Friday, 1 June 2018

Contempt of Court - Tommy Robinson

See also Later post 5 July - Tommy Robinson Appeal - Observations

A common saying is "A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on."  This was illustrated recently by the Tommy Robinson case.  His case resulted in a vast amount of ill-informed comment and distortion of the truth which it is difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate.  Let's look at the situation.

Recently, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) was committed to prison for contempt of court and this resulted in enormous publicity for him personally and drew attention to the law of contempt.

“Contempt of court” - (Interference with the administration of justice) - covers a wide variety of conduct which undermines or has the potential to undermine the course of justice, and the procedures which are designed to deal with them. The law governing contempt of court is vast" - Law Commission 2012.  Examples of both contempt at common law and statutory contempts are in this document -
The Law Commission did not cover all aspects of the law of contempt as shown by this paragraph in the Consultation Paper -

Events at Leeds:

From outside the Crown Court at Leeds, Mr Robinson used Facebook Live to broadcast in relation to an on-going trial.  The broadcast took place as defendants arrived at court for the morning court hearing.  It is reported that, prior to his arrest (related to breach of the peace), the broadcast lasted for over an hour and that Police Officers outside the court building were aware for most (perhaps all) of that time that he was "live streaming."  A "reporting restriction" applies to that trial.

Media reports indicate that it is a "postponement order" under Section 4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.  (NB: It still applies and so no more must be said about the on-going trial).  On section 4(2) see this post of 24th September 2012 where His Honour Judge Gilbart QC (later Mr Justice Gilbart) said:

".... the punishment of a man or woman charged with crime can only happen in a free democratic society if he is convicted after due process. It is critical to the maintenance of that due process that any Defendant who denies a charge receives a fair trial, in which trial the jury must decide the case on the evidence it hears put before it in court, presided over by a judge. It cannot and must not be decided on the basis of material published otherwise ...." 

For more on section 4(2) orders see R v Sarker [2018] EWCA Crim 1341

On the same day, the trial judge at Leeds (His Honour Judge Geoffrey Marson QC) dealt with Mr Robinson for contempt of court.  At the hearing Mr Robinson admitted the contempt and was represented by Matthew Harding, an experienced barrister called to the bar sixteen years ago.  Mr Robinson was committed to prison for 13 months - 10 months for the conduct at Leeds and 3 months due to activation of a suspended term imposed at Canterbury in 2017.  The Canterbury judgment (Her Honour Judge Heather Norton QC) is HERE and Mr Robinson was clearly warned that a further contempt of court would result in the suspended term being activated.

At the Leeds hearing it is reported that the judge viewed "the video footage" - LeedsLive 29th May.  According to the Yorkshire Evening Post 29th May 2018, Mr Robinson expressed "deep regret" and thought that what he was saying was already in the public domain.

Whe committing Mr Robinson for contempt, the judge imposed a reporting restriction.  The purpose of this was to try to avoid any prejudice to the on-going trial.  However, following representations by the media, the restriction relating to Mr Robinson was lifted - Press Gazette 29th May - but not the restriction relating to the on-going trial.

It is not unusual for some contempts of court to be dealt with summarily by the judge and contempt of court does not attract trial by jury.

The summary procedure for contempt presents a number of problems such as inadequate time to properly prepare the case.  It is obviously crucial that the individual facing committal for contempt is given a proper opportunity to know the detailed allegations and to be able to prepare for the hearing.  The hearing in Mr Robinson's case was held within hours and it is debatable whether adequate time was allowed to prepare a defence.

Generally, resort to the summary procedure will be justified where there is a need for the court to act decisively, to show that its authority has not been undermined, and to demonstrate that behaviour of the kind perpetrated will never be tolerated and that it will be dealt with quickly and severely.  On this see Balogh v St. Alban's Crown Court [1975] 1 QB 73 .  That may - I am not sure - have been the situation at Leeds since, as reported The Guardian 29th May, Mr Robinson broadcast from outside the court via Facebook Live for over an hour.  He attempted to film defendants entering the court and spoke about the case. The video was viewed thousands of times.  Potentially, there was a substantial risk of serious prejudice to the on-going trial should jurors see the video published by Mr Robinson.  That is the very thing that the reporting restriction was intended to avoid.

A further ill-informed comment about Mr Robinson's case is that he was tried in secret.  This was NOT so.  The hearing was in public and was attended by media representatives.  However, the judge imposed the reporting restriction referred to earlier and which was later removed.

