UK

Tommy Robinson 'reckless' to broadcast outside court

Tommy Robinson Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Founder and former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson was cheered by supporters as he arrived at the Old Bailey in London

Ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson's Facebook Live broadcast of defendants in a criminal trial was "reckless", High Court judges have been told.

Mr Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is accused of committing contempt of court by filming defendants accused of sexual exploitation.

The hour-long broadcast, at Leeds Crown Court in May 2018, was seen by around 10,000 people, the Old Bailey heard.

Mr Robinson denies the allegations.

Lawyers for Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC said reporting restrictions had been put in place postponing the publication of any details of the case until the end of a series of linked trials involving 29 defendants.

Mr Robinson broadcast the footage from outside Leeds Crown Court on 25 May 2018, while the jury in the second trial of the series was considering its verdict.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Robinson addressed supporters outside the court ahead of the Old Bailey hearing

Outlining the prosecution case, Andrew Caldecott QC told the court there were "inconsistencies" between various accounts Mr Robinson had given of his efforts to check about reporting restrictions before the broadcast.

Mr Caldecott said Mr Robinson had been at court and could have easily discovered the details of reporting restrictions the day before his broadcast.

"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," he said.

Mr Robinson claims he took steps to establish if there was a reporting restriction but Leeds Crown Court did not inform him that it existed.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Tommy Robinson told a crowd "he could not talk about proceedings"

He responded that he could not remember, when Mr Caldecott asked if he recalled being directed to the court's general office by a security officer to check if reporting restrictions were still in place.

Mr Caldecott suggested Mr Robinson had not gone to the office because he wanted to film the defendants.

Mr Robinson replied: "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."

'Given up'

Mr Caldecott asked why Mr Robinson had not mentioned checking reporting restrictions in his evidence prepared ahead of the hearing.

Mr Robinson said he was in prison at that time and "didn't think I was coming out of there".

"I genuinely was under the impression that I had been put in jail to be killed, so I had given up," he said.

Mr Robinson confirmed he knew the jury was deliberating its verdict at the time of his broadcast.

He told the court he believed images of defendants accused of such serious crimes should be made public.

He added: "My total purpose is to raise awareness of these issues."

But he insisted he had said in the video that the defendants were innocent until proven guilty "at least six times", adding: "I make that point so clear."

He told the court his training with law firm Kingsley Napley had taught him "not to assume guilt".

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