The British Court of Appeal has released street organiser and citizen journalist Tommy Robinson from prison on bail, pending a fresh hearing over his contempt of court charge.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett quashed the contempt of court conviction handed to the former English Defence League leader in May, which saw the activist going from arrest to trial, and to prison in just five hours and under a blanket of enforced media silence.
The court’s written judgement stated the speed with which the original conviction was made “gave rise to unfairness”, and that there was a “lack of clarity” over evidence for the charge of contempt given to Robinson.
Further, the document states the original judge should have resisted “the temptation” to rule on Robinson’s behaviour there and then, as after he had offered to delete the video he created from Facebook the “urgency went out of the matter”. Instead, the judge should have referred the matter to the Attorney General rather than acting immediately.
In all, the judgement found, the original case had the opportunity to “have avoided the risk of sacrificing fairness on the altar of [haste]”, but failed to take it.
Robinson’s defence team have maintained that the unusual speed with which he was jailed had led to “deficiencies” in the legal process.
The QC defending Mr Robinson in the appeal told the court the original trial had been “unnecessarily and unjustifiably rushed”, had featured “procedural difficulties”, and the sentence was “manifestly excessive.”
Robinson had been live-streaming the arrival of defendants of another trial outside Leeds Crown Court at the time of his arrest, and part of his bail conditions prevents him from returning to that court. Another trial has now been ordered to take place by the Court of Appeal, but the Lord Chief Justice ruled that Robinson had already served sufficient time pending the outcome of the retrial, and was, therefore, to be released.
The order to release came after a short hearing which followed longer proceedings on July 18th, where the judges hearing the case delayed their finding to give themselves time to confer.
Following the hearing, it was claimed by Robinson’s lawyers that the judge who served the first sentence in May was in such haste to pass his judgement, he didn’t even take time to watch the full video created outside the court, which was the basis for the prosecution.