The judgment of HHJ Marson has not been published at the time of writing this post. This ought to throw a fuller light on the facts and the court's reasoning.  Either a written judgment or a transcription of an oral judgment should be provided in accordance with this Practice Direction - (paras 14 and 15).  This post will be updated if necessary following the publication of any judgment.

The Criminal Procedure Rules Part 48 deal with Contempt of Court.  See also Crown Prosecution Service

Court and Tribunals Judiciary - Examples of Contempt

Prisoner Safety:

At the Leeds hearing it appears that representation was made to the judge that, in prison, Mr Robinson could be a risk of attack by other prisoners.  The Yorkshire Evening Post reported  that Mr Robinson's counsel told the judge that - " ... Robinson had served time in prison before and had been the victim of assaults in custody .... there had been "a price on his head" during his last prison term and inmates had been offered the reward of drugs and mobile phones to kill him."

It is worth noting that the prison system allows for segregation of prisoners - see Prison Rules - Rule 45.  (Segregation was examined by the Supreme Court in the Bourgass case - [2015] UKSC 54).  I have no further information at this time about whether any action is being taken in this regard in Mr Robinson's case.


Contempt of Court generally:

Moving away from the Robinson case, a great deal more could be written about contempt of court.

In Attorney-General v Punch [2002] UKHL 50, Lord Nicholls said at para 2 - "Contempt of court is the established, if unfortunate, name given to the species of wrongful conduct which consists of interference with the administration of justice. It is an essential adjunct of the rule of law. Interference with the administration of justice can take many forms ....."

For those wishing to explore this subject further, I recommend reading the Law Commission's Project on Contempt and, in particular, Contempt of Court: Court Reporting.   It will be seen that a significant concern was to address the question - "How does anyone know that a reporting restriction is in place?"   The Commission recommended:
  • ensuring that postponement orders on court reporting are all posted on a single publicly accessible website, and
  • including a further restricted service where, for a charge, registered users can access the terms of the order and sign up for automated email alerts of new orders.
A similar website currently operates in Scotland.

The Commission stated - "Under section 4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, the courts have a power to order that contemporary court reporting be postponed, where this is necessary to avoid a substantial risk of prejudice to those or other imminent or pending legal proceedings. There is presently no formal system for communicating the existence of such orders to the media, which creates obvious practical problems and reduces the efficacy of the regime."

Clearly, such orders are a significant exception to the usual "open justice" principle.  One aspect of orders under section 4(2) is that reporting may take place once the order ceases to have effect.  By then the details of what happened in court will be stale news and often will not be adequately reported. 

See also the 2016 Guide on Reporting Restrictions issued by the Judicial College.  The need for precision in formulation of orders is set out in the guide.

The conduct of contempt proceedings is the subject of Part 48 of the Criminal Procedure Rules.

For appeals in contempt cases see the Administration of Justice Act 1960 section 13.

Further useful material is available via Albion Chambers - Contempt Proceedings and Contempt of Court - The Compendium

The Secret Barrister 25th May 

63 comments:

  1. You haven't demonstrated that his sentence was fair and proportionate. There are other issues at play with "reporting restrictions" such as freedom of speech. I haven't found any other cases where a "journalist" has received a custodial sentence, let alone of over a year. Have you?

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    1. Need the judge's remarks to properly assess that.

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    2. Two points here. First, there is certainly precedent for sentences this long in racist speech (e.g. Jeremy Bedford-Turner)

      Second, the original sentence was 3 months suspended, and this is a second offence. Courts tend to take a dim view of flagrant and habitual breaches of specific orders.

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    3. Supposedly the judge made it clear this was a seperate offence to the first one. Secondly TR asked the court officers outside where the boundaries were. Race was never mentioned either unless you are suggesting that the BBC are racist as well.

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    4. There is no indication that racism is at play here in the context of Tommy Robinson's character; his political history as an activist, and from any transcript you can find; I don't think you'd be able to find any; this is not an argument. If you grow up in Luton, there's a good chance have non practicing muslim childhood friends; seems Tommy has got good insight in this context. I would assume the Sikhs who support Tommy Robinson's work would also have problems with his racist characterisation.

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  2. I don't fully understand how TR/SYL in his livestream went against the postponement order.

    He read from an earlier BBC article (apparently) which outlined the charges.

    He didn't outline anything occuring in the court because he didn't have access to the court.

    Could you please explain what part of his actions that day was believed to be in contempt of the order and if so how this could prejudice the trial?

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    1. We await publication of the judgment. Hopefully that will throw more light on all of this.

