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The wind can blow a smokescreen either way

Two stories related to freedom of speech are doing the rounds tonight:

The BBC reports: YouTuber Alison Chabloz guilty over anti-Semitic songs

Chabloz is a nasty and stupid woman, whose delusions will be given more credibility by the fact that she was persecuted for them.

The Hull Daily Mail reports: Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson ‘being held in Hull prison’ after arrest

I do not know what to make of Robinson himself, nor of his arrest. There are some complications about contempt of court and his breaching the terms of his earlier suspended sentence that, frankly, I cannot summon up the energy to investigate; it may not be as simple a case of persecution as it is presented as being in this PJ Media story. The authorities imagine that by placing reporting restrictions on Robinson’s case they will make people think he is as clearly bad as Chabloz is. The actual effect is to make the public wonder whether she, like he, might have something to be said in her favour.

109 comments to The wind can blow a smokescreen either way

  • Paul Marks

    I have never liked Tommy Robinson – but he has been stitched up, and not for the first time.

    As for secret “trials” and secret imprisonment – Fascism, it is Fascism. To imprison someone for expressing their non violent opinions (which is what this is REALLY about) is wrong – and do so in secret (“reporting restrictions”) makes it even worse. His enemies (the unelected judges and co) call Mr Robinson a “Fascist” – and, I repeat, I have never liked the man. But one judges (no pun intended) people by what they do (not by whether one likes them) – and it is the judge (and other such) who are the FASCISTS, because they behave in a Fascist way. They have their opponents arrested for expressing their political opinions – and they engage in secret “trials” and imprisonments (“reporting restrictions”).

    It was pointed out that Mr Robinson would be danger of being murdered in prison, by Islamic gangs. The judge did not disagree – but claimed that Mr Robinson had brought it upon himself (essentially – he-has-it-coming). So if Mr Robinson is murdered should the judge be arrested? After all he would have Mr Robinson to his death – and did so because he disagreed with Mr Robinson’s political opinions (if a judge does not like your political speech he has a right to have your murdered?). This has also happened before – a man flung some bacon at a Mosque, YES a BAD thing to do. As with throwing pork at a synagogue, such a man deserves a punch on the nose. But this man was SENT TO PRISON – for more than a year, he was abused in prison and eventually murdered. And the legal establishment (the judges and so on) appear highly amused by the abuse and the murder – this is not good. We even have (in various trials) Cod Theology from the bench – with various judges pretending that terrorists have “betrayed” or “perverted” Islam (when they have done no such thing), which is a “peaceful religion” (which it is not). Judges should not be giving lectures on theology from the bench – and if they insist on delivering such a lecture they should at least refrain from TELLING A PACK OF LIES.

    As for not being allowed to publically read out a local newspaper report on an Islamic rape gang (i.e. a group of people emulating Muhammed, the creator of Islam, by sexually enslaving infidel females) – well unless the newspaper staff are arrested, this was just an EXCUSE to “get” Mr Robinson – and for the third time I state that I not like Mr Robinson. However, I dislike a Fascist establishment a lot more than I dislike Mr Robinson.

    Remember no matter how much one dislikes Mr Robinson – he has said nothing that such people as Prime Minister Gladstone and Prime Minister Winston Churchill did not say (and they both said it in much stronger language) – would the modern establishment have Gladstone and Churchill arrested? YES – I think they would.

  • Confused Old Misfit

    The (apparent) unseemly haste and reporting gag order are not sitting well with those of us observing the matter from a distance. That a person can be arrested, tried, convicted and incarcerated within 8 hours for what appears to us as a minor offense is incredible. British justice has not covered itself with glory.

  • Roué le Jour

    Misfit,
    To be clear, he was out on parole for a similar “offence”. Breach of parole means immediate return to prison. It’s the same in the US and elsewhere.

  • mike

    Some people simply have not been paying attention. Tommy Robinson has endured endless police harassment for years, been to prison several times, survived attempted murder, fought off numerous physical assaults and has still carried on trying to highlight the problem of Islamic gangs going unpunished in Britain’s smaller towns. Meanwhile, the dinner-party types in London continue to barely notice, because he, and the people who support him are plebs – at once seething with racial hatred and too stupid to be aware of the law.

  • Paul Marks

    The quotation remarks around the word “offence” are the key Roue le Jour.

    Reporting is not a crime – unless one is NOT in a free country.

    Confused Old Misfit – yes the gag order. “Do not talk about this court appearance and imprisonment – OR ELSE”.

    The more the judges and co deny they are Fascists – the more and more they BEHAVE like Fascists. They really have to make up their minds – either admit they are Fascists, or STOP BEHAVING LIKE THIS. Stop making threats – stop using the fear of punishment to try and gag people.

    No one is preventing the judge from saying “I think your opinions stink – and I hate you personally”, it is the trying to gag people and the threats of sending them to prison, which are unacceptable.

    And notice Roue le Jour – it is quickly gone from attacking Mr Robinson (a man I have never liked) to attacking EVERYONE.

    A gag order on reporting the court appearance and the imprisonment.

    “It is the same in the US” – if it is, it should NOT be. For example when a judge demands that taxes be increased (to fund their friends in the schools and universities) they should be told NO – just NO.

    Ditto the endless mad decisions (that had no connection at all with the law or the Constitution) from the 1960s on – the end of Vagrancy Laws (by judicial WHIM), the ending of traditional State Senates (again on a judicial WHIM), the scrapping of abortion laws (without a vote – just on judicial WHIM). At some point people have got to start saying NO to the people in funny robes.

    After all a basic point of the American Revolution was that putting a special robe on someone (or putting a wig on their head) does NOT make them God. All the judges ruled against the people – repeatedly, but the people had their answer – and it was NO.

    I do not agree with the Indian policy of Andrew Jackson, most certainly not, but he had a point about the judges “the Supreme Court has made its decision – now let it try and enforce it”, they did not want a fight (a physical fight) and so the men in funny robes got all bashful and went away.

  • bobby b

    This has become a very big deal in the USA. To be fair, there are really two issues.

    Yeah, Robinson is an idiot. He managed to get a probationary sentence last year when he clearly violated the (allowable under English law) gag order on reporting on ongoing criminal trials in a manner that could effect the thinking of jurors. Then, while still subject to that probationary status, he did the exact same thing, again, in full view of the press and police and the judge (pictured in several accounts watching Robinson from a second-story window) and he acted surprised when he got busted for it.

    It’s a big deal over here (except for the MSM, who have tread very lightly around this story) because the underlying law goes against every grain of our concept of liberty.

    I cannot imagine someone here trying to stop reporting of ongoing criminal trials. To me, instances of government exercising raw power over the liberty interests of citizens is the exact time when reporting is most called for. If you have the freedom to report on everything but that, you have no freedom.

    The judge who gave him probation has been quoted as telling him the case wasn’t about about “freedom of the press, nor about legitimate journalism, and not about political correctness,” but “about preserving the integrity of the jury to continue without people being intimidated or being affected by irresponsible and inaccurate ‘reporting.’”

    The day when judges or other parts of government get to define “irresponsible and inaccurate reporting” is the day freedom dies.

  • Regional

    The rule of thumb for free speech is keep your head down and your moth shut.

  • K

    Bottom line, Robinson tried to make himself a martyr and the British government has now accommodated him. This will allow his comrades to coalesce a resistance around him. Pretty much activist boilerplate, actually.

  • Regional

    K,
    Will he get a nice apartment like Hitler did?

  • lucklucky

    Amazing that British people tolerate this. Amazing.

  • Eric

    The day when judges or other parts of government get to define “irresponsible and inaccurate reporting” is the day freedom dies.

    It’s difficult to keep a government honest under the best of circumstances, and a lot of mischief can be done under the radar using this kind of open-ended power.

    The other thing that bothers me is that while it took decades for the crown to bring cases against the grooming gangs, Robinson went from arrest to sentence in less than a day. I realize it’s an existing sentence that got re-imposed, but still. Those are some well-greased wheels of justice.

  • James

    Whilst watching a live stream of the protest outside Downing Street, I saw a protester ask a cop about the rightness of the situation and how it relates to free speech.

    The response was slightly garbled due to bandwidth, but what I heard clearly was “You are free to think what you want, (now garbled) but can’t say it.” The person videoing clarified, with horror, what I thought I heard.

    The decision to arrest him probably went as far up as the Home Secretary, and perhaps farther. Let that sink in.

  • jim jones

    We are well on the way to a Police State thanks to Theresa May

  • john in cheshire

    A lot of people saying they dislike, hate, detest Tommy Robinson but there seems to be an absence of reasons for such words to be used against him. In my opinion, Tommy Robinson is one of a very small group of people who are doing something other, more powerful and influential people are failing to do and he should be applauded for his bravery and his campaigning activities.

