Right-wing activist and citizen journalist Tommy Robinson has been jailed for 13 months after breaking contempt of court laws.
A judge had attempted to ban all reporting of the case over the weekend, but it can now be revealed after the restrictions were challenged by Leeds Live and other publications. The reporting ban was lifted by Leeds Crown Court Tuesday.
The restrictions were ridiculed online, as details of the case were easily available on social media and some U.S. outlets, with many prominent figures sharing details and the hashtag #FreeTommy trending on Twitter.
“What kind of police state have we become?” tweeted UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader and MEP Gerard Batten. Dutch MP Geert Wilders also spoke out on the platform, comparing the UK to Saudi Arabia.
Following the arrest, on Saturday, supporters of Mr. Robinson protested outside the gates of 10 Downing Street, with some scaling the gates. The majority remained calm and peaceful, however.
Mr. Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was arrested outside Leeds Crown Court on Friday, and pleaded guilty to contempt of court after publishing information that could prejudice an ongoing trial.
— Raheem (@RaheemKassam) May 27, 2018
He had initially been handed a suspended sentence, which was activated last week, after a judge said his citizen reporting of a grooming and rape trial in Canterbury last year had also prejudiced the case.
Supporters of Mr. Robinson, however, have argued it is not clear how his actions are different from other journalists, and specifically how they have prejudiced the case. They also questioned why he was arrested for breach of the peace, and why it was necessary to restrict reporting of his own case.
Mr. Robinson is the latest in a series of right-wing figures to fall foul of the law in the UK.
Canadian activist Lauren Southern was turned away from the UK in March after making a satirical video claiming “Allah is gay”, and in the same month, “Generation Identity” leader Martin Sellner was refused entry, with authorities claiming his presence was “not conducive to the public good”.
Establishment Politicians Hysterical After UKIP Peer Invites Tommy Robinson to Parliament https://t.co/WvaTJ0CqMm
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 16, 2018