EDL founder Tommy Robinson jailed after breaching contempt of court laws

The former leader of the English Defence League (EDL) has been jailed for 13 months after breaching court orders for a second time.

Tommy Robinson, who was listed on court documents by his real name Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, was detained outside Leeds Crown Court on Friday after using social media to broadcast details of an ongoing trial which is subject to blanket reporting restrictions.

A judge told him his actions could cause the ongoing trial to be re-run, costing "hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds".

Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson

In footage which was played to the court on Friday, the 35-year-old, of Oakley Rise, Wilstead, Bedfordshire, was seen filming himself and people involved in the trial.

The court heard how the footage, which supposedly lasted around an hour, had been watched 250,000 times within hours of being posted online via Facebook.

The right-wing activist was given 10 months in jail for contempt of court, and a further three months for beaching a previous suspended sentence.

It is the second time he has committed the offence after previously being told he was on a "knife edge" when he was sentenced in May 2017 for trying to film four men accused of gang-raping a teenage girl who were standing trial at Canterbury Crown Court on May 8 that year.

Sentencing him to three months jail, suspended for 18 months, Judge Norton last year said: "There are notices all over the court building making it clear that filming or taking photographs is an offence and may be a contempt of court."

However, Judge Norton chose not to jail Robinson telling him it was not about "freedom of speech or freedom of the press" but his sentence was about "justice and ensuring that a trial can be carried out justly and fairly, and ensuring that a jury is not in any way inhibited in carrying out its important function."

Reporting restrictions had initially been in place preventing the media from reporting his latest conviction, but these were lifted following a legal challenge on Tuesday.

During Friday's hearing Matthew Harding, defending, claimed that his client had "deep regret" for what he had done.

"He was mindful, having spoken to others and taken advice, not to say things that he thought would actually prejudice these proceedings," Mr Harding said.

"He did not try to cause difficulties for the court process."

Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: "Not only was it a very long video, but I regard it as a serious aggravating feature that he was encouraging others to share it and it had been shared widely.

"That is the nature of the contempt.

"He referred to the charges that the defendants faced and some charges which are not proceeded against in relation to some defendants."

The judge also claimed that "nothing may occur" to prejudice the trial, adding: "He (Robinson) was expressing his views.

"Everyone understands the right to freedom of speech but there are responsibilities and obligations."

Addressing Robinson, who sat in the dock during the hearing, Judge Marson said: "I am not sure you appreciate the potential consequence of what you have done.

"People have to understand that if they breach court orders there will be very real consequences."

- PA


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