What is happening with Tommy Robinson?

On May 25th outside the court in Leeds, Tommy Robison was arrested on a breach of the peace offence. In less than five hours he had been charged with contempt of court and sentenced to thirteen months in prison. Of course, there was public outcry and quite rightly so because there was so much that simply did not add up in that conviction. He knew he was on a suspended sentence and if you watched the full one hour fifteen minutes of his Livestream you would have seen how meticulously careful he was not to breach that suspended sentence. They got him anyway though. So what did he actually do…

Well, twelve months before Tommy had gone into a court and filmed defendants in a grooming case, filming in a court, not just the courtroom but anywhere within the court grounds is a contempt of court offence. He obviously did not know that but was dragged before Judge Norton charged with contempt of court and he pleaded guilty because he was; there was no denying that he filmed within the court. The judge sentenced him to three months, suspended for eighteen months. So twelve months later he went to Leeds court but was deliberate in his efforts not to step one foot on court property. He thought he was safe to do that and even had this clarified by police present at the court on a couple of occasions whilst he was Livestreaming. I have to say it was a pretty boring video to watch but unlike the judge who sentenced him, I did actually bother to look at all the evidence and to be honest I was looking critically to see if I could spot where he had slipped up but I could not see where he said or did anything that could even come close to justifying what Judge Marson QC said in court.

“No one could possibly conclude that it would be anything other than highly prejudicial to the defendants’ in the trial.”…

Mmmm, no, as I said I watched it and could not see how that could be the case, he filmed defendants that were already fully recognisable to the jurors who were apparently there that day to announce the verdict, which would have been followed by sentencing but as some have argued that the jury was still deliberating then they would not have been aware of Tommy outside the court Livestreaming because they cannot use the net whilst deliberating, they would end up in prison themselves for doing that. I am not wholly convinced the jury was even there because in the video Tommy clearly asked one of the defendants what did they think of the verdict. So for me, nothing that Tommy did would have been deemed highly prejudicial to the defendants’ in the trial. I can almost hear the screams of “but he pleaded guilty to the contempt of court charge you dimwit”, well if Tommy’s defence barrister pointed out that the judge did not need to prove intent as he could use strict liability to avoid the mens rea, this would have put Tommy in a position where no matter what he said, he would be found guilty and convicted. I suspect this is what happened and Tommy pleaded guilty knowing full well it would mean he would get a lesser sentence. Unfortunately, that is how the law actually works and I for one am not a great fan of plea bargaining, it generally means that guilty people get lesser sentences than innocent people who cannot prove their own case. The judge also said…

“If the jurors in my present trial get to know of this video I will no doubt be faced with an application to discharge the jury.”

Sorry but I do not buy that one either, not simply because of the reasons given above but the defendants turned up carrying prison bags, so it was obvious they were expecting to be sentenced that day and even if the defence had tried to motion for a mistrial at that stage of the proceedings, no judge would have ever have accepted it. He went on to say it would have cost the courts hundreds of thousands of pounds… Which seems a little over dramatic and I look forward to finding out what truly happened that day once the reporting restrictions are over. Another concerning factor with that statement though is if the judge was really so convinced that the Livestream was so dangerous to the proceedings of his case, if he truly believed it enough to send a man to prison for it, then why was the offending video not instantly removed? The judge has the power to do that and if it was so damning you would have thought he would be legally bound to ensure it was removed, after all, he had just sentenced a man to thirteen months in prison based on his own belief that the video could ‘Substantially’ impede or prejudice an ongoing case (that is the criteria requirement if the judge did use strict liability). Maybe the judge just forgot but even the third trial is still ongoing and that video is still there for all to see. That to me is the most damning evidence that there has been a miscarriage of justice in the conviction of Tommy Robinson. However, there are so many things with that particular case that really do not sit easy with me.

For example, look at the original case, he did film inside a court building and was guilty of the offence and he got sentenced to three months, suspended. Then he gets charged again but did not film inside the court building and got ten months, does that seem a little excessive? It certainly does when you look at the George Galloway v Aisha Ali-Khan case where she pleaded guilty to twenty-six counts of contempt of court and got just twelve weeks.

Then there is also an issue with the judgement transcript not being released for public scrutiny and as it was a public court where he was convicted of contempt of court and in regards to open justice that transcript should have been on the judiciary website for all to see almost immediately, this is actually set out in the practice directions below if anyone wants to check. From what I can see they certainly have not been followed and funnily enough whenever I have questioned this particular point, I have been greeted with a wall of silence. Hence my dented faith.


Now, of course this will be read by many who think, well it is Tommy Robinson so he deserves it but before chastising me for defending him, just take him out of the equation altogether, imagine this has happened to Mr X and then consider if Mr X has been treated in a fair and just manner by our legal system, personally I think he has not and there are certainly enough reasons there that make me believe he has been sent to prison unjustly and that brings me onto another worrying factor in all of this. If I, as a mere student of law can look at this Tommy Robinson case and find flaws, then what exactly are his legal team doing? I am actually surprised, especially with the price on his head in prison; he was not released within 48 hours. I did hear that an appeal had been launched and was due on July 10th, I have to admit I have seen no evidence of it being listed anywhere, which does make me doubt it was listed. I had serious concerns about Rebel Media’s involvement the moment they decided to champion this cause, partly because George who was with Tommy on the day of his arrest and was filming as well by the way because they took Tommy’s phone off him, he suddenly popped up in Canada the following day after Tommy was sentenced. Then there is the fact that the last video I watched of Rebel Media was Ezra telling all about how he was being blackmailed, so I really do not have a lot of faith there at all but that is not my most serious concern of all…

This is… I am doing a law degree because I do believe in the judicial system, though I admit this case with Tommy Robinson has certainly dented that faith. I believe we have the greatest system of law in the world and yet I worry that the image of the judiciary is currently taking a beating, at a time when we seriously do not need that to happen and it appears that some are more than happy to see it happen. Secret Barrister may think she is witty when referring to people as knuckle draggers but that is seriously not helping the situation one iota and we need to seriously start improving the image of the judiciary to regain respect rather than contempt.

For me, Law is the thread that holds the very fabric of a society together and not just here in the UK but many countries in the Western world, that thread is seriously starting to fray. If people lose faith in the judicial system then civil unrest will quickly follow and I am sure that the EU would like nothing more than to see civil unrest in Britain, once we leave the European Union. Which contrary to what some may say we are leaving, it is going to happen. and when it does our politicians will no longer be middlemen to the EU, UK law will once again be supreme and it will become a whole new chapter for Britain. We need to rebuild the people’s faith in Britain’s capabilities and that will only be hindered if people start to lose faith in parliament and the judiciary. So I urge those with the legal and political knowledge to look at these cases like Tommy Robinson’s with an open mind, use the Mr X idea to analyse the case and start questioning things that do not add up, use the law for what it was intended so that we can rebuild a safe society because the alternative is seriously not worth considering.

Marty Caine