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    2. Is that likely and if so, when might we expect it?

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    3. As the post mentions, there is a Practice Direction requiring it. Not sure when it will be issued however.

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    4. OK, thank you for clarifying. Could you please advise, will this judgement be purely based upon Morson's delivered judgement alone, at the time of sentencing, or will it include any additional considerations after his sentencing decision (i.e. that might seek to answer to various issues that have arisen due to the wider interest in this case)?

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    5. It ought to be a judgment relating to the sentencing and to that alone. Not sure when we will see it however.

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    6. Thank you of your excellent article. In the Practice Directions it states in paragraph 14, "...such transcription to be ordered the same day as the judgment is given and prepared on an expedited basis." It's now twelve days, so it doesn't seem like it's been "expedited". Despite the directions, is a delay of this length common in your experience?

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    7. Contempt of Court? He read out the charges incorrectly, some faced charges, others didn't; he live filmed and addressed some Defendants with questions during a live trial; he encouraged others (thousands) to share the footage.

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  3. s1 Judicial Proceedings (Regulation of Reports) Act 1926

    Prohibits publication in relation to any judicial proceedings of any indecent medical, surgical or physiological details which would be calculated to injure public morals. Breach is punishable on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding four months and/or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale. The Attorney General's consent is required.

    Numerous regulations were breached during the sentencing of Mr Robinson, exceeding the 4 month maximum for a breach in reporting restrictions is just one of them. Summarily sentencing him at a crown court was another sans a jury and a right to an attorney(his own) no less. Note that the attorney general's consent is required, I fail to see how all this could have been procured within the span of 5 hours.

    The open justice principle dictates that members of the press(or public) be given the benefit of the doubt and only under the most excessive of breaches and extreme cases can a full contempt of court be charged. This is hardly the case with Robertson. This is simply a matter of the system exercising near totalitarian abuse of power. Time will tell how this will unfold but something tells me the judge will have a lot to answer for.

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    1. The 1926 was not relevant here. The Act is concerned with injury to "public morals" and to prevention of certain information arising in divorce (and similar) proceedings.

      1926 Act

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    2. Regardless of the reporting restrictions. How is there a high risk of prejudice? Its a case like any other. All different types of media report on cases all the time through the process of a trial. Why is there no risk of prejudice in these cases? No matter how you look at it, its no different! There was no news given from the first trial which under section 4.2 of the restriction in place. Separately any order must only go as far as to achieve its objective. The objective being the outcome of the first trial

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    3. The "postponement order" applies because there are 3 trials. The one we are concerned with here is the second trial.

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  4. A big cause of outrage with this whole saga from a lot of people, is that Tommy was supposedly broadcasting his stream from a public street outside of the court grounds. Do you have any knowledge at all of whether postponement orders apply only to those reporting within the confines of the court grounds, or if it has a more broader application to everybody in public generally, regardless of their location, with just the publication of content itself being what matters?

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    1. What matters is the content of a publication. One problem is that people need to know exactly what is prohibited in a particular case. This is why the Law Commission's recommendation is important. Under their scheme - if it is implemented - anyone would be able to find out if a "postponement order" was in place and accredited users only would be able to find out the details of what is prohibited.

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    2. Thank you, that is how I understood it too. I think some people have mistakenly conflated the statute prohibiting photographs/filming in court, with the separate COC ones relating to the publishing of prejudicial content in general (strict liability rule & postponement order). I read through the Law Commissions recommendation, and agree it's a good idea, Scotland seems to be leading the way there.

      And to your credit, thank you also for your neutral tone in writing this blog post. There's lots of people who support Tommy but are genuinely just confused about the law and wanting to know more, and it makes them a lot more receptive to the content when not branding them all thick "knuckle-draggers", as another certain law blog did.

      I personally support Tommy, and while I think his intentions were good and that he didn't mean to commit any offence, it seems clear to me that his sentencing was legally justified. Hopefully he will live and learn from it.

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    3. Thank you for your comment. My aim with this blog is to explain as best I can. There is huge misunderstanding about it. It is also very sad that even mainstream media reporting is not all it could be. For me at least, the law has to do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

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  5. Hello there, when can we expect the full judgment to be published?

    Regards, A

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    1. According to the Practice Direction - referred to in the post - one should be provided and published as soon as reasonably practicable. That's all I know.