  • So if Mr Robinson is murdered should the judge be arrested? After all he After all he would have [sent] Mr Robinson to his death – and did so because he disagreed with Mr Robinson’s political opinions (Paul Marks, May 26, 2018 at 11:18 pm)

    A minor point of fact: some other reporting I’d seen referred to the judge as a ‘she’, not a he, and gave the judge’s name as “Denise Marson”.

    I find the effective or complicit gagging of this story more sinister than the arrest. (As Natalie notes, there are probably some legal specifics one should know – I will find out what I can but other commenters are very welcome to beat me to it.) That parts of the UK are experiencing unusually intense lightning strikes is a story today; this arrest not so much.

  • Amazing that British people tolerate this. Amazing.

    What is the point of that statement? Millions of Americans want to take away your right to own a weapon.

    Amazing that American people tolerate this. Amazing.

    See what a true yet daft statement that is?

  • NickM

    I dunno. There seems across the blogosphere and even a pundit on BBC breakfast an agreement that Tommy Robinson was stitched-up. And much the same line as here on Ms Chabloz. It is hopeful.

  • System Administrator (Blog, Website)

    The terms of Yaxley-Lennon’s (aka: Robinson’s) foolhardiness in risking his suspended sentence, and why it was brought about in the first place, are very clearly explained by the judge who laid down the reasoning, here:

    https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/coc-yaxley-lennon-20170522.pdf

    It is detailed. It is easy to read. It explains the rationale. It includes pros-and-cons of imprisonment. I am a free-speech activist, but I also believe in the rule of law — and changing that law where it is illiberal — and I agree with the judge.

    I also think that Robinson is a complete tit, but that’s aside.

    If you want to see some less hairy, more open discussion of this, try Reddit: https://old.reddit.com/r/ukpolitics/comments/8m0kwn/tommy_robinson_arrested_outside_court/

  • System Administrator (Blog, Website)

    Per the judge:

    This contempt hearing is not about free speech. This is not about the freedom of the press. This is not about legitimate journalism; this is not about political correctness; this is not about whether one political viewpoint is right or another. It is about justice, and it is about ensuring that a trial can be carried out justly and fairly. It is about ensuring that a jury are not in any way inhibited from carrying out their important function. It is about being innocent until proven guilty. It is not about people prejudging a situation and going round to that court and publishing material, whether in print or online, referring to defendants as “Muslim paedophile rapists”. A legitimate journalist would not be able to do that and under the strict liability rule there would be no defence to publication in those terms. It is pejorative language which prejudges the case, and it is language and reporting – if reporting indeed is what it is – that could have had the effect of substantially derailing the trial. As I have already indicated, because of what I knew was going on I had to take avoiding action in order to make sure that the integrity of this trial was preserved, that justice was preserved and that the trial could continue to completion without people being intimidated into reaching conclusions about it, or into being affected by “irresponsible and inaccurate reporting”. If something of the nature of that which you put out on social media had been put into the mainstream press I would have been faced with applications from the advocates concerned, I have no doubt, to either say something specific to the jury, or worse, to abandon the trial and to start again. That is the kind of thing that actions such as these can and do have, and that is why you have been dealt with in the way in which you have and why I am dealing with this case with the seriousness which I am.

    I am rightly reminded that everything else that has gone on in this trial by other groups or other individuals in similar attempts to ‘get at’ (to put it in shorthand)the defendants is not something that I should take into account, and that of course is quite right. There is no evidence at all to suggest that you were in any way involved in any of those other actions and I do not in any way hold you responsible for them. But it is part of the background, and it is part of the reason why I had to take the avoiding action that I did take and why I had to move to take the action insofar as you are concerned of having you brought to this court.

    I find that this was the commission of an offence under section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925, but even if I am wrong about that I do find clear evidence of contempt of court in this case, for the reasons that I have given.

  • Henry Cybulski

    “Amazing that American people tolerate this. Amazing.”

    But they don’t. That’s why Americans still have lots of guns and you Brits don’t.

  • JadedLibertarian

    I thought jurors were forbidden from reading the news during a trial so they wouldn’t be prejudiced? So surely what someone says outside the court room shouldn’t matter?

    When did the law change to give judges carte blanche to police the speech of the entire nation for the duration of the trial? That’s completely mental.

  • Io_

    I thought jurors were forbidden from reading the news during a trial so they wouldn’t be prejudiced? So surely what someone says outside the court room shouldn’t matter?

    I believe the US had a similar rule during the trial of OJ Simpson, and look how that turned out. Unless you intend to hermetically seal the jurors in a box when they are not in the courtroom they are going to be exposed to outside noise.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Thoughts:

    The UK law forbidding filming in court is stupid.

    To my mind a “court” in the means the courtroom. Not the buildings.

    We do not officially know what Robinson is supposed to have done wrong on Friday, or even if it was Robinson.

    It is interesting that some fairly ancient laws are being used. The gagging order was enabled by 1981 legislation. Yes, a law passed by Margaret Thatcher.

    I find this rather sniffy attitude to Robinson bizarre. In most of the interviews with him he seems reasonable and lucid and his central point: that Muslims are treated differently from non-Muslims, unimpeachable. Maybe it’s because he don’t talk proper. Or something.

    Never confuse legality and morality. I cannot see that from what we know that whoever it was did anything wrong.

  • bobby b

    “I thought jurors were forbidden from reading the news during a trial so they wouldn’t be prejudiced?”

    There are two ways to address the problem of jurors being influenced by information outside of the approved evidence and testimony. You can restrict what the jurors can hear, or you can restrict what everyone else can say.

    In the USA, we restrict what the jurors can hear. In the normal case, the judge just instructs them not to read anything about the trial they’re attending. In the rare case when there’s a clear danger that outside influences could affect their decision, they’re sequestered – they’re stuck in a hotel during the trial, and kept from television and newspapers and computers.

    In the UK, they restrict all of society instead. The jurors are free to go home and watch TV and read news because no one (in selected cases in which the judge has issued a gag order) can transmit any information about the case until it’s over.

    Regarding the unseemly haste with which Robinson was arrested, adjudicated, and sent off – that’s pretty standard in probation violation cases. When he caught his original break – when he was sentenced for the same crime a year ago, but then had his sentence stayed in lieu of probation time – he was given the conditions of his probation. He was told “don’t do this, or this, or that, or we’ll make you serve the sentence that you have received.” He likely signed a probation agreement not to do these things, and was warned that he wouldn’t receive the full protection of criminal rights if he was accused of violating those conditions. That’s why everything could occur so rapidly – you don’t get a full trial with all of the attendant discovery rights that a new criminal charge would trigger. You get hauled before the judge ASAP, and if the judge decides you broke your probationary conditions, off you go to serve your original sentence.

    So, he had a probationary sentence from the original judge last year, had those thirteen months of prison time hanging over his head for the two or three years that his probation would have lasted, and violated those conditions before his probation expired, so the new judge simply imposed his sentence. (Normally, a PV would be handled by the judge who gave him probation, but it’s a standard judge-to-judge courtesy to simply transfer the file to whatever new judge is involved if they request it.)

    And I don’t think he knowingly decided to martyr himself. He sounded surprised when they arrested him, and he told a friend at the scene to get him a lawyer – which he would have already arranged if he planned all of this. He was just plain dumb.

  • System Administrator (Blog, Website)

    “To my mind a “court” in the means the courtroom. Not the buildings.”

    * Patrick, you may read discussion of that in this very document: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/coc-yaxley-lennon-20170522.pdf

  • Perry de Havilland (London) (May 27, 2018 at 8:30 am), while I agree that it adds little to the thread to say one is “shocked, shocked” to learn what is done in the UK these days, I have to agree with Henry Cybulski (May 27, 2018 at 9:20 am) that there is a great gulf fixed between hearing people use their first amendment rights to say ‘hate speech’ should be criminal and actually being arrested for expressing an un-PC view. If we got back to the legal state of the 80s or 90s, when hate speech was a mockable lefty fad, not a reality, we’d see the difference.

    It might be a more sensible response to note the gag orders on the Wisconsin anti-Walker no-knock raids and say it was amazing how long that took to become public.

    It may be relevant to note Britain was once the country where stories of police chases and confrontations would end, “A man is now helping police with their enquiries.” I am immensely unimpressed with the judge(s) and the sentence length imposed, but I grant there may be slightly more need to engage with details here than with the typical free-speech-hating legal novelty we’re so sadly accustomed to of late, and possibly to resent the one-sidedness rather than just the innate viability of whatever argument is put forward. (I’m not saying it is, merely noting what I don’t yet fully know.)

