Rather too few papers have been discussing the trouble Tommy Robinson got into over the past few days. Not a good good look for free speech nor even civil liberty. And yet now we’ve got the news of Tommy’s jailing, along with the reason he was jugged. It’s possibly a little different. At which point you be the judge of what you think should have happened.
ENGLISH Defence League founder Tommy Robinson has been caged for 13 months for contempt of court, it can be revealed today.
The 35-year-old far right-wing activist had been arrested last week after streaming an hour-long rant outside Leeds Crown Court.
It wasn’t breach of the peace – that was just the arrest, not the charge he was actually tried for.
EDL leader-turned independent journalist Tommy Robinson was jailed for 13 months on Friday. Leeds Crown Court blocked the media from publishing anything about Robinson’s imprisonment via reporting restrictions.
Robinson was on a suspended sentence, as he had previously been arrested for contempt of court after filming outside Canterbury Crown Court in May.
The reporting restriction prevented the publication of any content to do with Robinson’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment. The Independent, however, successfully appealed the reporting restriction on Tuesday.
We are all now allowed to talk about it, rather than being rather restrictive in what we say as we were.
Standing in the street and filming something which then goes on Facebook and the like is not normally an arrestable offence. And if doing so outside a courtroom were then the BBC and ITV and…well, lots of people actually – would be in serious trouble.
The thought that there was some other, deeper, reason for the arrest is what is motivating this.
That deeper reason being:
The English Defence League founder was then taken before a judge who then jailed him for 13 months after Robinson pleaded guilty to contempt of court.
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC told him his actions may cause the retrial of a long-running trial, costing taxpayers ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’.
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: ‘You have to understand we are not preventing publication. We are postponing publication to ensure that the trial is fair.
‘It is a serious feature that you were encouraging others to share what you were streaming live on social media.’
No, that’s really not a good thing to have been doing:
He had named defendants in the case, the charges they face and details of the allegations, as well as filming defendants and confronting them outside court.
A strict order is currently in place temporarily banning publication or broadcasting details of the long-running case or anyone involved.
There is actually a damn good reason not to publish all of that right now. No, I ain’t gonna commit contempt by saying why either.
He said Robinson had been aware of the reporting restriction in place in the case but thought what he was saying on camera was already in the public domain.
This is not therefore, perhaps at least, quite what some might think it is. Even those I like and admire on near all matters.
A trial is going on. For good reason (sorry, need to trust me on that) there are reporting restrictions in place over what can be said about it. The underlying point being that without such restrictions there is a danger that a fair trial might not be possible.
And yes, everyone does deserve a fair trial. The worse the crime accused of the more important the fairness of the trial is too. The more despised, the more societal prejudice against, the defendants, the greater the importance of that fairness and seen to be fair.
At which point it really is up to you to be the judge here. For that’s what the legal system is, in the end, us policing ourselves.
Someone jugged for talking about a trial? Bit off to a sinister oppression of a truth speaker to power. Contempt of court as a result of potentially prejudicing a fair trial – having been warned off doing so?
Hey, your choice here.
A rather deeper legal explanation can be found here.