Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the English Defence League, is to remain behind bars as three judges consider his appeal against a 13-month prison sentence for contempt of court – which he claims is excessive.
Three judges have reserved their decision in the court of appeal after hearing evidence about Robinson’s two convictions in Leeds and Canterbury for breaking reporting restrictions.
Jeremy Dein QC, representing Robinson, said the sentence imposed on him in Leeds was “manifestly excessive”.
Robinson, the founder of the far-right EDL, was found guilty of contempt of court after live-streaming a report of a trial in Leeds in May. During that trial the judge imposed reporting restrictions ordering media reports of proceedings to be postponed until the conclusion of all related cases.
Robinson was arrested while live-streaming outside the court, tried in a summary hearing, sentenced and sent to prison, all within the space of five hours.
Lord Burnett of Maldon, the lord chief justice, said he hoped the court would deliver a judgment before the end of July. Lawyers for Robinson had requested that he be released immediately, arguing that he had already served nearly two months in prison and that the Leeds conviction was the result of a hearing conducted hastily.
Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, had previously been handed a suspended sentence for contempt of court after live-streaming at another case in Canterbury in 2017.
Dein argued that the specific elements of the contempt laws Robinson had broken had not been made clear. He told the court: “The proceedings were unnecessarily and unjustifiably rushed. They were conducted in haste.”
He said Robinson, when he was brought before the court, had been willing to delete the live stream. “He did not act with impertinent defiance.”
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