  • pete

    It is worrying when reporting restrictions are imposed on certain trials when they concern crimes similar to many others which the state’s agencies tried so hard to ignore.

    They seem like damage limitation by people who are disappointed that the trials are taking place at all.

  • NickM

    If, as seems a commonplace belief, Tommy Robinson is a vainglorious media whore and a nasty piece of work then why aren’t half to two thirds of our elected politicians also in jail?

    (apologies to Harry S Truman).

  • bobby b

    System Administrator (Blog, Website)
    May 27, 2018 at 9:02 am

    “The terms of Yaxley-Lennon’s (aka: Robinson’s) foolhardiness in risking his suspended sentence, and why it was brought about in the first place, are very clearly explained by the judge who laid down the reasoning, here:

    https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/coc-yaxley-lennon-20170522.pdf

    Valuable document for understanding all of this. Quick and pithy. This was the first judge’s lecture to and sentencing of Robinson last year. She’s a clear writer and technically-inclined in her analysis, and she ably defends and applies both the no-photo law and a contempt of court charge. If one sets aside the overarching disagreement about speech in a society, her analysis was impeccable.

    I’m still confused about one thing. Everything I’ve read indicates that today Robinson was packed away to prison for thirteen months. But the document above – his original but stayed sentence – indicates that the judge sentenced him to three months imprisonment (p.11, lines G-F), and then stayed execution of the sentence if he could make it through eighteen months of probationary supervision.

    He didn’t make it through to completion – he violated the terms of his probation – so he should, by this information, have been sent off today to serve his three months. I can’t figure out where the extra ten months come from.

  • Henry Cybulski: But they don’t. That’s why Americans still have lots of guns and you Brits don’t.

    Well done, you completely missed the point. And what you say also depends where you live in the USA, but that is not the point, it is that sweeping statements like “The Americans think this, the British think that” just makes you look like a complete arse.

  • Interesting and useful links, System Administrator, it does cast this in a rather different light.

  • Rod Liddle’s comment in the Sunday Wapping Liar err Times seems bang on:

    No defence for West Yorks plod
    The English Defence League founder, Tommy Robinson, turned up in Leeds on Friday to film people going into the trial of several Asian men accused of “grooming” white girls. He did not speak, chant, accost anyone or do anything but point his phone at attendees from a distance. Still, several coppers bundled him into a police van, accusing him of a breach of the peace.

    I’m not remotely a fan of the unpleasant Robinson. But wouldn’t it have been lovely if West Yorkshire police had acted with as much rigour and alacrity when, in an earlier case, they were told of the horrific sexual assaults taking place on their patch?

    PS Thanks for the linky to my earlier rant on the grooming scandal

  • bobby b

    Perry de Havilland (London)
    May 27, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    “Well done, you completely missed the point.”

    You shouldn’t take it as a societal insult when we in the US get flummoxed when you in the UK don’t always live by the terms of our Constitution. It’s just that we’ve always considered us all as being equals and compatriots, and it seldom occurs to us that your societal values don’t always match ours – they mostly do – which is why Henry Cybulski’s word choice – “amazed” – matched how I was feeling as I first read about this. We have structural differences, but we’ve always shared a common “Rights of Man” outlook, and so the seeming acceptance of this incident is . . . amazing. To us.

  • bobby b

    BTW, Perry, are you aware that you’re still having WordPress caching issues?

  • lucklucky

    ” Amazing that British people tolerate this. Amazing.

    What is the point of that statement? Millions of Americans want to take away your right to own a weapon.

    Amazing that American people tolerate this. Amazing.

    See what a true yet daft statement that is?”

    First i am not American, i am Portuguese, second always looked to Britain as a light in world of tyranny. If it was in the past compared to other countries it is not anymore, in fact it seems to be worse than a couple European countries.
    Today the world center of Marxist/Fascist thought is the Anglo-Saxon world, and that is because today’s priests are Marxists: journalists, teachers.

  • System Administrator (Blog, Website)

    > bobby b: “so he should, by this information, have been sent off today to serve his three months”

    Quote: “then that sentence of three months would be activated, and that would be on top of anything else that you were given by any other court”

    One presumes, therefore, that he got sentenced to 10 months, plus the 3 suspended ones.

    Are we done here, now?

  • Henry Cybulski

    Um, Perry, sometimes sweeping statements are for the most part true, sometimes universally true.

  • helios

    The ruling was well written but it wasn’t completely clear what Stephen was convicted of. Because it talks about a violation of section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 but looking at the Act it looks like the maximum fine is £50.

    ‘and if any person acts in contravention of this section he shall, on summary conviction, be liable in respect of each offence to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.’

    [https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/15-16/86/section/41#reference-key-75484af3e3b13e74575291e0ba607dfe]

    However, even though the judge talks about section 41 what he is originally sentenced on seems to be based on contempt of court and describing the alleged perpetrators as ‘muslim paedophiles’ instead of ‘alleged paedophiles who are muslim’.

    Looking at section 41 it seems that he is clearly in breach by videoing the defendants as they enter the court building so it seems the court has good cause to set aside his suspended sentence. But this only explains 3 months of the 13 month sentence he has allegedly received. I’m guessing again they didn’t use Section 41 but rather found him in violation of some other law.

  • terence patrick hewett

    This being England – it is in the end hilariously all about social snobbery – Gordon Brown’s “bigoted woman” and Baroness Nu-wotsit are typical. Tommy Robinson is just an extrapolation.

    A re-reading of Emeritus Prof. John Carey’s book “The Intellectuals and the Masses” and the companion volume “What Good are the Arts” goes a long way to explaining the why people like Tommy Robinson so violently exercise the bowels of the Great and the Good. A very funny and subversive review of the works may be enjoyed thanks to the Grumpy Old Bookman Michael Allen at the link below.

    http://grumpyoldbookman.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=carey

  • System Administrator (Blog, Website)

    helios: how about this:

    – he gets nicked
    – he gets 10 months custody for his behaviour on the day in question, same rationale as before, also: repeat offence and wilful
    – he gets another 3 months tacked-on, because suspended
    – 10 + 3 = 13

    …or are you just hell-bent in trying to pretend there’s a conspiracy?

  • System Administrator (Blog, Website), May 27, 2018 at 7:27 pm, you are not addressing the point that others are querying.

    If Mr Robinson had a 3 months suspended sentence then he can (presumably) be taken to prison and kept there for 3 months without further trial if he violated the conditions of his probation. Likewise if it were 13 months. However it is natural for people to think that if it were only 3 months then a further 10 months requires a further trial, conviction and sentence – for which there has as yet been no time, the “day in question” being IIUC Friday. So either 13 months is a widely repeated misprint for 3 months, or Mr Robinson already had a suspended 13 month sentence, or … .something.

    or are you just hell-bent in trying to pretend there’s a conspiracy?

    As regards this particular point, it is just an apparent discrepancy, not conspiracy, that is being queried in the first instance.

  • bobby b

    System Administrator (Blog, Website)
    May 27, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    “Are we done here, now?”

    Quite the dismissive tone from someone seemingly defending a system that chooses to sequester information and speech instead of just a few jurors. Sort of a “they were just following orders, and they followed them well” theme. I can understand why you’d want this discussion done and over.

  • Mr Ecks

    System Admin etc–I thought this was PdeH’s blog–what “system” is it you administer?

    Still its good to know who your enemies are. Thanks for the heads up.

    Robinson’s crime is exactly one of not shutting up about the sufferings of British Girls when the cultural Marxist scum of the boss class want him silent.

    Screw the COC beef–the “Law”can roll it up and insert it sideways up her blindfold arse. And the boss classes version of the rule of law with it.

    The pre-trial press character assassination bullshit spewed out about assorted aging white slebs accused of sex crimes (from 40 to 50 years ago with zero evidence or corroboration) proves exactly what “not prejudicing” a trial is worth in this country.

  • System Administrator (Blog, Website)

    >I can understand why you’d want this discussion done and over.

    (yet more conspiracy theories, yay)

    you guys clearly aren’t aware of the powers of a judge in their own courtroom – in a crown court, for god’s sake – regards contempt proceedings; they have quite astonishing powers, and quite summary ones, too:

    https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/contempt-court-reporting-restrictions-and-restrictions-public-access-hearings

    >The summary procedure at Rule 48.5 applies in the Crown Court where the court observes, or someone reports to the court, a contravention of s3 of the Criminal Procedure (Attendance of Witnesses) Act 1965 (disobeying a witness summons), s20 of the Juries Act 1974 (disobeying a jury summons), s8 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 (obtaining details of a jury’s deliberations, etc.), s9 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 (without the court’s permission, recording the proceedings, etc.) or any other conduct with which the court can deal as, or as if it were, a criminal contempt of court. Section 14 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 provides for a maximum period of committal of 2 years in the Crown Court.

