Far right extremist Tommy Robinson has been freed from prison where he was serving a sentence for contempt of court.
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, emerged with a shaggy beard and long hair after being released from Belmarsh this morning.
Talking about his new ginger beard, he said ‘I look like a little cowardly convert. Salaam alaikum’ – Arabic for peace be unto you.
He revealed that he was visited by an imam every day but it took 16 days for a Christian to visit him.
Robinson was jailed for filming defendants in a grooming trial and life-streaming it on Facebook. The footage almost caused the collapse of a paedophile grooming gang trial.
He remained defiant as he came out of prison saying he did not believe he was in contempt of court because he did not intend to commit the crime.
He was released after serving nine weeks after a court imposed a nine-month jail term following the incident outside Leeds Crown Court.
Speaking after the sentencing, the Attorney General said: ‘Today’s sentencing of Yaxley-Lennon serves to illustrate how seriously the courts will take matters of contempt.
‘Posting material online that breaches reporting restrictions or risks prejudicing legal proceedings has consequences, and I would urge everyone to think carefully about whether their social media posts could amount to contempt of court.’
Robinson arrived late at court for sentencing carrying an overnight bag and wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words: ‘Convicted of journalism.’
He changed his shirt once inside as he faced judges.
At the start of the hearing, his barrister Richard Furlong apologised for his client’s late arrival, blaming ‘a number of people outside who are here to support him’.
Dame Victoria replied: ‘Well, it’s not a very good start, is it?’
The former English Defence League founder was found in contempt in three respects when he filmed men accused of the sexual exploitation of young girls, in breach of a reporting ban, outside Leeds Crown Court in May 2018.
He has 11 previous convictions for violence, public order offences, fraud and disobedience of court orders.
After he was found in contempt, Robinson released a video of himself begging President Donald Trump to grant him ‘political asylum’ in the US, claiming he would be killed if he was put in prison in Britain.
He said: ‘I beg Donald Trump, I beg the American government, to look at my case. I feel like I’m two days away from being sentenced to death in the UK.’
His appeal continued: ‘I need evacuation from this country because dark forces are at work.’
As he was led to the cells at the Old Bailey, Robinson winked at the public gallery and put his fingers up in a V sign for victory.
Robinson’s barrister Richard Furlong raised the possibility of an appeal against the court’s decision on contempt and was told he has 28 days from today to apply.
Outside court, Robinson’s supporters booed as news of his sentence filtered through.
The crowd marched towards the Old Bailey chanting ‘we want Tommy out’ again before some began pelting police with drinks bottles and cans.
Officers donned their helmets as violent clashes erupted.
How Tommy Robinson could have helped keep Huddersfield rape gang on UK streets:
Robinson could have helped keep the Huddersfield rape gang on the streets by ignoring reporting restrictions designed to ensure the proceedings were fair.
He claimed the activities of the gang were being covered up because the offenders were of Asian origin.
In reality, reporting of the case was only being postponed for well-established legal reasons.
The restriction was put in place because the defendants were being dealt with in separate trials.
In such cases, reporting is sometimes postponed until the final case so jurors cannot be prejudiced by reading accounts of previous trials.
In this case, a reporting restriction was in place which postponed the publication of any details of the case until the end of three separate trials – which involved a total of 29 people.
The same jury were in place for all three trials due to the connection between the men involved. The reporting restriction was in place to ensure no cross contamination.
Robinson broadcast the footage in question while the jury was out considering its verdict in the second trial.
Robinson claimed the cases were being covered up because the men were Muslims.
Lawyers for two of the defendants in the grooming gang applied unsuccessfully for the jury to be discharged on May 26, relying on the way Robinson had confronted the defendants and the allegedly prejudicial nature of what had been said.
The case could have been dismissed if the application was successful.
One of the defendants later went on the run after a protest against Robinson’s arrest and imprisonment, held outside Leeds Crown Court on June 1, was advertised in advance.
There was a further application to discharge the jury based on the effects of the demonstration, which was rejected by the judge, and the jury returned their verdicts on June 5, finding the defendants guilty on all counts.
Robinson was aware of the potential consequences of his actions at Leeds Crown Court – as he had been given a suspended prison sentence for contempt of court in 2017 after trying to film three Asian men and a teenager who were on trial at Canterbury Crown Court accused of gang-raping a teenage girl.
Tommy Robinson’s jail sentences:
His criminal record includes violence, financial and immigration frauds, drug possession, public order offences and contempt of court.
In 2005, Robinson was convicted of assaulting an off-duty police officer after he intervened to protect Robinson’s girlfriend from him.
He was jailed for 12 months.
In 2011, he was given a 12-week jail sentence – suspended for 12 months – for headbutting a man in Blackburn.
In 2012, Robinson was charged with using false travel documents after entering the US illegally by using a passport with the name Andrew McMaster.
A judge told him at the time: ‘What you did went absolutely to the heart of the immigration controls that the US are entitled to have. It’s not in any sense trivial.’
Robinson was jailed for 10 months and released on electronic tag on February 22, 2013.
In 2012, Robinson was charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by misrepresentation in relation to a mortgage application.
He pleaded guilty to two charges and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
CONTEMPT OF COURT:
In 2017, Robinson received a suspended sentence for putting a trial at Canterbury Crown Court at risk of collapse – after he broadcast statements from inside the court building.
In 2018, he was jailed for a similar offence at Leeds Crown Court. However, he was released after successfully challenging the court’s sentencing procedure.
In 2019, the attorney general decided that it was in the public interest to bring further proceedings against Robinson.
On July 11, he was given a nine-month jail sentence.