I understand that concerns have been raised about the conviction of Mr Robinson. As you will be aware, he was sentenced to 13 months in prison for contempt of court after live streaming on Facebook outside an active trial at Leeds Crown Court on 25 May.
In the video, Mr Robinson discussed the case and attempted to film defendants arriving at court. The judge had placed a reporting restriction on the trial, meaning details could not be published until it concludes later this year. This is to ensure that the trial is fair. Breaching this restriction can amount to contempt of court. It is also illegal to take photographs or film in a courtroom or its precincts.
Mr Robinson had previously been convicted of contempt of court after attempting to film and talk to defendants outside a trial at Canterbury Crown Court in 2017. On that occasion, he was sentenced to three months imprisonment suspended for 18 months.
Mr Robinson was told that if he broke the law again by filming outside a court during a live trial, he would go prison for the three months of his suspended sentence on top of anything else given by any other court.
At his sentencing on 25 May, the judge said that if the jurors had seen the video the jury may have needed to be discharged and the case re-tried, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds. The judge also said that a retrial would mean witnesses in the case would have to give evidence again before a jury.
I agree that freedom of speech is vital and is a cornerstone of our democracy. However, the right to a fair trial is also extremely important.
In Tommy Robinson’s case, the judge emphasised that our rights, including freedom of speech, come with responsibilities to exercise them within the law. He concluded that Mr Robinson’s actions were highly prejudicial to the defendants’ in the trial and therefore interfered with the administration of justice.