    See the reference to s9; contempt of court is one of those spaces where you do not fuck about, because you what the judge says, goes. Judge says “10 months, take him down” and that’s prettymuch it. That’s the due process.

    Niall writes: “it is natural for people to think that … 10 months requires a further trial, conviction and sentence” – but people who think that, are wrong.

    If the judge in a Crown Court thinks you’re being a tit, you’re screwed. QED.

    Have a good evening.

    ps: Mr Ecks: I feed the hamsters.

  • bobby b

    “(yet more conspiracy theories, yay)”

    Uh, no, I understand that the current judge can summarily punish contempt especially when he has witnessed it himself. That’s why I noted above that the judge was seen watching Robinson from his window. I wouldn’t be surprised at the speed of such a sentence – I just haven’t seen any information confirming that that’s what happened. Gag orders tend to slow the spread of information.

    You just seem to want to ignore the issue of how your courts and government place the financial and efficiency value of not having to sequester juries over the rights of a people to know what its government is doing. You’ve done a nice job of documenting how the courts have punctiliously followed the rules. My point has to do with the philosophy behind the rules.

    Someone famous once got his trains running on time. You’d like to focus on his schedules. I’d like to discuss his approach to leadership.

  • Mr Ecks

    “I feed the hamsters.”

    And well-suited to the task you are.

  • Chip

    Oh please, there are so many laws on the UK books that we would all be questioned, arrested, summoned, fined or jailed if the authorities took an interest.

    The point is that the state selects which laws it wants to enforce. Rape thousands of children and they look the other way for years. Talk about people who rape children and you’re sentenced and jailed within hours with a press ban as a bonus.

    I’m with the poster who highlighted the difference between the UK and the US. While Britons lie prostate before a steamrolling state and propagandist media, America is buying a record number of guns and in the midst ofa deregulation tsunami.

    They fight tyranny. We just quibble over whether tyranny should look like Corbyn or May.

  • Chip

    You sound like Himmler’s secretary. I’m sure he meticulously dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s in the service of the law too.

    The law didn’t care when 11-year-olds were being gang raped on an industrial scale. The BBC now reports 54 rape gangs across the country.

    But the law suddenly cares when some nincompoop is streaming a video on the street or tossing a piece of bacon at a mosque.

    The law is an instrument for good and evil. A law is not good because it’s a law.

  • Thailover

    Tommy Robinson is a political prisoner. There is no justice in this case. His ethnic national views are, simply put…dumb, but there is nothing “dangerous” about a guy with dumb views, or every third bloke with a beer in his hands in the local pub should be locked up.

    The UK media gag order is rather telling. And sorry judge, you’re wrong. Violating rights in the name of “justice” is a self contradiction that undermines the concept of rights and therefore all possible justice. If you’re worried about the jurists, then sequester them. If you are worried about them being murdered by Islamists after the fact, (if they do in fact find the defendants guilty), then note the murderous influence of Islam. Don’t pretend that a universally reviled bloke with an iPhone standing on the street is the problem.

  • Thailover

    P.S. BTW, the UK CONVICTED a silly man for teaching a dog bad dog tricks. The UK is arresting people…correction, a shit-load of people, for “mean tweets”, whilst they turned a blind eye towards muslim “grooming” child torture and rape prostitution rings for decades.

    Anyone who isn’t aware that the UK IS NOW distopian and Orwellian is either clueless or lying to themselves.

    ‘Frogs in a heating pot.

    This Tommy Robinson thing isn’t a wake up call about a possible negative future, it’s a current status report.

  • Thailover

    Paul wrote, “would the modern establishment have Gladstone and Churchill arrested? YES – I think they would.”

    Interesting story, I was in an Irish themed pub ran by British ex-pats (friends of mine) in Pattaya Thailand a few years ago. A liberal-type English bloke who owned another bar was in there a bit drunk. He was talking ill of Thatcher. I remember the Reagan years, but didn’t pay much attention to Thatcher at the time. Then he started trash-talking Churchill. I said, “if it wasn’t for Churchill, you would be speaking German right now.” You could have heard a pin drop. Apparently, the protocol is to let big mouth drunks have their say and keep having their say…loudly. He challenged me in some way, (I don’t remember how exactly), and I said, “come on over here. I’ll feed you my beer bottle, cocksucker”.

    Then the bar owner intervened and dubbed me the problem. LOL. It seems that Brits and Americans have quite different ideas of when and how much tolerance is due re: drunks. I’m quite the civilized and nice guy…until I’m not. 😎

  • JadedLibertarian

    I had no idea things worked this way. Given the absurdity of the outcome of this law it clearly needs to be changed.

    We’re not allowed to talk about the trials
    We’re not allowed to talk about the people who talk about the trials
    We’re not allowed to talk about the imprisonment of the people who talked about the trials
    We’re not allowed to talk about the thousands of people who marched to protest the imprisonment of the people who talked about the trials

    I can only assume there were people wandering down Whitehall the other day without a clue as to WTF was going on as the legacy media wasn’t talking about it. I suppose if Mr Robinson gets knifed in prison, or if his supporters stormed Downing Street Winter-palace style, we wouldn’t be allowed to hear about that either.

    I’ve seen some stupidity in the UK over the years, but this is right up there.

  • James Strong

    @Thailover:
    if you threatened to bottle someone in a bar then you ARE the problem.
    Did he challenge your views or did he threaten you with violence? You don’t remember(?).
    Why didn’t you invite him to step outside and use your fists?

  • As bobby b says, gag orders do restrict the flow of information.. So, as regards,

    you guys clearly aren’t aware of the powers of a judge in their own courtroom – in a crown court, for god’s sake – regards contempt proceedings (System Administrator, Blog, Website, May 27, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    that’s not quite the issue. The initial, merely factual, point was whether the prior suspended sentence explained the whole – as could have been understood from what reporting there has been – or bobby b’s “judge watching from a window” meant that the phrase “in their own courtroom” was to be understood in a broad sense.

    Establishing the facts merely opens the opportunity to assess where this event lies on the two axes

    – quite normal for UK court judges to look out of the window and sentence what they see for contempt versus quite an innovation

    and

    – should have been expected by anyone standing there live-streaming the defendants versus a PC activist would have have been safe as houses

    At the near end of both these axes would be good news if true, but both recent history and gag orders do nothing to help one feel sure that’s what we will learn in the end.

    As against that, let us consider one possible argument for the judge. Is it possible that PC activists are looking for ways to quash a conviction? Is there rational fear that a single un-dotted ‘i’ will be exploited to get them out in a few years? (If, that is, they are sentenced to more years than parole will make few.) It is sadly a point we – and an honest judge – might have to consider. If 10 months extra was imposed by the judge then I doubt this exculpating explanation, but if an already-sentenced suspended 3 months had merely been invoked, one might have considered it.

  • System Administrator (Blog, Website)

    > Is it possible that PC activists are looking for ways to quash a conviction?

    Nope; the whole point of putting Robinson away, and suppressing coverage, is to avoid prejudicing (and throwing) the trial of people accused of rape.

    Let’s spell this out: you guys, if you had any consistency at all, would be being self-defeating right now: you’re complaining about something which has been done in order to assure the smooth and uninterrupted trial of people accused of the selfsame things that (“The law didn’t care when…”) you are above saying that the law does not take seriously.

    What Robinson was doing could have caused the whole trial to be thrown out, and the accused would be free to walk the streets; and then you would be complaining about *that*, too.

    [Some of] You are literally trying to undermine your own goals, except perhaps for Niall who appears just to be trying to win a logical argument upon cherry-picked facts. Yes, Niall, there is a very rational fear if the trial got thrown out on the basis that the accused could not get a fair trial, because of media (on the back of Robinson’s actions) reports saying they “they must be guilty”, then the accused would escape trial and everyone here – from the legal wannabes to the cryptoracists – would be frothing even more than they already are.

  • bobby b

    You continue to avoid the main point – that free societies sequester jurors, not information. A fair trial can be held both ways. A free society cannot exist in one of them.

  • System Administrator (Blog, Website)

    Bobby:

    >You continue to avoid the main point – that free societies sequester jurors, not information.
    >A fair trial can be held both ways. A free society cannot exist in one of them.