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  6. In this case, would a dispersal order have been more practical? The actions of the judge has, rather than turn attention away from the case has in fact brought more attention to it. Also, I assume he could appeal the conviction, if so how long might that take? (I can also think oof numerous ways it could be countered and be argued it was incorrect)

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    1. Dispersal Orders were probably not a practicable step here since they require prior authorisation in writing by an officer of Inspector rank or higher. See my post on them dated 4th June.

      There has been considerable attention paid to this case but reporting restrictions apply and so matters such as the daily court sessions have not been reported contemporaneously. It may be a considerable time before the reporting restrictions cease to apply.

      At the moment, I prefer not to comment on whether Mr Robinson has any possibility of challenging the decision of the judge.

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    2. You say "Dispersal Orders were probably not a practicable step here since they require prior authorisation in writing by an officer of Inspector rank or higher".
      How is it he police are allowed to give out section 35 orders to people traveling to TR rally's?

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  7. It is alleged that Robinson's solicitor was told by police that he would be "released within the hour" and so she didn't make the trip to represent him. Within hours of that phone call he was sentenced to prison with a court appointed representative assigned to him.

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    1. Thank you for the comment. I understand that Mr R asked for a solicitor. Beyond that I have no information. Counsel was appointed to represent him and, in all fairness, he could not have had better. Whether a point re Art 6 rights will arise is yet to be seen.

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    2. "Counsel was appointed to represent him and, in all fairness, he could not have had better" I disagree with this assessment. When Sentencing linked to a prior matter, the accused's own solicitor is clearly "better" as they have intimate knowledge of the situation. Counsel being fantastic on paper is irrelevant, and now that the process has been so completely trashed by the Appeal Court, if none of these issues were raised by Counsel (such as what charge did the accused Plead guilty to? Why was there an undue rush to trial when there was no continuing harm? Why Summary proceedings?) then the accused could have undoubtably had better Counsel. As soon as the arrest, conviction and sentence was discovered many police officers expressed grave concern and they are considerably lower pay grades than the appointed Counsel.

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    3. "Counsel was appointed to represent him and, in all fairness, he could not have had better" I disagree with this assessment. As the Judge took previous matters into account, the accused would clearly have benefited from their preferred Counsel who had intimate knowledge of the facts. Whilst great on paper, the successful Appeal and setting aside of the conviction shows that there were shocking procedural problems with this Trial and if these were not raised with the Judge (which I've seen no indication of) then it means that the QC was a poor Counsel for this accused. As soon as news broke about the arrest, conviction and sentence several retired police officers immediately spoke out about concerns they had and they are considerably lower down the scale than a QC. How could they spot the flaws so quickly?

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  8. Hi there, I have some grave concerns about this case: When judge Geoffrey Marson Q.C. applied reporting restrictions on this case, he caused a huge OUTCRY AMONG THE PUBLIC, because as you know, in law and convictions, justice has to be done, as well as seen to be done - but in this case it was not seeb to be done, at the very least.I have a few questions 1) I heard and I saw pictures taken of judge Geoffrey Marson Q.C.watching from a window above at Leeds Crown Court before Tommy was arrested. Which would mean he was one of the witnesses to the crime of the charge which Tommy was arrested for by the arresting officer, of the "breach of the peace." In British law or English law, does that mean the judge should be forced resuce himself of this case, if he is a witness.
    2) When Tommy Robertson's case was brought, since the judge Geoffrey Marson, Q.C.admitted in court that he had only seen a small portion of Tommy Robinson's recording - his hour or so recording outside the Leeds court, does that not incriminate the judge to the charge of not giving Tommy full process of the law.
    3) As I mentioned above, the fact that Tommy was arrested for alleged, "breaching the peace" of which the judge changed the charge to "contempt of court" isn't that a huge miscarriage of justice, there, because the charge was changed by the judge?

    4) And then the other point at which I think a good defence lawyer could appeal is the fact that Tommy was not given an opportunity to defend himself properly, using his own solicitor.I heard through social media that Tommy's solicitor is a woman but the issue is why wasn't Tommy given time to get his solicitor? He was given a solicitor that was not briefed about Tommy's previous case in Canterbury,and so that does not look like justice was served, especially when we the public hear that Tommy was advised under duress to plead guilty to contempt of court on the false hope that the judge would be lenient, because what transpired was he was served by the activation of the previous judge's contempt of court, i.e. 3 months plus judge Geoffrey Marson's ruling,i.e. 10 months - a total of 13 months which looks so disportionate to the supposed, admitted crime of "contempt of court." Please could you enlighten me on these matters? Thanking you in advance.

