooming gangs. Now you may say how can filming someone and reporting about them prejudice a trial. Well I would say to you put yourself in the shoes of one of the jury members. Having done this, now turn on your phone while the court is in recess maybe you are having lunch or have gone to the toilet or even maybe you have now gone home and turn on the computer and somehow you see Tommy Robinson’s live stream and hear and see him talking about the defendants naming them one by one calling them filthy paedophiles and then hear him talk about how the dirty paedophiles could have murdered one or more of the girls even though there is not a shred of evidence that they did or that there were even more girls than are being portrayed in the trial. How would that affect the verdict you will eventually have to give. You are told of course at the end of the trial that you must look only at the evidence presented by the CPS and also by the Defence team. But you have heard and seen someone telling you that the defendant has murdered and there are even more girls. We are only human and those sort of things stick in our mind and when you walk back into the court and the Forman stands you give a guilty verdict. Now it might be the right verdict or it may not you will never actually know because you have not followed the direction of the Judge who has told you that you must only consider the evidence and only the evidence.
Let’s look at what the Judge said to him when he was brought before her when the court officials managed to stop him.
But not before he lived streamed and published film pieces on the internet under a heading which read: ‘Tommy Robinson in Canterbury exposing child rapists. Police help them escape’.
How the Police helped them to escape is actually quite mind boggling as the men were in the court being tried for underage sex offenses and grooming children.
He also referred to the defendants as ‘Muslim child rapists’ and ‘Muslim paedophiles’. That they were is neither here or there in the present climate that we are seeing where people from the Islamic faith or on the streets committing acts of terrorism to refer to them as ‘Muslim child rapists’ and ‘Muslim paedophiles before the trial had ended could have sent the men if they were innocent to jail. Remember we are all innocent until proven with evidence that we are not
Robinson admitted he had come to the court to film the defendants, but was foiled by “the good offices of the court’s security staff” who had alerted the judge.
But now you can see how what he said may have influenced the jury.
Canterbury’s top Judge Heather Norton didn’t mince her words as she told Yaxley-Lennon: “This is not about free speech… not about the freedom of the Press, nor about legitimate journalism, and not about political correctness.
“It is about justice and ensuring that a trial can be carried out justly and fairly. It’s about being innocent until proven guilty.
“It is about preserving the integrity of the jury to continue without people being intimidated. Or being affected by irresponsible and inaccurate “reporting”, if that’s what it was.”
You will now be under no illusions whatsoever as to what you can and cannot do,” she said at the time.
If you commit any further offence of any kind, and that would include a further contempt of court by similar actions, then that sentence of three months would be activated, and that would be on top of anything else that you were given by any other court.”
He then received a three-month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months on the condition he did not commit any more offences. In other words the judge was quite lenient she could have given Yaxley-Lennon a two year prison sentence to be served immediately. Instead she showed restraint and mercy, by giving him a good telling off and then giving a three month sentence to be served if he ever committed this sort of thing again.
Justice was served and was seen to be served.
Yaxley-Lennon went on his way a free man and the four men accused standing in the dock at Canterbury went on to be found guilty.
The jury heard and saw all the evidence and they found the men guilty. The judge sentenced them to a total of 49 years for their attack on a vulnerable 16-year-old. All done without the help of Tommy Robinson and his supporters
The court heard how the girl, who was drunk, had asked the men for directions. But instead of helping her she was taken to a room above a kebab and pizza restaurant in Ramsgate in September and subjected to “a prolonged ordeal of degradation and humiliation”.
Prosecutor Simon Taylor revealed that after pushing the girl onto a mattress, they carried out multiple rapes “and laughed as they put her through the ordeal”.
Shershah Muslimyar, 21, of Hovenden Close, Canterbury, restaurant owner Tamin Rahmani, 38, of Northwood Road, Ramsgate and Rafiullah Hamidy, 24, formerly of High Street, Herne Bay, were each jailed for 14 years.
