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High Court judges to reveal reasons for Tommy Robinson contempt finding

Tommy Robinson arrives at the Old Bailey in London Photo: Yui Mok/PA

High Court judges will reveal their reasons for finding Tommy Robinson committed contempt of court by filming defendants in a criminal trial and broadcasting the footage on social media.

Two senior judges found on Friday that the former English Defence League (EDL) leader was in contempt when he filmed men accused of the sexual exploitation of young girls and live-streamed the footage, in breach of a reporting ban, outside Leeds Crown Court in May 2018.

Tommy Robinson greets supporters as he arrives at the Old Bailey Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Warby, who reached their decision after a two-day hearing at the Old Bailey, will give their detailed reasons at the High Court on Tuesday.

Throughout the hearing, Robinson denied any wrongdoing, saying he did not believe he was breaching reporting restrictions and only referred to information that was already in the public domain.

But Dame Victoria and Mr Justice Warby found him in contempt in three respects.

Supporters of Tommy Robinson clash with police outside the Old Bailey Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Announcing their decision on Friday, Dame Victoria said Robinson was in contempt by breaching the reporting restriction imposed on the trial, by live-streaming the video from outside the public entrance to the court and by “aggressively confronting and filming” some of the defendants.

She said the content of the video “gave rise to a substantial risk that the course of justice in that case would be seriously impeded” and the confrontation of the defendants was a direct interference with the course of justice.

She added: “In our judgment, the respondent’s conduct in each of those respects amounted to a serious interference with the administration of justice.”

A number of Robinson’s supporters who gathered outside the court on Thursday and Friday reacted angrily after the result was announced.

Robinson broadcast the footage on May 25, 2018 while the jury in the second of a series of linked grooming trials was considering its verdict.

A reporting restriction was in place which postponed the publication of any details of the case until the end of all the trials involving 29 people, in a bid to ensure all defendants received a fair trial.

The 36-year-old, from Luton, Bedfordshire, was jailed for 13 months after being found in contempt of court on the day of the broadcast.

The video lasted an hour-and-a-half and was viewed online 250,000 times after being live-streamed on Facebook.

He served two months in jail before being freed after that finding of contempt was overturned by the Court of Appeal in August 2018.

But the case was then referred back to the Attorney General, who announced in March that it was in the public interest to bring fresh proceedings against Robinson.

Dame Victoria and Mr Justice Warby gave permission for the Attorney General to bring a new case against Robinson at a hearing in May.

Robinson is expected to be sentenced on Thursday.

Contempt of court carries a maximum sentence of two years.