    Well…

    (a) [scrolls back to check; yep] that’s not the main point, but

    (b) I kinda 70/30 agree with you; I don’t like it, but the British perspective seems to be an attempt (not least) to avoid polluting the pool of potential replacement jurors, as well as the ones already in-trial, on the basis that “it will all come out in the wash, eventually”.

    Compare “High-Profile Cases Make It Difficult To Find Impartial Juries” at http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2015/02/09/high-profile-cases-make-it-difficult-to-find-impartial-juries

  • Bulldog Drumond

    It is a difference in tactics really, not principles Bobby. As stated in the judgement it is about securing a fair trial and whilst I do not doubt the Establishment loath Robinson, and my initial reason was much like many commenters here, I am (1) now seeing this as a legit contempt issue (2) in spite of my well known opposition to censorship, I don’t actually have a problem with the notion of subjudice restrictions, as long as that is really what they are. I realise these will not be popular views.

  • Mr Ecks

    And were the Jury looking at Robinson’s live feed? So how the Hell does his use of the phrase “alleged rapist” effect any result? When the Jury were already inside the building.

    And again the white slebs were tried in the fucking Press long before any court case. Tried against a background of state and media created hysteria about paedos that amounted to near mania. If an unprejudiced trial is really wanted then no defendant should be publicly named or have “details” of allegations made public.

    Official COCrot all of it.

  • System Administrator (Blog, Website)

    Ecks writes: “And were the Jury looking at Robinson’s live feed? So how the Hell does his use of the phrase “alleged rapist” effect any result? When the Jury were already inside the building.”

    Great question!

    The way that this works is different from what you presume; what happens is the media – currently unable to report the case-in-progress – suddenly gets the opportunity to report “meta” stories about Robinson’s livestream, repeating what he said, etc; the trial defence then is able to throw its toys out of the pram, claim “Waa! The whole trial is prejudiced now!”, and the trial becomes unsustainable because it becomes an argument-about-an-argument; and then it collapses.

    Hence the commentary in: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/coc-yaxley-lennon-20170522.pdf

    It is about justice, and it is about ensuring that a trial can be carried out justly and fairly. It is about ensuring that a jury are not in any way inhibited from carrying out their important function.

    and

    It is pejorative language which prejudges the case, and it is language and reporting – if reporting indeed is what it is – that could have had the effect of substantially derailing the trial. As I have already indicated, because of what I knew was going on I had to take avoiding action in order to make sure that the integrity of this trial was preserved, that justice was preserved and that the trial could continue to completion without people being intimidated into reaching conclusions about it, or into being affected by “irresponsible and inaccurate reporting”. If something of the nature of that which you put out on social media had been put into the mainstream press I would have been faced with applications from the advocates concerned, I have no doubt, to either say something specific to the jury, or worse, to abandon the trial and to start again. That is the kind of thing that actions such as these can and do have, and that is why you have been dealt with in the way in which you have and why I am dealing with this case with the seriousness which I am.

    …and the summary justice explanation in https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/contempt-court-reporting-restrictions-and-restrictions-public-access-hearings

    Generally, resort to the summary procedure will be justified where there is a need for the court to act decisively, to show that its authority has not been undermined, and to demonstrate that behaviour of the kind perpetrated will never be tolerated and that it will be dealt with quickly and severely.

    All of these things run together.

    In conclusion: If you actually want the people on trial to face justice, don’t fuck about on the fringes/try to stir-up-shit, to make things worse, to jeopardise the prosecution, and to turn yourself into a martyr. Because if you do you’re just a narcissistic little tit, not actually interested in justice.

  • An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!

  • Mr Ed

    The power of the Courts in England to punish contempt is rooted in the ‘inherent jurisdiction’ of the High Court to punish misbehaviour in or in respect of proceedings. This power has been extended to the various ‘inferior’ Courts (like the Magistrates’ Courts, which deal with what used to be called misdemeanours and the start of most ‘indictable’ offences aka felonies).

    The power of the English courts is very broad where the law provides for ‘contempt’. Broadly this is:
    a) being insolent in Court, e.g. being rude to a judge, hitting a barrister, disrupting the court. – This tends to be acted upon ‘in the moment’ as there is no feasible way to act otherwise. Also, recording proceedings, taking pictures of parties, witnesses etc. coming to and going from or in court is also contempt, this goes back to a 1925 statute which codified what the Courts could decide from their own inherent jurisdiction.
    b) breaching reporting restrictions – as bobby b rightly notes, the UK has opted to control society in order to prevent juries seeing inadmissible evidence or comment.
    c) generally interfering with the administration of justice, which can overlap with a specific offence. E.g. providing false documents, failing to provide documents when ordered, contacting witnesses, jurors etc.

    What has happened recently is that when someone defies Judge A, e.g. in court, usually findings for contempt are now dealt with by another Judge, so that Judge A is not (as far as possible) judge in his own case, or does not appear to be.

    Ideally, if there is to be contempt, then no one should be held in contempt and sentenced without the consent of a jury, even if it be a jury of 6, and generally I would wish for the law not to allow any sentence of imprisonment be passed unless a jury has convicted (except with guilty pleas), and the same for extradition, no extradition without a jury being persuaded that there is at least a case to answer.

    With regard to reporting restrictions, the law here works on the assumption that jurors’ views may be tainted by media reports about a case, so when proceedings are active an individual facing proceedings may not be impugned in the media. The fact of the charge can be reported, but there may be all sorts of reasons to restrict reporting. There may be linked proceedings where a re-trial is pending and the defence may object to the first case being reported, there may be minors involved (the law regards them as particularly in need of ‘protection’). Bear in mind that the vast bulk of UK media coverage is dominated by the BBC, and if an eminent person of whom they did not approve were facing charges, it would be fair to assume that they would be ‘tried’ ad nauseam in the media.

    The root of it all is the common law right to a fair trial. Which makes me wonder why the ‘Perp Walk’ in the US is not regarded as a flagrant violation of that principle?

  • bobby b

    “With regard to reporting restrictions, the law here works on the assumption that jurors’ views may be tainted by media reports about a case, so when proceedings are active an individual facing proceedings may not be impugned in the media.”

    Going off on another tangent, how does this work in an age of a global internet? UK media may be limited, but the case is now being reported by myriads of sources which can all be accessed throughout the UK but which are not subject to the jurisdiction of a UK court. (Here I’m assuming that you in the UK can access everything that I can access here in the USA – that there are no internet restrictions in the UK that would keep everyone from reading whatever I’ve read here, or even Samizdata comments.)

    For this reason alone, I cannot see the UK continuing on along the information-freeze route. Juror sequestration will address this concern along with the more important one of freedom of speech.

  • JadedLibertarian

    In conclusion: If you actually want the people on trial to face justice, don’t fuck about on the fringes/try to stir-up-shit, to make things worse, to jeopardise the prosecution, and to turn yourself into a martyr. Because if you do you’re just a narcissistic little tit, not actually interested in justice

    Mr Robinson’s interest in justice is neither here nor there. A man said some things, and has been jailed for it. This appears to have been legal. That, in my view, is a problem.

    This is not least because it doesn’t even achieve what it purports to achieve. Presumably the judge is not familiar with the Streisand effect?

  • System Administrator (Blog, Website)

    bobby: Going off on another tangent, how does this work in an age of a global internet?

    In short: it doesn’t. They are still catching up and trying to work out how to cope with this.

  • bobby b

    JadedLibertarian
    May 28, 2018 at 10:53 am

    “Not least because it doesn’t even achieve what it purports to achieve.”

    Amen. And here’s my prediction: if the UK doesn’t end these reporting prohibitions and instead sequester jurors, the free international flow of information has to result in the UK instituting restrictions on UK surfers’ internet access to foreign sites – as in the Chinese model. If you are able to access news worldwide and jurors aren’t sequestered so that they can’t, you’ll end up with jurors who read even more vile crap about the case than before – as JL says, Streisand! – and you’ll completely lose your ability to conduct fair trials.

  • Those assuring us that Robinson broke the law reminds me of the poor sap who made the video that Hillary blamed for causing Libyan jihadis to slaughter Americans in Benghazi. Lefties fell over themselves to sternly remind us that this guy *had* broken the terms of his parole by making a video and thus two-dozen men raiding his house at midnight in front of another dozen news crews was all legit.

  • Mr Ed

    For this reason alone, I cannot see the UK continuing on along the information-freeze route. Juror sequestration will address this concern along with the more important one of freedom of speech.

    Jurors in England may be’sequestered’ at the end of major trials if they cannot reach a verdict and may be stuffed into a hotel until a verdict is reached, it is rare but it does happen.

