Tommy Robinson sent back to jail for contempt of court

11 July 2019, 12:05 | Updated: 11 July 2019, 14:09

Tommy Robinson has been sent back to jail for contempt of court over an online broadcast featuring defendants in a criminal trial.

The English Defence League founder, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was handed a nine month sentence at the Old Bailey, but will only spend 10 weeks behind bars.

His previous time in prison for the same offence saw the sentence reduced to 19 weeks, and the far-right activist will be released after serving half of it.

Despite the shortened term, supporters of the 36-year-old who had assembled outside the court reacted angrily, which resulted in violent clashes with police.

After his sentence was announced, Robinson posted a message on his Telegram account and dismissed the judgement as a "joke" and urged his fans to protest "outside whatever prison I'm in on Saturday".

In her sentencing remarks, Dame Victoria Sharp told Robinson, of Luton in Bedfordshire, that "nothing less than a custodial penalty would properly reflect the gravity of the conduct we have identified".

She also said he had "lied about a number of matters" and that he had wrongly "sought to portray himself as the victim of unfairness and oppression".

Upon his arrival at the court alongside right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins, Robinson told Sky News he was "being sent to jail for doing what you do" and that his impending sentence was "illegal".

He wore a shirt emblazoned with the messages "convicted of journalism" and "Britain = North Korea".

Robinson denied any wrongdoing throughout the trial, seemingly unaware of the meaning of contempt of court, which is designed to ensure fair criminal trials.

Anyone can be found in contempt if they are deemed to have created a "substantial risk" of prejudice against a suspect, with juries not allowed to be influenced by anything other than the evidence heard in court.

The case against Robinson came after he filmed a group of men from a Huddersfield grooming gang who were accused of sex offences against young girls in May 2018.

He also streamed the footage from outside Leeds Crown Court to Facebook to more than 250,000 viewers, which was in breach of a reporting ban, and the video was eventually viewed 3.4 million times.

His actions meant the defendants could have been released and the trial restarted, and he could have received up to two years in jail or an unlimited fine.

He was originally sentenced to 13 months in jail last summer, but he only served two months after the contempt finding was overturned and he was released.

But the case was referred back to Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, whose decision to cite public interest in bringing fresh proceedings against Robinson was approved by High Court judges back in May.

He was found to have committed contempt during a two-day hearing earlier this month.

Mr Cox said the latest sentencing "serves to illustrate how seriously the courts will take matters of contempt".

Ahead of the hearing, Robinson asked Donald Trump to grant him asylum in the US.

He told Sky News outside the court that he wanted to move because people there "were behind him".

Robinson made the request during an interview with right-wing conspiracy theory channel InfoWars, telling the website he felt like he was "two days away from being sentenced to death in the UK".