Tommy Robinson was jailed for 13 months last Friday after being held in contempt of court.
He was arrested outside Leeds Crown Court for live streaming himself commenting live on Facebook, outside the court, concerning the details of a trial which was still in session.
Eventually, the 35-year-old was arrested on suspicion of a breach of the peace and was held in the court cells before being taken up to the courtroom to face the trial judge.
The video footage was played to Judge Geoffrey Marson QC as Tommy Robinson sat in the dock.
Tommy Robinson admitted contempt of court and breaching the terms of his suspended sentence for a similar offence.
In a rare move, he was arrested, charged and sentenced within five hours.
Matthew Harding, defending, said his client felt ‘deep regret’ after realising the potential consequences of his actions.
He said Robinson thought what he was saying on camera was already in the public domain.
The barrister added: ‘He was mindful, having spoken to others and taken advice, not to say things that he thought would actually prejudice these proceedings. He did not try to cause difficulties for the court process.’
But the judge said: “No one could possibly conclude that it would be anything other than highly prejudicial to the defendants in the trial. You have to understand we are not preventing publication. We are postponing publication to ensure that the trial is fair.”
“I respect everyone’s right to free speech. That’s one of the most important rights that we have. With those rights come responsibilities, the responsibility to exercise that freedom of speech within the law. I am not sure you appreciate the potential consequence of what you have done. If the jurors in my present trial get to know of this video I will no doubt be faced with an application to discharge the jury. If I have to do that it will mean a re-trial, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.”
The Judge placed full reporting restrictions on the arrest and sentencing of Robertson because his present trial was still ongoing. The restrictions were not lifted until Tuesday 29th May.
While I have every sympathy with Tommy Robinson’s motives in reporting the trial, he commenced his reporting before the jury had delivered their verdicts, and thus contravened the court reporting restrictions.
His arrest and sentencing was in all probability not politically motivated, as advanced by some conspiracy theories on the social media, but simply brought about by his contravention of the law.