- Robinson streamed hour-long Facebook Live video outside Leeds Crown Court
- Right-winger was then arrested for breach of peace in film seen by 250,000
- He was brought before judge and pleaded guilty to contempt of court on Friday
- Judge jailed him for 13 months and said actions could cause expensive retrial
- Order banning any reporting on Robinson’s case has been lifted this afternoon
Tommy Robinson is fearful there is a ‘price on his head’ in prison after he was jailed for 13 months for breaking contempt laws when he filmed a Facebook live video outside a court.
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, was held after he live-streamed himself speaking on the steps of Leeds Crown Court last Friday.
The hour-long film, which has been watched more than 250,000 times, shows the extraordinary moment that the 35-year-old was arrested by police.
The English Defence League founder was then taken before a judge who jailed him for 13 months after he pleaded guilty to contempt of court and breaching the terms of a suspended sentence for a similar offence.
Robinson’s lawyer Matthew Harding claimed the far-right leader had been the victim of assaults while serving time in prison before and there had been ‘a price on his head’ with inmates being offered the reward of drugs and mobile phones to kill him.
MailOnline has been able to report his prison sentence for the first time today after an order banning any publication of his case was lifted.
The original order that banned reporting of Robinson’s arrest and charge was put in place on Friday, to avoid any risk of prejudicing the jury until the conclusion of the separate trial being held at Leeds Crown Court.
However, after representations from the local press today asking the judge to allow his court case and sentencing to be made public, the order was lifted.
Robinson’s sentencing comes after supporters headed to Whitehall on Saturday to stage a protest, waving’#FreeTommy’ and ‘Free the truth teller’ placards.
Others branded St George’s flags and banners with ‘Make Britain Great Again’ on them, with some even mounting the gates surrounding Downing Street.
Robinson was outside Leeds Crown Court on Friday while jurors were in the process of considering verdicts in a trial.
Extraordinary footage shows Robinson being arrested during his Facebook Live broadcast, which was shown to the judge.
The officers ask him to give them his phone and the right-wing activist says: ‘What for?’ He is then told: ‘For breach of the peace.
His supporters exclaim: ‘Are you arresting him?’ and as he is led away he shouts: ‘Can you get me a solicitor? I’m on a suspended sentence, you see.’
Before he is put in a police van an officer reads him his rights and repeats: ‘You are being arrested on suspicion of causing a breach of the peace’.
He was then was held in the court cells before being taken up to the courtroom to face the trial judge where he pleaded guilty to contempt of court and breach of a suspended sentence.
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC told Robinson that his actions may cause the retrial of a long-running trial, costing taxpayers ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’.
Mr Harding, defending, said his client felt ‘deep regret’ after realising the potential consequences of his actions.
He said Robinson thought what he was saying on camera was already in the public domain.
The barrister added: ‘He was mindful, having spoken to others and taken advice, not to say things that he thought would actually prejudice these proceedings. He did not try to cause difficulties for the court process.’
But Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: ‘No one could possibly conclude that it would be anything other than highly prejudicial to the defendants in the trial.
‘I respect everyone’s right to free speech. That’s one of the most important rights that we have.
‘With those rights come responsibilities. The responsibility to exercise that freedom of speech within the law. I am not sure you appreciate the potential consequence of what you have done.
‘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.
‘If I have to do that it will mean a re-trial, costing hundreds and hundreds and 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.’
Jailing the married father-of-three, the judge said: ‘People have to understand that if they breach court orders there will be very real consequences.’
In a rare move, he was arrested, charged and sentenced within five hours.
The video footage was played to as Robinson sat in the dock.
The judge said: ‘He referred to the charges that the defendants faced and some charges which are not proceeded against in relation to some defendants.’
Robinson has a previous conviction for contempt of court.
He was the subject of a suspended prison sentence, imposed at Canterbury Crown Court, for committing a similar offence by filming inside a court.
Robinson has a criminal record dating back to 2005, when he was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
He also has convictions for possessing drugs, threatening behaviour, disobeying a court order, possessing identity documents with intent and fraud.
Robinson, a married father-of-three, founded the English Defence League in Luton in 2009 before resigning in 2013.
The organisation was responsible for violent marches on the streets where members clashed with police and counter-demonstrators.
Why Tommy Robinson was found in contempt of court – and what the law means
Why was Tommy Robinson jailed?
Tommy Robinson was jailed for 13 months after being held in contempt of court for a Facebook Live video he filmed outside a court in Leeds.
Robinson was earlier convicted of contempt of court in May 2017 for broadcasting at a rape trial and given a three-month suspended sentence.
The judge in that case told him that he would be imprisoned if he committed ‘a further contempt of court by similar actions.’
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.’
But choosing not to jail Robinson last May, Judge Norton told 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.’
However, when Robinson streamed the Facebook Live, he was arrested and pleaded guilty to contempt of court and breach of a suspended sentence.
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.’
What is contempt of court?
The law that Robinson was charged under falls under the Contempt of Court Act of 1981.
The law is described as interfering with the administration of justice, in order to give those facing charges a fair trial and eliminate the possibility of a prejudiced jury.
The maximum penalty of contempt of court is up to two years in jail.
The law mostly applies to the media, to restrict publications and broadcasters from reporting anything about the case.
However, because Robinson streamed outside the court to thousands of followers he was charged with contempt of court.
The danger of prejudicing a jury can lead to a collapse of a trial, meaning that the process might have to start over again, and at a great expense.
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC told Robinson in his most recent sentencing that his actions may cause the retrial of a long-running trial, costing taxpayers ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’.
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