Tommy Robinson ‘reckless’ to Facebook Live outside sex abuse trial

Far-right activist recorded footage outside a court in breach of a reporting ban

Former leader of the far-right English Defence League, Tommy Robinson speaks at a rally as he arrives for a court appearance at the Old Bailey in London. EPA
Former leader of the far-right English Defence League, Tommy Robinson speaks at a rally as he arrives for a court appearance at the Old Bailey in London. EPA

Far-right activist Tommy Robinson was “reckless” when he livestreamed footage of defendants on trial in Leeds, High Court judges in Britain were told on Thursday.

Mr Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is accused of contempt of court after he recorded Facebook Live footage from outside Leeds Crown Court in May 2018 in breach of a ban on reporting.

The ban on reporting details of the case had been imposed because several linked trials involving 29 defendants accused of sexual exploitation were going on at the same time. Reporting restrictions were due to be lifted at the end of the trials.

Mr Robinson’s broadcast, which lasted an hour and was watched by around 10,000 people, took place while the jury in another linked trial was still considering its verdict.

The court was shown three videos of Mr Robinson marching up to defendants outside Leeds Crown Court.

Andrew Caldecott QC, for the attorney general said there were “inconsistencies” between accounts that Mr Robinson had given when he said he had taken appropriate measures to check reporting restrictions before broadcasting.

"Even if he did not know for certain the terms of the order he knew the existence of such an order was likely and again was subjectively reckless," Mr Caldecott said.

When cross-examining Mr Robinson, Mr Caldecott suggested he did not go to the court’s general office to check to see if the reporting restriction was still in place because he wanted to film the defendants, who he knew would arrive early at court.

“I took the view that it didn’t matter, if I wasn’t going to report on the details of the case, and that if I was only going to stick to details in the public domain, it didn’t matter,” Mr Robinson replied.

Mr Robinson, who denies the allegations, addressed supporters gathered outside, claiming he had “not broken any law”.

The English Defence League founder served two months in prison for a previous finding of contempt, which was later overturned in August 2018.

The court hearing is due to last two days.

Published: July 4, 2019 06:55 PM

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