Tommy Robinson faces wait for ruling in contempt of court challenges
Leading judges in London said they would try their ‘level best’ to announce a decision before the end of the month.
Former English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson – who is serving a 13-month jail term for contempt of court – faces a wait to find out if he has succeeded in challenges against conviction and sentence.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett announced at the end of Court of Appeal proceedings in London on Wednesday that the court would try its “level best” to give a decision by the end of July.
Robinson, 35, whose real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, watched via video link from prison.
During the hearing, his QC Jeremy Dein urged Lord Burnett and two other judges to overturn contempt of court findings, submitting that procedural “deficiencies” had given rise to “prejudice”.
Mr Dein, when asking the judges to reduce the jail sentence, argued that it was “manifestly excessive”, and said that “insufficient weight” had been given to personal mitigation.
Robinson was jailed in May after he filmed people involved in a criminal trial and broadcast the footage on social media.
The footage, lasting around an hour, was watched 250,000 times within hours of being posted on Facebook.
Everyone understands the right to freedom of speech but there are responsibilities and obligations Judge Geoffrey Marson
The far-right activist was given 10 months for contempt of court, which he admitted, and a further three months for breaching a previous suspended sentence.
Robinson was detained outside Leeds Crown Court after using social media to broadcast details of a trial which is subject to blanket reporting restrictions.
Jailing him, Judge Geoffrey Marson told Robinson his actions could cause the trial to be re-run, costing “hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds”.
The judge said it was a “serious aggravating feature” that he was encouraging others to share it and it had been shared widely.
He added: “Everyone understands the right to freedom of speech but there are responsibilities and obligations.
“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.”
It was the second time Robinson had breached court orders, having narrowly avoided jail in May 2017 over footage he filmed during the trial of four men who were later convicted of gang-raping a teenage girl.
The judge on that occasion gave him a three-month suspended sentence and told him his punishment was not about “freedom of speech or freedom of the press” but about “justice and ensuring that a trial can be carried out justly and fairly”.
Mr Dein argued on Wednesday that the findings of contempt of court on each occasion should be quashed as a “conglomeration of procedural deficiencies” had given rise to prejudice.
The QC said the proceedings in Leeds had been “unnecessarily and unjustifiably rushed”.
He told the judges: “We maintain it is of particular importance that right from the outset the appellant, albeit in a very stressful and difficult situation, offered to have the livestream taken down and contact people who could do so.”
There had been no intention to disrupt the trial or to breach any order, Mr Dein said.