    What about trusting jurors to take their oaths seriously and decide the case on the evidence that has been put before them? Naïve perhaps, every now and then a juror tells others that he or she has looked up the defendant on Facebook or elsewhere, and then gets done for contempt, but let freedom reign.

  • bobby b

    “Jurors in England may be’sequestered’ at the end of major trials if they cannot reach a verdict and may be stuffed into a hotel until a verdict is reached, it is rare but it does happen.”

    Different than our system, then. If a case comes along with lots of public passion or it simply looks like things will be said in the media that must be kept from the jury – i.e., excluded evidence – either side can make a motion at any time to the court asking for sequestration, even from Day One. In fact, it’s best done right at the start, as you can then dismiss jurors who would experience hardship if they’re sequestered. Juries that get sequestered by surprise end up angry, and hostile to everyone, and it’s no fun.

    It’s expensive. The main reason the general ban on reporting is chosen over this is to spare the court system itself the expense. Many consider it to be an improper choice for the court to suspend our general rights in order to save the court budget some money.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The contempt law probably does need revising. Plenty of TV report ms of live cases will involve photos of defendants (if not defendants). I used to be a courts reporter so I had to learn the rules. Photos were usually frowned upon where ID was the point at issue.

    I’m actually more worried about the secrecy of the hearings. This is at odds with the Common Law.

  • Thailover

    James Strong. He threatened me with violence. I’ll use fists or whatever gets the job done if a violent drunk lurches my way saying he’s going to do this or that. I F-ing hate drunks.

  • Thailover

    System Administrator, your argument comes across as a bit cockeyed when high profile court cases, even pedophile cases dealing with “important” people DO NOT have news blackouts (“D-notices” they’re calling them) associated with them, now suddenly it’s being argued to be necessary for justice to prevail in this particular case, and that the suppression of some rights (my words) are “necessary” for the sake of others, and for justice.

    That doesn’t pass the common sense test. No liberties need to be quashed in order for justice to prevail. The idea that people need to surrender liberties in order to be safe, (a common trope of the Left) is factually wrong on so many levels.

    If you think secret courts and disappeared activists is the path to justice, then I think you probably could use some time to self reflect and reexamine your premises.

  • Those who fear to realize that they are being ruled by exceptionally stupid fascists apologize for the governments inexcusable persecution of Tommy Robinson by stating how stupid Robinson was for doing exactly what he was warned not to do a year ago. Except he very scrupulously avoided doing what he had been convicted of doing a year ago. Mr Robinson was not in the court, he was not on court property (in the precinct of the court). He was standing with a very few other people, his crew mostly, on the street in the rain videoing those walking down the road and into the court and speaking into his phone. Moreover the trial was over. The jury had already found the defendants guilty. Tommy was reporting from outside a sentencing hearing. Therefore the jury could not possibly be influenced by anything he said. They had already completed their job and rendered a verdict. Furthermore Mr. Robinson was reporting information that had already appeared in the regions newspapers. Even if the jury could have heard him nothing he said hadn’t already been published.Also he was not arrested for contempt of court, he was arrested for breach of the peace. Breach of the peace is not a criminal complaint, so no jury trial is required. A magistrate can convict and imprison for up to one month or fine up to 2500 pounds, or both all by himself. And that is exactly what Magistrate Geoffrey Marson did, all by himself in an afternoon. No jury trial, no bail, no arraignment, none of Tommy’s lawyers, no appeal. Next the magistrate used the conviction for a breach of the peace, whose specifics he then hid, to activate Tommy’s suspended sentence and send him to prison. How exactly was Tommy breaching the peace ? His conviction on that charge is complete, his trial is over and there never was a jury. So on what grounds is there a gag order covering his arrest and conviction for breaching the peace?

  • bobby b

    Here’s a fun and timely story:

    The BBC web site is running an article today bemoaning the fact that Indian newspapers are not covering a story with freedom-of-the-press implications.

    The story barely reported by Indian media
    (Image caption) India languishes towards the bottom of the rankings for press freedom

    It is a potential scandal that claims to strike at a key pillar of Indian democracy – the freedom of the press – yet it is barely being reported in the Indian media. “

    Could they honestly be so self-unaware?

  • System Administrator (Blog, Website)

    @ mark abrams :

    That’s an almost elegant attempt to divert the story; Mr Yaxley-Lennon got arrested for breach of the peace, but almost certainly faced summary punishment from the (crown court) judge as the law permits for his actions, atop already having a sentence literally suspended above him.

    Ask conspiratorial questions all you like; we can be pretty sure of having all the answers once the rape trial is over and done with, but the obvious answer (above) is the best bet.

  • helios

    Apparently the trial has been broken into three parts and the third group is only going to appear in September. So presumably it will be at least until September + how long the trial lasts until the reason for Mr Yaxley-Lennon’s incarceration to become public. I think it is fairly likely there was a complete reporting ban on the trial and Robinson has been found in contempt of that which seems reasonable from the law’s point of view. But this isn’t going to be public for a long time which is quite disturbing.

  • helios

    I think it’s pretty screwed up if you go to prison for 13 months after a secret trial without a jury and it is 5-6 months before anything about your trial is made public. This shouldn’t be happening in a free society and someone needs to look at reforming the law to make it so this is not possible. Even though in this instance Robinson probably did break the law and the law was fairly applied.

  • Thailover

    “Could they honestly be so self-unaware?”

    Yes. The Left commonly achieve bewildering feats of self-unawareness and self applied irony, even unnoticed self applied hyocracy.

    It would be comical in a different context.

    Sort of like Nanci Peloci bemoaning wealth inequality in America in a press conference the other day…when she became worth 100 million dollars as a “public servant”…somehow…mysteriously.

  • Thailover: If you think secret courts and disappeared activists is the path to justice, then I think you probably could use some time to self reflect and reexamine your premises.

    That is not the point. Tommy Robinson could have reported earlier or later, just not right then. I have seen people contrast the lack of Press on that occasion with the abundance of Press outside the court when Count Dankula was convicted… indicating many people in in the UK have NO IDEA how things work under English or Scottish law… the Press were not in any danger of contempt charges because Dankula’s trial was over (plus his identity and the bald facts of what he did was not at legal issue). Not so with the rape case.

    I made the same mistake initially as many people here: I watched Robinson being arrested on YouTube and was horrified by what seemed like an egregious attempt to silence dissent. But that is actually not what happened. Yes, the UK has a HUGE problem with our right to free speech being rapidly eroded, but that is not the issue here. Muslim rapists… are also not the issue here. The Plod being in dereliction of their duty whilst children were raped en-mass is appalling… but it is also not the issue here. Some people want these things to be the issue, but they aren’t, not on this occasion, and that is just an inescapable fact.

    The issue here is the common law right to a fair trial. Now you might not like the very concept of subjudice & reporting restrictions to avoid prejudicing a trial, but that *is* how things are done in England, and it is not a new thing. It is also not a self-evident bad thing, even if we can debate better ways in the internet/smartphone age to achieve trials without prejudicing the outcomes. The common law right to a fair trial is what this is about. Just that. Nothing else. I did not see that initially, but I do now.

    With regard to free speech to say whatever, I am on the same side as Tommy Robinson. But he made a huge tactical error by fighting on the wrong hill & *that* is why he ended up in jail. It was an own-goal.

  • System Administrator (Blog, Website)

    @ helios: if you want a worked example of how seriously this sort of thing is taken, and how quickly it is dealt with, without all the political frothing, read this:

    https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/father-of-one-darren-george-jailed-seven-2035528

    A VISITOR to Cardiff Crown Court has been jailed for seven days for filming a case on his mobile phone.

    Darren George, 31, was spotted by a court usher as he sat in the public gallery with the phone in his hand.

    It was ordered to be destroyed by Judge Neil Bidder QC, who told him what he had done could bring legal proceedings into disrepute.

    “This is a clear contempt in the face of the court,” Judge Bidder warned George, as he ordered him to the cells.

    Notices at the doors to the 100-year-old listed court building warn anyone entering that the taking of photographs inside is strictly forbidden.

    Members of the public, witnesses and journalists are frequently reminded to switch off phones in court.

    George, from Wesley Way, Chepstow, had travelled to the court to observe a man being sentenced for an assault.

    But within half an hour of being spotted breaking the rules he had exchanged his seat in the gallery for one in the dock and was himself represented by a barrister.

    Counsel appointed for him, Hashim Salman, said he found him distressed in the cells as the realisation of what he had done dawned on him.

    …continues

  • bobby b

    “Members of the public, witnesses and journalists are frequently reminded to switch off phones in court.”

