Tommy Robinson supporters in clashes as ex-EDL leader handed nine-month jail term for contempt of court

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent

Supporters of Tommy Robinson have clashed with police and journalists as the former English Defence Leader (EDL) founder was jailed for contempt of court over a video he broadcast on social media which featured defendants in a criminal trial.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was handed a nine-month sentence at the Old Bailey on Thursday.

As the sentencing took place, Robinson's supporters gathered outside the court and clashed with police.

Three people were arrested outside court and another in Westminster, but that the alleged offences were committed on Friday, July 5, when Yaxley-Lennon was found guilty of contempt of court.

Dame Victoria Sharp told Robinson that the time the 36-year-old had previously spent behind bars for the contempt will be taken into account, reducing his sentence to 19 weeks – of which he will serve half before being released.

Speaking to ITV News after he was sentenced, Yaxley-Lennon, of Luton, Befordshire, said he "had effectively been sentenced to death" and expects to be targeted by what he described as "jihadist gangs" inside prison because of remarks he has made in the past about Islam.

Tommy Robinson arrives at court, accompanied by a police officer. Credit: PA

Dame Victoria and Mr Justice Warby found Robinson was in contempt in three respects when he filmed men accused of the sexual exploitation of young girls and live-streamed the footage on Facebook, in breach of a reporting ban, outside Leeds Crown Court in May 2018.

A noisy and boisterous crowd outside the court chanted "Shame on you, shame on you", "Oh, Tommy, Tommy", and "we want Tommy out" as the sentencing took place.

Supporters gathered in front of a double-decker bus to hear speakers, including former Ukip leader Gerard Batten, addressing them.

Some began pelting police with drinks bottles and cans and officers donned helmets during a brief flare of violence.

Others shouted "we love you Tommy", as Robinson was taken from the court in a prison van.

The crowd then made its way to Parliament Square to continue the protest, tearing down EU flags on the way.

Journalists filming on College Green outside the Houses of Parliament were verbally abused, physically intimidated and had their equipment attacked before police officers arrived.

There were further angry clashes with police outside Westminster Abbey after one protester was pinned to the ground by police before being bundled into the back of a van.

Other members of the group confronted police, threw drinks and sat on either side of the van to stop it moving.

The Metropolitan Police estimated there were about 200 protesters, and said most had dispersed by about 3pm.

Giving reasons for the contempt finding on Tuesday, Dame Victoria said Robinson encouraged “vigilante action” in the video, which lasted an hour-and-a-half and was viewed online 250,000 times on the morning of the broadcast.

Throughout the Old Bailey hearing last Thursday and Friday, 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 he 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.

Robinson broadcast the footage while the jury in the second of a series of linked grooming trials was considering its verdict.

The video was eventually viewed 3.4 million times after being shared following his arrest.

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.

Robinson's court appearance drew a crowd of supporters and there have been eight arrests, police confirmed. Credit: PA

Robinson was jailed for 13 months after being found in contempt of court on the day of the broadcast.

He served 10 weeks in jail before being freed after the original 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.