So now we come to Leeds Crown court one year later.
Here we find Tommy Robinson outside the Leeds crown court along with a few of his followers. Again live streaming to his Facebook page. There is a slight difference in this case though. this time he does not enter the court building instead he stays outside well away from the building. That’s OK then we all see coverage of trials been covered from the outside of the court building don’t we?
However, what we don’t see with the media is them shouting abuse at the defendants as they enter which Tommy and his followers were doing. Responsible reporters don’t do that kind of thing. And besides we also have reporting restrictions going on with complex criminal trials and this one is indeed very complex to say the least.
It’s in three parts. The first part began in January 2018. the second part started in April 2018 and the third part does not start until September 2018 and that is WHY there is a reporting restriction on the case which will be lifted the moment the trials end where every news outlet in the world including Tommy Robinson will be able to report the whole of the trial.
So by again reporting like he does he again put the whole of the trial in jeopardy because again the jury in this trial could be influenced.
So to explain in more detail why he was arrested.
1. Why was Tommy Robinson arrested?
Robinson was arrested outside Leeds Crown Court having video recorded a number of men — including defendants involved in a live trial — entering the court building, and livestreaming the footage on Facebook in what he claimed was an attempt at legitimate court reporting. West Yorkshire police, having been alerted to his activities, arrested Lennon at the scene. The initial reports suggested that he was arrested for a suspected breach of the peace, but what is now clear from the facts published is that his actions in broadcasting details about the trial were in breach of reporting restrictions.
2. What are reporting restrictions?
The starting point of our criminal justice system is that justice must be seen to be done. However the law provides for exceptions to open justice, known generally as “reporting restrictions”. Reporting restrictions apply in a wide range of situations — from automatic restrictions preventing the identification of a complainant in a sexual allegation, to restrictions preventing reporting of Youth Court proceedings, to discretionary restrictions protecting the identity of child witnesses in the adult courts. Further details, if you are interested, can be found. You can read more here https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/reporting-restrictions-guide-may-2016-2.pdf
One breed of restriction order is something called a “postponement order”, under section 4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981. Postponement orders are not unusual, particularly where there are a series of linked trials — for example, where allegations of drug networks involving 30 defendants are concerned, there will be several trials (it not being physically possible to accommodate 30 defendants in a single courtroom). To avoid jurors having their deliberations contaminated by what they might read or hear about the earlier linked trials, reporting of all of them is often postponed until the end. Where there is a separate-but-related issue, such as a contempt of court involving a third party, this can also be the subject of a section 4(2) order. The test is:
Would a fair, accurate and contemporaneous report of the proceedings (or part thereof) published in good faith create a substantial risk of prejudice to the administration of justice in those or other proceedings?
Is an order postponing the publication of such reports necessary and are its terms proportionate? Would such an order eliminate the risk of prejudice to the administration of justice? Could less restrictive measures achieve the objective?
On the specific facts of this case, does the public interest in protecting the administration of justice outweigh the strong public interest in open justice?
This is what we had here. The judge had imposed a postponement order preventing the media from reporting on the ongoing trial until all linked trials had concluded.
Breaching a reporting restriction amounts to a contempt of court. Which is what Yaxley-Lennon admitted doing.
3. But I heard Tommy Robinson was arrested for a breach of the peace. What is a breach of the peace? How is a breach of the peace caused by someone simply filming?
Police officers have common law powers (i.e. powers not set out in statute) to arrest somebody where a breach of the peace is committed or where the officer reasonably believes it will be committed in the immediate future. As to what constitutes a breach of the peace, it is defined in case law as follows: “there is a breach of the peace whenever harm is actually done or is likely to be done to a person or in his presence to his property or a person is in fear of being so harmed through an assault, an affray, a riot, unlawful assembly or other disturbance.” (R v Howell  Q.B. 416) As we can see, it’s a fairly broad definition.