    In my third appearance in federal court on a motion day, I was sitting nervously in the gallery with twenty-five or more lawyers waiting for my turn. About fifteen minutes into the session, the Sheriff’s Office sent out an Amber Alert – an automatic telephone alert that rings all phones on the network to disseminate texted news about a missing child.

    Five of us had forgotten to turn our phones off when we entered court. Our phones all beeped. On the spot, we were all sentenced to four hours in lockup for contempt, to be served directly as we finished our court business.

    Contempt of court – when directly witnessed by the judge – is handled summarily. There’s no trial, no discovery, no waiting.

    That was the last time I ever forgot to mute my phone in court.

  • bobby b

    Perry de Havilland (London)
    May 28, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    “Yes, the UK has a HUGE problem with our right to free speech being rapidly eroded, but that is not the issue here. . . . The issue here is the common law right to a fair trial.”

    I think you’re missing the forest for the trees.

    Summary punishment of in-presence contempt of court has been an accepted part of both of our legal systems since they diverged. There remains in such cases the right to appeal to a higher court, and in the case of significant punishment, the appellate courts generally find a way to hear such appeals very quickly. (Think of the many movies in which a reporter refuses to name a source in the face of a court order to do so, is then jailed, and has lawyers scurrying aroound setting up the appeal in the next day or two.) It’s not as bleak as it appears here. Robinson could likely get an appeal heard within days. If he can convince an appellate court that he truly didn’t endanger the defendants’ right to a fair trial, he will be released.

    To me, the more important of the two issues remains the free speech implications of how the UK courts administer justice. They’ve chosen the method – bans on speech – that minimizes the court system’s expenses and bother, but maximizes the harm to the civil rights of the rest of society. They could still protect the right to a fair trial – probably more securely – without harming your rights. There should be no gag order on reporting about Robinson’s punishment. The jurors should be sequestered.

  • Joe Hooker

    Canadian free-speech activist Ezra Levant is getting involved. Levant has had his own problems with “human rights” kangaroo courts in Canada for telling the truth about Islam.

    https://www.therebel.media/let_us_report_on_tommy_robinson

    So far as I can see this is being hushed up as much as possible because it’s very embarrassing to the crown and people might start asking questions.

  • Bruce

    Eric said:

    “Those are some well-greased wheels of justice”.

    How are the palms?

  • JadedLibertarian

    I utterly disagree with the judge, and those here who said this isn’t about free speech. This strikes me as one of those “you have free speech but…” issues. If you add a “but” to that right, it isn’t free by definition. It doesn’t matter if the “but” pertains to so-called “hate speech” or even to the supposed prejudicing of a trial.

    What I say or what others say to me in public or private is not (or should not) be any of the judiciary’s damn business. Short of actual threats, I believe the right to free speech should be absolute. This is libertarianism 101 and I shouldn’t have to argue here for why this is a good idea. I don’t doubt such freedoms are deeply inconvenient, but they’re sufficiently important that a free society’s civic institutions would find a way to work around them.

    The court photography analogy is not apposite because he wasn’t inside the court, he was somewhere else. If he’d started yelling from the galleries it would be another matter, not least because then he’d demonstrably have been within earshot of the jurors. But that isn’t what happened.

    He said some words. Words that under other circumstances would be quite legal. Because of these words he’s been hauled to prison where it is fairly likely he’ll be murdered. If the law says that’s ok, the law is wrong and needs changing.

    I really am surprised that we’re finding so much to argue about this on a liberty focused blog. I also see Guido Fawkes (a self professed libertarian) has gone full on Westminster native on this one, which is very disappointing too.

  • helios

    The other odd thing is if Mr Lennon was convicted of contempt for breaching reporting restrictions then why is his live stream still available on YouTube. A couple of possible explanations:

    1) the judge ordered it removed but YouTube is refusing
    2) a part of the stream was in contempt and that has infact been removed.
    3) the judge thinks the damage has already been done and the availability of the stream doesn’t do much more damage. ??
    4) he wasn’t convicted for contempt for reporting or taking photographs but for some other reason
    5) this is more of a technical violation and the judge wanted to punish Mr Lennon for not respecting the court so is not concerned about the availability of the live strram

  • I really am surprised that we’re finding so much to argue about this on a liberty focused blog. I also see Guido Fawkes (a self professed libertarian) has gone full on Westminster native on this one, which is very disappointing too.

    Because this comes down to facts not feels, that is why. Guido understands this and so declines to fight the wrong battle, not because he has ‘gone Westminster’ but because he understands English law. It is ok to support what Tommy Robinson says (or not, but to support his right to say it) & still realise that long standing practice in the UK is to try and avoid prejudicing trials (particularly emotive ones) by keeping the media away from them for a period. As I said before, it is also ok to debate better ways of doing it. But it is just flat wrong to see this as something done to crush dissent… the state does indeed do things to crush dissent, and they must be opposed, but THIS is not one of those times, even if Tribune of the People Tommy paid the price for picking the wrong fight. And the fact English law does not do things the way US law does does not make the English way ‘wrong’, just different, as the objective is not crushing dissent but ensuring a trial is not prejudiced. The very existence of ‘hate speech’ as a legal concept in English law is an abomination, but that is not relevant in this case. It was a ‘technical’ violation of a technical matter (i.e. the process by which a trial is conducted, and that does not just include what happens inside the physical courtroom).

    If you think this is about Tommy Robinson’s right to free speech, you are making a category error: it is about the common law right to a fair trial. Is the long standing English practice the best way to achieve that? That can be debated, but that right to a fair trial *is* the issue.

  • JadedLibertarian

    If you think this is about Tommy Robinson’s right to free speech, you are making a category error: it is about the common law right to a fair trial. Is the long standing English practice the best way to achieve that? That can be debated, but that right to a fair trial *is* the issue.

    Perry, that’s a false dichotomy. It is not either/or. It can be both.

    Tommy Robinson’s free speech has demonstrably been violated. It appears that his free speech may be in conflict with another’s right to a free trial. If ensuring the liberty of one requires trampling the liberty of another, then I would suggest “long standing English practice” is flat out wrong in this case.

    I have no idea if the judge was seeking to crush dissent, and never suggested he was doing so. However it is naïve to suggest that just because the intention of a law was not the crushing of dissent that it consequently cannot be used for that purpose. Give judges an inch, they will take a mile.

  • To Mr Ed’s summary of UK contempt-of-court practice (May 28, 2018 at 10:20 am), I would add that (IIUC) UK libel law is also affected by the absence of a first amendment; it is in some ways sterner and has fewer free-speech-induced exemptions. This probably has nothing to do with the specific case at hand but it is part of understanding the UK/US customary legal background. Long ago I was told (perhaps mistakenly, of course) that the old much-mocked UK reporting line, “A man is now helping police with their enquiries”, reflected libel law (in the event of release or acquittal) as much as contempt-of-court law (in the event of trial).

  • Alisa

    A very helpful thread, many thanks to everyone.

    Now as to the way the system works, just look at the results: has it achieved what it, however honestly, purports to achieve?

  • JadedLibertarian

    Well no Alisa. As evidenced by the fact that we’ve filled an entire thread with arguments about this, as have many other blogs in the UK and abroad. Court ordered censorship doesn’t work in the information age, not even if Theresa May gets her much wanted Great Firewall of Britain. This is a good thing. Preventing governments from effectively demanding “you can’t say that” is one of the aims of Crypto-Anarchism, and it’s one I’m wholly on board with.

    If a juror were to read any of these postings, there is a good chance it would prejudice their judgment. It would certainly expose them to material external to that which they are supposed to restrict themselves.

    So what they’re trying is unjust. It doesn’t work. It can’t work

    They need to stop it and try something else.

  • Perry, that’s a false dichotomy. It is not either/or. It can be both. […] Tommy Robinson’s free speech has demonstrably been violated. It appears that his free speech may be in conflict with another’s right to a free trial.

    Example: My freedom of expression is being violated by arresting me for carving mystic runes on the forehead of a stranger at a bus stop. No, sorry, that is a category error, no way around it, the only ‘right’ here is that of the bloke at the bus stop not to be carved on by loony strangers (unless he is into that sort of thing). In the Robinson case, case it isn’t both, it is just one: the right to a fair trial & not allowing people to wilfully do things that might prejudice it. He was jailed for violating long standing practice for ensuring a trial is not prejudiced. Does the state have it in for Robinson? Yes, it probably does & that is unacceptable, but this was a fair cop, guv. Robinson scored an own-goal.

    Court ordered censorship doesn’t work in the information age

    Now THAT is a valid notion and I even broadly agree & would be happy to see the law changed, if someone comes up with better ways. But regarding this case, it is neither here nor there, because the approach that was applied actually does more or less work & its objectives are laudable (I am all for fair trials), even if I agree that without a doubt the current English approach works less well than it used to, and its effectiveness will only grow weaker in the years ahead.