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    1. We need to bear in mind that it is in the public interest that those genuinely guilty of offences are convicted and that the not guilty are acquitted. Reporting restrictions apply to assist with this process and, under section 4(2) of the 1981 Act, reporting is postponed until the completion of the trial (or a linked trial).

      Linked trial is where reporting on Trial A may affect the fairness of Trial B etc.

      A reporting restriction was imposed in Mr Robinson’s contempt case but was lifted later following media representations. Restrictions continue to apply to the on-going trials.

      Question 1 – a Judge who observes what he considers to be a contempt is not necessarily prevented from dealing with that contempt. This a difficult legal area and there is too much case law to address it here. The Law Commission’s material on contempt says something about it.

      Question 2 – I prefer for await a proper report of the contempt proceedings to be sure.

      Question 3 – Not a miscarriage of justice. It is common for a person (D) to be arrested for one thing and then charged / tried for another.

      Question 4 – Again we need a full report of the contempt proceedings. He was represented in court by experienced counsel. His counsel would have been able to address the judge regarding whether to activate the Canterbury suspended sentence. The actual advice given to Mr Robinson is not actually known publicly so I am unable to comment on it.

      The questions you ask are entirely fair ones to ask but there is a lack of official information which does not make it easy to answer points about the rights and wrongs of the specific case against Mr Robinson. One hopes that details of the contempt hearing will be published as soon as possible.

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    2. The transcript of any contempt of court committal judgement should be listed on the judiciary website the same day as the conviction, yet today it is still not listed. Why?

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  9. Is there any indication when the Judge applied the reporting restriction? I have found a video from May 2017 on the same case, from a Sikh reporter being even more prejudicial than Tommy Robinson was. My initial thought was that he just didn't get done because his platform isn't big enough, but then I noticed the date and thought this may have been before the reporting restrictions were put in place for the case.

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    1. I do not have the date of the reporting restriction.

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  10. Interesting piece that ignores three main issues that I have with the arrest and conviction of Tommy Robinson in what I believe was nothing more than a kangaroo court that abused the legal system.


    1) The initial arrest for 'Breach of the peace' was unlawful as procedures under section 24 PACE were not followed and it would be impossible for any arrest.

    2) As it was blatantly obvious by TR's actions he had no intention of committing any offence Judge Marson would only be able to try him under 'Strict Liability' law, the Mens Rea was not there, for the criteria for such an offence to be met it would need to be proven that TR 'SUBSTANCIALLY' impeded or prejudiced an on going trial. That clearly was not the case.
    3) There are strict rules of procedure in an contempt of court committal and these have not been followed as is clearly evident by the lack of judgement transcript on the judiciary website. It should have been listed the day he was convicted.


    Just three flaws that seem to be wilfully ignored by legal professionals blogging about this particular case and yet they show due process has not been followed thus making Tommy Robinson's incarceration unlawful. Whether he was guilty of the offence or not.

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    1. Thank you for the comments.

      1) PACE s24 does not apply to breach of the peace because s24 is concerned only with arrest for "offences" and breach of the peace is not an offence.

      2) The judge plainly considered that the trial could have been substantially prejudiced. An appeal is possible if that is to be challenged.

      3) The authorities may (I'm not sure) be waiting until the end of the trial before publishing anything. A judgment or transcript of oral judgment has to be provided to the Judicial Office and then published "as soon as practicable."

      I have no intention of "wilfully ignoring" anything which is relevant to my topic - that is, contempt of court. Mr Robinson's case provided a topical context against which to look at this matter.

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    2. I am afrid that by error I deleted your further reply. Please resend it if you wish. Sorry about that.

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  11. Thank you for your kind reply, I would appreciate if you would let me know when the details of the proceedings of Tommy's trial is published.

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  12. Please note Chris the Court will publish no papers, when they eventually do (as soon as is practicable) with reference to Tommy Robinson in the header. You can search for Stephen Yaxley-Lennon. I really appreciate this blog, some common sense analysis swimming against a tidal wave of misinformation and ignorance peddled and magnified by the Far-Right.

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  14. I understand that you have the right to appoint your own legal representative. If you are denied this, does it not mean that you either get released because due process hasn't been followed, or that a retrial has to take place? To what extent is the right to appoint your own lawyer protected?

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    1. European Convention on Human Rights Article 6(3)(c) is engaged here. A defendant has the right ...

      (c) to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require.

      By virtue of Article 6 (3) (c), the authorities cannot force an officially appointed counsel on an accused who can procure legal assistance for himself/herself.

