Ugly scenes as furious Tommy Robinson supporters riot outside Parliament and burn EU flags after the EDL founder was jailed for nine months for contempt
- Tommy Robinson is jailed after Old Bailey found he committed contempt of court in Leeds in May 2018
- Supporters, including five women on mobility scooters, wave Union flags outside court in London today
- Heavy police presence as people chant English Defence League founder’s name and: ‘We want Tommy out’
- Judge says his 11 convictions for violent crime, public order offences and fraud were an aggravating factor
By Mark Duell for MailOnline, 11 July 2019
English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson arrives for his sentencing at the Old Bailey in London this morning
Tommy Robinson supporters rioted on the streets of London, set fire to European Union flags and threw bottles at police officers today as he was jailed for a second time for contempt of court for nine months – but will only be behind bars for less than ten weeks.
The English Defence League founder, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was branded a ‘liar’ by the judge as his supporters set off smoke bombs outside the Old Bailey and he called for more demonstrations, before they marched to the Houses of Parliament.
BBC journalists filming on the College Garden were verbally abused, physically intimidated and had their equipment attacked before police officers arrived.
Robinson, 36, was told the time he previously spent behind bars for confronting members of an Asian sex gang during their trial in Leeds in May 2018 would be taken into account, reducing his sentence to 19 weeks – of which he will serve half before his release.
Robinson, whose sentence was made up of six months for the Leeds contempt, plus three months for an earlier contempt committed at Canterbury Crown Court in 2017, looked at the public gallery and winked as he was led to the cells through the dock, carrying a holdall.
Outside court, Robinson’s supporters booed as news of his sentence filtered through and officers donned their helmets as violent clashes erupted. The crowd marched towards the court chanting ‘we want Tommy out’ before some began pelting police with drinks bottles and cans. Some protesters chanted ‘paedo protectors’ at officers.
His account on Telegram – which he uses after having his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles suspended – said: ‘Sentenced to prison for journalism. Time for protests to start, this is an absolute joke! Protest outside whatever prison I’m in on Saturday please.’
Robinson said two colleagues would take charge of planning a protest outside the prison he is sent to, adding: ‘Hopefully by this Saturday, I’m laying there in my cell and I can just hear all your voices outside whichever s***hole HMP I’m in. Just want to say to everyone I appreciate whilst I’m in there I know people will be fighting for me. But I’ll be fine in there.’
A prison van believed to contain Robinson later left the court to cheers from supporters, with several shouting ‘We love you, Tommy!’ as the van pulled away. At least four people were arrested over the protests by City of London – a woman aged 28 and two men aged 60 and 50 for affray, and a woman aged 61 for a public order offence.’
Supporters of Tommy Robinson protest outside the Houses of Parliament at Parliament Square in London this afternoon
Before the hearing had even begun this morning, his supporters, including five women on mobility scooters, waved Union flags outside the court amid a heavy police presence and people chanted his name.
Robinson walked through a throng of people to get to the court at about 9.40am, wearing paint-splattered ripped blue jeans, a black T-shirt – which said ‘convicted of journalism’ on the front and ‘Britain = North Korea’ on the back – and a badge reading ‘I support soldiers A-Z’.
But Robinson, who attended media law training in June 2017, was ten minutes late for the start of his hearing after speaking to his supporters outside the court, with the judge telling him: ‘It’s not a very good start.’
Robinson, who is from Luton, Bedfordshire, and travelled by train, arrived amid chaotic scenes – with scores of supporters blocking nearby roads as they went to greet him. He also was mobbed by fans as he made his way towards the court building with his legal team.
Passing sentence today, Dame Victoria Sharp said: ‘We are in no doubt that the custody threshold is crossed in this case, in particular having regard to the common law contempt that the respondent committed. Nothing less than a custodial penalty would properly reflect the gravity of the conduct we have identified.’
She said that the purpose of sentencing for contempt was ‘punishment and deterrence of the contemnor’, adding: ‘The court is also concerned to demonstrate its determination to uphold the rule of law.’