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Why Tommy Robinson was released – and why he might end up back in jail

The former English Defence League leader has been granted conditional bail pending new proceedings at the Old Bailey.

Tommy Robinson is facing a new hearing over an allegation he committed contempt of court.

Three leading judges in London quashed a finding made against the former English Defence League leader at Leeds Crown Court in May, and granted Robinson conditional bail from a 13-month jail sentence pending new proceedings at the Old Bailey.

Here are some key questions over the case:

Why was Tommy Robinson jailed?

Robinson was jailed after a judge at Leeds Crown Court found him in contempt of court in May.

The judge determined that Robinson’s broadcasting of a video online breached a court order which postponed any reporting of a trial until the conclusion of another, linked, trial.

He was jailed within five hours of the video being filmed and posted online.

He was previously given a suspended sentence for contempt at Canterbury Crown Court, when a judge told him it was likely he would go to prison if he engaged in similar conduct in future.

Demonstrators against Tommy Robinson outside the court (John Stilwell/PA)

Why has he been released?

Robinson has been freed on bail pending a rehearing of the allegation relating to Leeds Crown Court after the finding of contempt was quashed by Court of Appeal judges.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, said the judge at Leeds Crown Court was wrong to deal with Robinson as quickly as he did.

He said it was “inappropriate” for the judge to rule on the issue after Robinson took immediate steps to remove the video from the internet and said the case should have been adjourned.

He also said it was “unclear” exactly which aspects of Robinson’s conduct had breached the court order and that the “haste” with which the case was dealt with meant his lawyers weren’t given enough time to prepare his mitigation.

Supporters of Tommy Robinson outside the Royal Courts of Justice (John Stilwell/PA)

What is contempt of court?

Contempt of court law exists to ensure the fairness and integrity of criminal trials.

Where a judge believes there is a “substantial risk of serious prejudice” to a defendant, an order may be made under the Contempt of Court Act which postpones the reporting of a trial until its conclusion.

When making such an order, a judge has to balance the interests of justice in a fair trial taking place with other interests – including free speech and open justice.

In most cases where someone is alleged to be in contempt of court, the matter will be referred to the Attorney General.

Robinson’s supporters and Stand Up To Racism demonstrators were kept separated by police outside the court (John Stilwell/PA)

What will happen next?

Robinson will face a fresh hearing on the alleged contempt of court.

Lord Burnett directed that the case is to be heard by a different judge, at the Old Bailey in London.

He also invited the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox to appoint a lawyer to appear at the hearing and present the case to the judge.

No date was given for the hearing, which will take place before the Recorder of London, Nicholas Hilliard QC.

If found in contempt Robinson may be sent back to prison.


From Belfast Telegraph