The courts have confirmed that it covers situations where, for example, there are reasonable grounds to fear that a demonstrator or protestor is likely to incite violence, even violence against themselves. This appears to be applicable to the present case. Robinson provocatively filming defendants and streaming on Facebook for the edification of his cult, is the kind of thing which could, it might be argued, lead to a breach of the peace.
Once a person has been arrested for breaching the peace, the police have the power to detain that person where there is a real apprehension that if released they will renew the breach of the peace within a short time, and where the police believe that further detention is necessary to prevent this. Given Robinson’s history of interfering with criminal trials and his defiance towards court orders, one can see why the police may have genuinely feared that he would have simply returned to court if not detained. The power of detention is time-limited — the detainee must be released within 24 hours (if not charged), or for serious (indictable) offences, detention may be authorised up to 96 hours.
4. How can it be legal for somebody to be arrested for breach of the peace and then imprisoned for contempt?
It is perfectly common for a person to be arrested on suspicion of one offence, and then ultimately charged or dealt with for another. In this case, it appears that Yaxley-Lennon was arrested and detained for causing or threatening a breach of the peace, and that the court, upon being made aware of his activities, directed that he be brought to court to be dealt with for contempt of court. Even if his original arrest and detention had been unlawful (and there is nothing at all to suggest that it was), this would have absolutely no bearing on the contempt proceedings. The “breach of the peace” angle is a red herring.
5. So back up a step — what exactly is contempt of court?
Contempt of court is a broad, catch-all term for various offences against the administration of justice. The law(s) of contempt are designed to safeguard the fairness of legal proceedings and to maintain the authority and dignity of the court. Some contempt’s are set out in statute, including the aptly-named Contempt Of Court Act 1981 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/49
This sets out what is referred to as “strict liability contempt” — the rule that it is a contempt to publish any matter which creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice or impediment to the course of justice in legal proceedings, irrespective of the intention behind the publication. There is a defence available to publishers (which includes newspapers, TV and social media users) who can show they were providing “a fair and accurate report of legal proceedings held in public, published contemporaneously and in good faith”, thus giving some latitude to the press and ensuring that the media do not shy away from accurate, factual reporting of criminal proceedings.
Other contempt’s are more eclectic, such as the prohibition on taking photographs or moving images inside a court building (or even drawing a picture — court sketch artists have to draw outside the court from memory as I have stated above https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/15-16/86/section/41
There is also a common law offence of “criminal contempt”, which is defined by the courts as “conduct that denotes wilful defiance of, or disrespect towards the court, or that wilfully challenges or affronts the authority of the court or the supremacy of the law itself.” This might include refusing to answer questions in court, physically disrupting court proceedings, interfering with witnesses or jurors (where not charged as a distinct offence of witness intimidation or perverting the course of justice) or defying a judge’s order.
Which brings us back to Mr Yaxley-Lennon, and a sunny day in May last year at Canterbury Crown Court. And what I have written up above.
People say Mr Yaxley Lennon is not a Racist and they point out to quite a few followers are either Muslim or Black. I would actually disagree in that assumption. We will leave out that he founded the English Defence League which in its self-one of the most violent racist organisations in the Country. No Why I say he is a Racist goes back to what he has been doing. I will again explain,
For years in the UK we have seen many white people in what is now known as Grooming gangs where they groom children for self-gratification. Some of the worst can be seen in both the Catholic church along with the Church of England. White Politian’s also can be seen to be paedophiles, rock stars, white people in the music business, Jimmy Saville was one perhaps the most notable one. Cyril Smith the Liberal MP was another
It’s still going on Whiteman grooming young kids it’s not just Muslim thing it’s a problem across the very fabric of our society. So the question must be asked, why does not Mr Yaxley Lennon go after everyone it would be the most sensible thing to do after all a Paedophile is a Paedophile in any colour or Religion. But he does not does he goes after just one set of people and leaves his own race and religion alone And that in my eyes makes Mr Tommy Robinson/ Mr Yaxley Lennon or whatever name he goes under a Racist.