      But, it appears that where the individual is not in that position then the Article is complied with provided that competent counsel is appointed.

      The UK case closes in point dealing with this appears to be Maguire


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  15. (Given the calibre of the Defence Counsel available and the expeditious nature of the Contempt Hearing - by way of necessity - my thoughts are so long as there is adequate legal representation then Stephen did not have the right to insist on the guidance of his own solicitor/lawyer)

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  16. You're probably getting rather tired of answering questions about this case, but there's something I don't understand that you can maybe clarify for me if you have the time.
    In your original post, you say: "There was a substantial risk of serious prejudice to the on-going trial should jurors have seen the video published by Mr Robinson. That is the very thing that the reporting restriction for the on-going trial is intended to avoid."
    Having looked at the footage of Mr Robinson's live stream, I'm really at a loss to understand how its contents could possibly represent a 'substantial risk' of prejudicing either the trial being heard at the time or the upcoming linked trial in September. From my layperson's reading of section 4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act, it seems to relate to reporting of the proceedings of the court, which I take to mean anything that is said or done within the court room. Robinson wasn't privy to any of the actual proceedings because he wasn't in the court. He read out the names of the accused and the charges against them, which is surely information the jury was already well aware of (and was already in the public domain). I'm very confused about this and would value any light you could throw on it.

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    1. The Charges read out by Stephen were inaccurate - some faced the charges he claimed, others did not. With live-filming them and identifying them and then encouraging others to share this misinformation he potentially prejudiced their right to a fair Trial. What I too am unclear about is if any of the Defendants in the Second trial faced further charges in the Third trial. However, in the Judges own words, the above was the nature of the Contempt.

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    2. I cannot comment about Mr Robinson's live stream but thank you for commenting about the post. I'm not tired of this interesting subject. The law is far from straightforward. The Law Commission reports bear that out!

      “Proceedings” are active from the arrest of the suspect - Contempt of Court Act 1981 - see the Schedule.

      It is not a contempt to report fair and accurately about proceedings but reporting in a prejudicial way will be a contempt. However, where there is a postponement order then ANY reporting is impermissible. Section 4(2) empowers the judge to order that the publication of any report of the proceedings is postponed.

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    3. To Ian Grace - Where there are numerous defendants the court may decide to have a number of "linked" trials. Any particular individual will be in one of the trials.

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    4. Thank you for your reply, but I've been looking into this further since I posed my original question. On reading the relevant guidance for judges (Reporting Restrictions in the Criminal Courts, May 2016), I see that it says on page 27 “The subject matter of a postponement order under s4(2) is fair, accurate, good faith and contemporaneous reports of the proceedings. Trial judges have no power under s4(2) to postpone publication of any other reports e.g. in relation to matters not admitted into evidence or prejudicial comment in relation to the proceedings. Likewise, courts have no power under s4(2) to prevent publication of material that is already in the public domain.” [emphasis added]. How does this square with his alleged mis-reporting of the charges as stated by Ian Grace, if he took that information from something already in the public domain? And how does it square with your assertion that ANY reporting is impermissible? It sounds to me as if Mr Robinson's live stream was purely commentary and that the court had no power under section 4(2) to stop him.

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    5. Sandy A, yours is indeed a convincing argument however I would approach the Points you have raised in this manner; the document that Stephen read from was I understand an article from the BBC. The date of publication of that material one can assume was at the outset of the Trial(s). During the Course of a Trial one can assume certain Charges are dropped etc. Article 6 of ECHR is paramount here. It appears Mr Yaxley-Lennon tried to introduce now inaccurate information as fact and relevant to the Proceedings at a time when it was not, and encouraged other to disseminate this inaccurate information as widely as possible. Judge Marston has yet to publish his Ruling given that the specific details may Prejudice proceedings, one may assume, given the interest. There may be other elements to the Contempt, live-filming Defendants, addressing Defendants with questions during a live trial under blanket Reporting Restrictions, some of the content of his live-feed. As a final point grooming of children specifically by Pakistani Muslims is a grave concern - however Stephen identifies all "Muslims" as having this penchant and has silenced his platform until the end of the year for speaking out.

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    6. Ian Grace, the accuracy or inaccuracy of the material in the public domain is, apparently, neither here nor there. The paragraph I quoted from goes on to say that the responsibility for the quality and accuracy of the information in the public domain lies with the original publisher, which in this case would be the BBC. I can't remember the exact wording, but that was the gist of the advice.
      As for filming defendants, the guidance has something to say about that, too. It advises that Section 4 is about avoiding prejudice to the administration of justice “rather than the private welfare of those caught up in that administration”. It cites a case where a defendant's lawyer applied (unsuccessfully) for reporting restrictions to be imposed on the basis of potential reputational damage or physical risk to the defendant.

