British far-right activist jailed for contempt of court

Tommy Robinson arriving at court

The ex-English Defence League leader was found guilty last week of interfering with the trial of a sexual grooming gang at Leeds Crown Court in May 2018.

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".

The English Defence League (EDL) founder, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was handed a nine-month sentence at the Old Bailey on Thursday as he was branded a "liar" by the judge.

Police were then pelted with cans and plastic bottles as the group began chanting "we want Tommy out".

Why what Tommy Robinson did was put Tommy first - what we did was put the victims firstDame Victoria Sharp told Robinson that the time he previously spent behind bars for the contempt will be taken into account, reducing his sentence to 19 weeks - of which he will serve half before being released.

She said that the objective of sentencing for contempt was "punishment and deterrence of the contemnor", adding: "The court is also concerned to demonstrate its determination to uphold the rule of law".

Giving reasons for the decision on Tuesday, Dame Victoria said Robinson encouraged "vigilante action" in the video, which lasted an hour-and-a-half and was viewed online 250,000 times on the morning of the broadcast.

The judges also rejected claims by Yaxley-Lennon that he had made checks in the court about reporting restrictions.

Robinson and his lawyer, Richard Furlong, have argued however that he had only provided information that was already in the public domain.

Outside court, his supporters gathered at a double-decker bus blocking the street at the the Ludgate Hill end.

However, Robinson, 36, from Luton, broadcast footage from outside the court on 25 May 2018, while the jury in the second trial of the series was considering its verdict.

By aggressively confronting and filming some of the defendants in that case as they arrived at court, he interfered with the course of justice.

The video was eventually viewed 3.4 million times after being shared following his arrest.

The case was subject to blanket temporary reporting restrictions under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 to avoid a "substantial risk of prejudice" to the trial, which involved multiple defendants and was linked to other linked proceedings.

Robinson was jailed for 13 months previous year and was released from prison upon appeal and resentenced today for nine months.

A retrial was ordered after Robinson appealed the sentence with the lord chief justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, saying the ruling was "flawed".

Robinson arrived late to court proceedings wearing a shirt emblazoned with the slogan "convicted of journalism".

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