Our British correspondent Alan Smith returns with an account of yesterday’s appeals court decision that resulted in Tommy Robinson’s release from prison after serving slightly more than two months of a thirteen-month sentence.
Previously: A Detailed Account of Tommy Robinson’s appeal
R v Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson)
Court of Appeal, Criminal Division
On appeal from the Crown Court sitting at Canterbury and Leeds
by Alan Smith
1 August 2018
The Appeal judgement was announced in Court 4 at the Royal Courts of Justice. There was a notice on the door of the court room warning the public that filming would take place, and that those not wishing to be caught on film should sit at the rear of the court.
The doors were unlocked at 10am, and a stern female official warned people not to film or take photographs or “He will put you in the cells.”
Tommy’s QC, Jeremy Dein, arrived at this time with his female junior, and they took their positions on one side of the court room.
The video monitors that featured Tommy Robinson during the appeal hearing on 22 July 2018 were turned off.
At 10.29am, a female court official said “All rise,” and Lord Burnett and Mrs Justice McGowan entered.
Lord Burnett said words similar to the following:
“I should say I’m handing down two judgements this morning, but it will only take a short time. I want silence as I read them.
“For the reasons that are given in the written judgement, the appeals are dismissed [there were faint sighs in the public gallery]. The respondent will pay costs of £5,000. The judgement will be made available in the usual way”.
Lord Burnett went on:
“Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was committed to prison for thirteen months for contempt of court on 25 May 2018, including the activation of the three month suspended committal order. The appellant made an application for an extension of time. We refuse the extension of time for Canterbury on 22 May 2017; the appellant has admitted contempt as identified at the time, and the process was fair. We allow the extension of time for Leeds, as the process was flawed. We direct that the Leeds case be reheard [anticipation in the gallery].
“Pending the rehearing, the appellant will be released [applause broke out on one side of the public gallery; Lord Burnett, annoyed, said, “No. I said silence.”] …on the condition that the appellant attends the rehearing, and that he does not approach within 400 metres of Leeds court.
“I will be referring the case to the London Recorder. Thank you”.
The court rose at 10.32am, the matter having lasted no more than three minutes.
Supporters left the building, where there was a noisy commotion outside. On the left (as one leaves the building) was a demonstration of around a dozen Socialist Workers Party activists, standing behind a barrier. Tommy supporters were on the right hand side, with two rows of police separating them (both rows of police had their backs to the SWP demonstrators). More police were standing at opposite ends, and on the other side of the road; sixty or more.
The SWP demonstrators were chanting the following phrases (each phrase was repeated five or six times, before moving onto the next one):
Tommy, go to Hell; take your Nazi mates as well
Shoot yourself like Hitler
We are black, white, muslim and jew, and we are gay
Tommy, stay in jail; take your Nazi mates as well
Nazi scum, off our streets
Scum, scum, scum
These chants were co-ordinated by a young Somali or African woman (speaking with an English accent) shouting through a loudspeaker. The other protesters were a mixture of dishevelled student types, both male and female, a middle-class woman, and a couple of black activists. The police made no reaction to the chants.
After a while, one of the Tommy supporters called out: “we don’t need a loudspeaker” and they started two chants of their own: the well known “Tommy, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy Robinson”; and “He’s coming home” (adapted from a football anthem). From time to time, a passing taxi hooted support to the Tommy supporters.
The atmosphere among the Tommy supporters was very upbeat, and many stood around chatting. After a while, a group of us decamped to the pub to celebrate.