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  17. Many thanks, I suspected this but on the various forums where I subjected to all forms of abuse I was told that the trial of 10 people in this second trial could not possibly prejudice the third hearing (of 9 defendants) so thinks for clarifying - given the reporting restrictions nobody knows who is on trial for what, not least Stephen Yaxley-Lennon so he simply should not have peddled misinformation as he did, endangering the Trial.

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    1. Ian Grace he is not peddling misinformation if he is regurgitating current information readily available to anyone choosing to visit the BBC website, at the beginning of statements he also utilised the term allegedly. The instigation of this charge is the implementation of the letter of the law for a purpose other than the intention of the law, there was nothing said by TR which would have given any grounds for the granting of a mistrial. Would there possibly be grounds for a hearing as to granting a mistrial possibly but even that basis was extraordinarly thin.

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    2. Marc thanks - this is the scenario - Trial 2 in a series of interlinked Trials, Stephen claimed that the Charges (at the outset of the case) against the Defendants AT THAT TIME were still live and relevant. He did not say, these were the Charges the Defendants WERE initially charged with at the outset of Proceedings. Should any Juror have been exposed to the live feed (chances were remote admittedly) and who were considering verdicts in relation to Trial 2, and had been exposed to Stephen stating as a matter of fact that Defendant A was also charged with Charges which had SINCE BEEN DROPPED IN THE COURSE OF PROCEEDINGS........there we have it, prejudicing their right to a fair Trial by influencing the decision of the Jury. Stephen also says as one point in the live feed (paraphrasing) - "this is their name, this is what they are charged with, this is what they have done." He presumes guilt and this also may have been a factor. We will find out for certain when the transcript is published, I expect after the Trial has concluded in September 2018. But this is where the Contempt lay, as with asking to 10000 viewers to share this misinformation - let's put aside for one moment approaching Defendants DURING A LIVE AND ONGOING TRIAL and addressing them with questions, disregarding the Reporting Restrictions. He is an intelligent bloke who acted like a Juvenile and provoked a response. He got it. Was left in no doubt by Heather Norton QC in May 2017 what would happen as well!

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  18. Equality before the law, also known as: equality under the law, equality in the eyes of the law, or legal equality, is the principle that each independent being must be treated equally by the law (principle of isonomy) and that all are subject to the same laws of justice (due process).[1] Therefore, the law must guarantee that no individual nor group of individuals should be privileged or discriminated against by the government.

    40 years of abuse carried out by thousands of muslims against children is concealed by the judiciary, the police and the social services. They are in many cases complicit in many of the crimes. Tommy Robinson is given 13 months for filming something which was almost certainly seen by no one in the court room.
    Any one with common sense - lawyers clearly excluded on this count - knows what is just and what isn't

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  19. Kevin, on this blog it is important to be accurate. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was handed down a sentence of ten months for his conduct outside Leeds Crown Court on May 25th 2018 - he read aloud inaccurate charges against some of the Defendants potentially prejudicing their Right to a fair Trial under the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 6) and encouraged others to share this misinformation.

    As you correctly identify, in Law "almost certainly" is "possibly maybe" and his actions could have potentially impeded the Trial or Prejudiced the Jury hence being found Guilty of Contempt of Court, which activated his Suspended Sentence for the same Offence in May 2017.

    It is possible to make generic statements alleging complicity in or to accuse others of Crimes without any evidence to substantiate those claims and to blatantly ignore the abuse carried out by other religious Groups and cultures (sometimes our own) in doing so..... as you have indeed just done.

    It is however an absurdity that you infer that Muslims who abuse children are privileged (by the Government) when Judge Marson QC (of The Judiciary) has acted to protect the integrity of a Trial of 29 Defendants accused I assume of serious sexual offences (some if not all whom are Muslim) by jailing Stephen Yaxley-Lennon for his actions which could have, and which may, potentially collapse a Trial.

    Anyone with common sense - yourself clearly excluded on this Count - knows what is Contempt of Court and what isn't.


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    1. I am confused about the response to Sandy A's comment. Since Stephen read the most accurate information available to him at the time and that was already available to the public domain. And he had no way of knowing that it was inaccurate because no other reporting was allowed how can he be held accountable for this. Also Stephen does not believe that all Muslims have a penchant for grooming. He actually goes out of his way to set a difference between Islam the ideology and Muslim the person.

