Back­lash as Tommy Robin­son is jailed

Po­lice clash with far-right sup­port­ers as EDL founder is con­victed of con­tempt over Face­book video post

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Steve Bird

Riot po­lice had to tackle bot­tle-hurl­ing sup­port­ers of the English De­fence League founder yesterday after he was jailed for con­tempt of court. Fol­low­ing skir­mishes at the Old Bai­ley, pro­test­ers at­tempted to march on Par­lia­ment as Stephen Yax­ley-len­non, who calls him­self Tommy Robin­son, was jailed over a Face­book broad­cast about a trial in­volv­ing an Asian grooming gang. Out­side court the crowd surged to­ward of­fi­cers hurl­ing bot­tles and chant­ing “paedo pro­tec­tors” and “shame” at them.

RIOT po­lice were called in to tackle sup­port­ers of the founder of the English De­fence League yesterday after he was jailed for nine months for con­tempt of court.

There were skir­mishes out­side the Old Bai­ley be­fore a hard­core of pro­test­ers at­tempted to march on Par­lia­ment as Stephen Yax­ley-len­non, who calls him­self Tommy Robin­son, was im­pris­oned for in­cit­ing vig­i­lan­tism in a Face­book broad­cast he had made about a trial in­volv­ing an Asian grooming gang.

While Yax­ley-len­non showed no emo­tion as two High Court judges told him he would be im­pris­oned for around 10 weeks, out­side around 200 peo­ple surged to­wards of­fi­cers hurl­ing bot­tles of beer and chant­ing “paedo pro­tec­tors” and “shame on you”.

When the group moved on, a gang of about 50 men and women, many draped in Union flags, marched along the Strand to­ward Par­lia­ment Square and the of­fices of Ge­of­frey Cox QC, the At­tor­ney Gen­eral who brought the con­tempt case against Yax­ley-len­non, from Lu­ton, Bed­ford­shire.

There was a se­ries of in­creas­ingly tense ex­changes as the group shouted in­sults at po­lice and jour­nal­ists, with one tele­vi­sion crew bear­ing the brunt of the ag­gres­sion as their equip­ment was at­tacked.

Scores of of­fi­cers were dis­patched to guard key Lon­don sites along the demon­stra­tors’ route. Of­fi­cers formed a cor­don block­ing the en­trance to the High Courts of Jus­tice where pro­test­ers un­furled “Free Tommy Robin­son” ban­ners and a St Ge­orge’s flag em­bla­zoned with “Eng­land”.

They then con­gre­gated out­side the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice next to West­min­ster Abbey, where rows of po­lice stood guard.

One sup­porter was pinned to the ground by of­fi­cers be­fore be­ing hauled into a van, prompt­ing pro­test­ers to try to stop the ve­hi­cle leav­ing. Four ar­rests were made by City of Lon­don po­lice, three out­side the Old Bai­ley and one out­side West­min­ster Abbey.

All ar­rests re­lated to in­ci­dents that took place last Fri­day, when Yax­leylen­non was found in con­tempt fol­low­ing a two-day hear­ing.

Dame Vic­to­ria Sharp and Mr Jus­tice Warby found he had been “reck­less” in fail­ing to es­tab­lish de­tails of a re­port­ing ban im­posed to en­sure three linked tri­als in­volv­ing grooming gangs could take place fairly be­fore me­dia cov­er­age was al­lowed. They said his video, which lasted 90 min­utes, showed him “ag­gres­sively” con­fronting de­fen­dants, urg­ing view­ers to find out where they live. The up­loaded ma­te­rial was seen by 3.4 mil­lion peo­ple.

Ar­riv­ing at court, Yax­ley-len­non wore a T-shirt declar­ing he was “con­victed of jour­nal­ism”. But the So­ci­ety of Ed­i­tors con­demned his claims as a “dan­ger­ous dis­tor­tion of the truth”, adding that even a ju­nior re­porter would un­der­stand the per­ils of flout­ing con­tempt laws.

Yax­ley-len­non had been jailed for 13 months for con­tempt at Leeds Crown Court on the day of the broad­cast in May last year. He served 10 weeks in prison be­fore be­ing freed after that con­tempt find­ing was over­turned.

Ear­lier this year, the At­tor­ney Gen­eral said it was in the pub­lic in­ter­est to bring fresh pro­ceed­ings against him.

Mr Cox last night said that “post­ing ma­te­rial on­line that breaches re­port­ing restric­tions or risks prej­u­dic­ing le­gal pro­ceed­ings has con­se­quences”.

Yax­ley-len­non was told be­cause of time al­ready spent in jail for the ini­tial con­tempt find­ing, he would serve just 10 weeks of his prison sen­tence for en­cour­ag­ing vig­i­lan­tism.

Far-right activist Stephen Yax­leylen­non, who calls him­self Tommy Robin­son, ar­rives at the Old Bai­ley. Below, riot po­lice tackle one of his sup­port­ers

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