  • JadedLibertarian

    Perry the whole words = physical violence argument so beloved of SJWs is beneath you.

    Mr Robinson was imprisoned for illegal use of words. WORDS. His words then caused illegal idea-on-brain action in the hearers, a consequence that would be deleterious to the cause of justice if (and only if) they were heard by a juror.

    What is better for a free society: that we restrict what a small number of jurors may hear, or what everyone may say, for the duration of a trial?

  • Alisa

    because the approach that was applied actually does more or less work & its objectives are laudable (I am all for fair trials)

    I certainly agree about the objectives being laudable, but as I implied in my previous comment I suspect that it works less, rather than more. I am certain that both the US and the UK approaches to preventing jury contamination are imperfect (like everything else in life), but I suspect that the UK approach is even less perfect – not only for its larger implications regarding the freedom of speech for the general population, but for the simple reason that any attempt to limit the spread of information will necessarily result in dis-information, with all the negative implications of its own. As an example, consider that when this gag order first broke out (heh), the only website that I could read anything about it was some Infowars outgrowth. Maybe not less reliable than the BBC, but the point is that to get reliable information one must have several independent sources to compare.

  • Perry the whole words = physical violence argument so beloved of SJWs is beneath you. Mr Robinson was imprisoned for illegal use of words. WORDS.

    Oi vey, you completely missed the point & seem to have never seen reductio ad absurdum used a device to highlight something.

    Words are usually how a trial gets prejudiced. But that is why the right to say words is not the issue, it is the right to a fair trial that is the issue, and if words are how that is denied, then it is words that must be addressed.

    What is better for a free society: that we restrict what a small number of jurors may hear, or what everyone may say, for the duration of a trial?

    Oh I agree that there might be a better way, but that is not how things work now & not without some justification. Or are you saying the Court should just say “You know, you’re right, Mr. Robinson, we will just summarily set aside these measure we have to try and ensure a fair trial & frankly even if you double down and summon a baying mob to surround the court howling “Muslim rapists! Muslim rapists!” we are ok with that because free speech.”

    Yes, another example of reductio ad absurdum (but only just), but the point remains unchanged, the Robinson case ain’t about what most people think it is, no matter how badly they want it to be. If he picks a defensible fight elsewhere, I might even support him. But this is not that fight.

  • Alisa

    Oh I agree that there might be a better way, but that is not how things work now & not without some justification.

    And that is the core issue, as far as I can tell from afar. Whether we think Robinson is a sympathetic figure is certainly not part of the issue (or at least I hope it is not); and, thanks to all the helpful comments above, it becomes apparent that the procedural merits of him finding himself in jail seem not to be the issue either. So what are we left with? All I see left is the gag order – both in this particular trial and as a general practice, no matter how long-established.

    If he picks a defensible fight elsewhere, I might even support him. But this is not that fight.

    Defensible from what perspective, legal or moral? (That is, even if this is in fact about Robinson – which I don’t think it is, as I have already mentioned).

  • Defensible from what perspective, legal or moral?

    Both really. I support free speech. I support the right to a fair trial. I am all for a system that achieves both but understand these are materially different things. When Tommy Robinson stood up at the Freedom of Speech rally, I said “bravo, you are trying to defend our right to free speech!”. Upon ponding the situation after his recent fiasco, I said “Doh, the issue here is the right to a fair trial.”

    So on the first he has my support, on the second… rolled eyes, I’d rather not see some pretext provided for a mistrial or an appeal by the defendants on grounds they couldn’t get a fair trial if they get convicted 🙄

  • helios

    Apparently the reporting restriction has been lifted.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/tommy-robinson-jailed-contempt-court-facebook-live-video-stephen-yaxley-lennon-a8374121.html

    ‘He admitted committing contempt of court by publishing information that could prejudice an ongoing trial.’

  • Yes, it probably does & that is unacceptable, but this was a fair cop, guv. Robinson scored an own-goal. (Perry de Havilland (London), May 29, 2018 at 11:18 am)

    Do we know that he did, or do we only know that it may be so? Until we are allowed to hear his defence, can we know he does not have one?

    As Natalie says, the wind can blow a smokescreen either way.

  • Snorri Godhi

    May i solicit advice on a trivial personal matter?
    I ask because it is vaguely related to this post.

    My former financial advisor in the UK has informed me that there is a small sum to my credit, which would be wasted unless donated to a UK charity: transferring it to an overseas account would be too expensive.
    I was considering donating it to Rebel Media, see the link in Joe Hooker’s comment. That donation was supposed to remove the reporting restriction, and that seemed a worthwhile goal independently of
    * Tommy Robinson’s character and ideology (about which i could not care less, one way or the other);
    * the facts of the case;
    * the best way to ensure a fair trial;
    * the 3 months vs 13 months issue.

    Now, however, the reporting restriction seems to have been lifted, see helios @1:13pm.
    What shall i do with my few quids? any suggestions?

  • Ljh

    @JadedLibertarian
    “I also see Guido Fawkes (a self professed libertarian) has gone full on Westminster native on this one, which is very disappointing too.“
    I have now been blocked by Guido with a nasty note saying I was a bigot when I made a fourth attempt at posting. My crimes: two comparisons with 80s South Africa secret justice and the banning of people only obliquely referencing judicial secrecy in the U.K., followed up by a thwarted attempt at posting half a stanza of Kipling’s Tommy Atkins with a query as to the busy day the moderator was having.

    Bye bye Guido! Remember all his satisfaction at thwarting injunctions to keep celebs shenanigans out of the private eye?

  • bobby b

    In the face of two facts – that Robinson remains in jail after having admitted contempt, and that the reporting restriction on his arrest has been lifted – it becomes obvious that it was, in fact, the quashing of speech issue that was the most compelling and significant of the issues presented.

    Gag orders are just wrong, and it took the lawyers for the Independent and Leeds Live arguing that non-gagged sources were misreporting the incident to the British public to convince the judge to withdraw his gag. That rationale is equally compelling as regards the overarching issue of courts ordering press silence on ongoing cases.

  • Mr Ed

    Snorri G

    What shall i do with my few quids? any suggestions?

    If you wish it to go to a cause, there are, all searchable:

    1. Lawyers for Britain.
    2. The Conservative Woman.

    If you wish to support a routine, apolitical, not employing overpaid hacks, and useful charity.

    1. Mountain Rescue. e.g. https://www.lamrt.org.uk/supportus Admin costs negligible.

    2. Search dog training, again very low admin costs. http://lakes-searchdogs.org

    If you like things that fly, try the charity that keeps a Royal Navy Swordfish and a Sea Fury flying, the latter a magnificent growling beast.

    https://www.navywings.org.uk/support-us/

  • Good news that the gag order is lifted.

    Natalie’s title for this post may now appear more relevant than ever. Maybe the judge noticed that the gag order did more for Robinson than any amount of coverage of him was likely to do.

    Some people only learn the value of free speech by experiencing such failures.

  • Jay S

    The technicalities explained by a barrister:

    https://thesecretbarrister.com/2018/05/25/what-has-happened-to-poor-tommy-robinson/

    It’s ironic that he makes no link between the contempt expressed in his preamble and the underlying reasons for the protest which he appears to attribute disdainfully to the failure of the working class to appreciate the niceties of a judicial offence.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Thank you Mr Ed!

  • The last Toryboy

    You summed up my own views there a lot better than I could myself I think

  • APL

    “There is no conspiricy…”

    The argument put forward is that there is no ‘official’ conspiracy, the Law is the law and it was applied impartially. In the narrow case of Tommy Robinson and this particular circumstance that may be accurate.

    I invite anyone interested to watch this presentation by Times Journalist Andrew Norfolk, in particular from 9:40 onward.

    Where he reports of the business Rochdale Local Authority was running. They had over forty so called ‘solo care’ homes. Which they charged other councils around the UK over £250,000 per year to accommodate a vulunerable child. These children were then frequently pimped out.

    He was later in receipt of documents revealing the Police and Social Services had known what was going on for ten years.

    So these court cases are conducted in secrecy, while the Max Clifford case was for example, conducted in the full public gaze.

    In the latter case, no local authorities, no collusion by the Police and no involvement of venture capitalists from the London.

    In the former instance, there are plenty of people in authority who ought to be in the Slammer for the rest of their lives.

    Result?

    Cases tried in secrecy. Monumental cover-up.

  • […] you read the comments on our previous Tommy Robinson posting, you will read claims that he is an “idiot”, or even a “tit”. But I think […]