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    2. Robert Miles Jr, I think you're right (though I'm no lawyer). The accuracy or inaccuracy of the information Robinson read out is a red herring - the responsibility for that lies with the original publisher - the BBC.
      As for his beliefs about Muslims, they are neither here nor there - another red herring that has nothing whatsoever to do with the contempt of court issue.
      And you're right - Robinson has consistently for years explicitly made a distinction between the ideology and the people who follow it, yet the mainstream media persist in portraying him as an anti-Muslim bigot. And it's ridiculous to assume that just by pointing out that 84% of child rape grooming gangs are Muslims you're implying that all Muslims are rapists. This is akin to accusing someone who observes that there are a lot of Catholic priests implicated in child rape of implying that all priests are paedophiles.

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    3. Ian Grace, You say, in response to Kevin's point, "It is possible to make generic statements alleging complicity in or to accuse others of Crimes without any evidence to substantiate those claims and to blatantly ignore the abuse carried out by other religious Groups and cultures (sometimes our own) in doing so..... as you have indeed just done."
      Kevin's point is that there's an imbalance between the punishment meted out (i.e. none or next to none) to all the public employees who failed in their duty by turning a blind eye to the abuse and exploitation of thousands of children and Robinson's 13 month prison term. There is plenty of evidence to substantiate the claims that numerous police, social workers, councillors, teachers, etc. failed in their duty to protect vulnerable children. It's contained in the Jay Report for one thing.
      And since when did it become invalid to level a criticism against one group of people because there are other groups that do the same thing? That's a classic 'whataboutism' argument - a well-known logical fallacy.

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  20. Hi Robert, if broadcasting to an audience of x thousand on a Case which he knew was under blanket reporting restrictions with the threat of a suspended sentence hanging over him he should have taken legal advice regarding his conduct and what he could say and what he could not.

    If he had prefaced the reading out of the Charges with "this is what the Defendants were originally charged with in 2017" and not said words to the effect of "this is who they are, this is the charge against them and this is what they have done" as he did during the video then he would have a much stronger argument. He also assumed guilt if I recall asking if that was their prison bag, but I may have got this confused with other videos I have watched.

    My understanding of the Contempt was not because of his provocative nature but he was live-streaming inaccurate information to a sizeable audience - asking that they share as widely as possible. It would seem your argument rests on a Complaint that the Judge should not have imposed blanket reporting restrictions in order that individuals with no connection to the Trials could broadcast accurate information during the Trials, which is absurd.

    Grooming by predominantly Pakistani male Muslims is an issue, which Stephen to my mind publicises to suit his agenda, and he has done so in a juvenile and ill-informed fashion at the cost of his liberty.

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  21. With thanks for the comments received I Have now closed this post for further comments.

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  22. The issue is, hence the successful appeal, was that nobody had "intimate knowledge" of the situation. The Judge was placed, in the COA's words, in an 'Invidious Position' having to deal with suspending Jury Deliberations due to Stephens' actions and the potential collapse of the Trial. Things were rushed, that is accepted. Proper procedures were not followed, that is accepted. Perhaps his Legal Representatives from Canterbury would have been preferable, who are certainly not immune and able to engage in tricks themselves..... over to the COA.....

    Robinson argued that the judge had failed to provide the written statement of particulars of the contempt required by Rule 48.7. However, the Court of Appeal, following the appeal hearing last month, came into receipt of “late disclosure”, which showed that “a deliberate tactical decision was made by [Robinson’s] legal advisers at Canterbury to be complicit in the court’s failure to comply with Rule 48.” The appellant waived legal privilege (a common request made by the Court of Appeal in appeals where criticism is made of how Crown Court proceedings were conducted) which allowed the Court of Appeal to read the legal advice he received. And it emerged that a conscious decision was taken by his legal team not to invite the judge to follow the correct procedure, as they thought they would secure a tactical advantage by making the judge “uneasy” about the proceedings.

    The Court of Appeal was not impressed, telling Robinson:

    “It lies ill in the mouth of an appellant to complain of the failure of the court below to follow the appropriate procedural steps when that failure was fully appreciated at the time and remained deliberately uncorrected for tactical reasons and collateral advantage.”

    The Court added that the new barristers instructed for the appeal were unaware of this until after the appeal hearing, and disclosed it promptly when it came to their attention.

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