Tommy Robinson has lost his harassment case against Cambridgeshire police.
This comes to me as no surprise whatsoever. After attending the trial on day one I left in little doubt that this action was doomed to fail. Now, on top of his own legal team’s costs, Robinson is liable for the £38,000 costs of Cambridgeshire police’s defence team. Plus, he has effectively conceded an open goal to all those in the mainstream media who wish to dismiss him as a mendacious troublemaker and serial loser.
How on earth did he get himself into this mess?
Robinson’s allegation against Cambridgeshire police was this: that in 2016, while on a lovely, sunny day out with his kids to see his home team Luton Town play Cambridge United, he was unfairly targeted as a football hooligan by the local police and forced to leave town. His daughter in particular was so upset by the experience that she has never accompanied her dad to a football match again. Robinson, understandably, feels very aggrieved about this because, he argues, it was obvious that he was on a peaceful family outing and posed no danger to anyone. He alleged he was deliberately targeted by vindictive officers within the police force because of who he was and what he believes rather than because of anything he’d done. This, he believes, constitutes a breach of his human rights.
“But do you have a case?” I asked when I interviewed him the week before the trial. What I meant by this was: “Is your claim watertight?”
Sure it must have been upsetting for Robinson and his kids. Yes, it’s entirely possible that Robinson was picked on unfairly by politically correct police who wanted to engage in bullying someone they didn’t like while simultaneously claiming the moral high ground. But believing this is one thing. Proving it in a court of law is quite another. And this Robinson and his barrister singularly failed to do.
Robinson and many of his fans are crying “unfair.” They think it’s the Establishment yet again cracking down on an ordinary bloke who has become the liberal elite’s handy scapegoat.
But that’s not what I saw during my morning in Peterborough County Court. Rather what I saw was the justice system working as it’s supposed to do: according to the law.
The judge, HHJ Walden-Smith, was at pains to be fair. The Defence Counsel representing Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Adam Clemens, positively oozed passive aggression and lofty contempt in his treatment of Robinson: but that, after all, was his job and he did it quite brilliantly. Though I doubt Clemens and I would agree on much politically, if I ever had to go to trial I’d retain him as my lawyer in a heartbeat: he simply outclassed Robinson’s own brief.
When the judge summed up she reached the only verdict she could possibly have reached on the evidence presented and it went like this:
HHJ Walden-Smith: “Having gone through the evidence, I will go through the law.
“Mr Lennon claims his human rights have been infringed. The allegation that Cambridgeshire police deliberately targeted him in my judgement must necessarily fail.
“In my judgement there is no evidence that Mr Lennon was being treated differently because of his beliefs on fundamental Islam.
Note the key phrase: “no evidence.”
This is how the English legal system operates. It’s not about deciding who is right and who is wrong (much though that might be the underlying intention). It’s about who is right and who is wrong on the basis of the evidence presented and the cases made.
It matters not one jot if some of us believe – as I do – that Robinson probably was a victim of harassment.
What matters is that he didn’t prove it and he couldn’t prove it in court. Therefore he deserved to lose.
None of this changes my opinion that Tommy Robinson has become an easy scapegoat for an Establishment excessively keen to demonstrate that it considers white, right-wing, working-class Englishmen to be as big a threat to peace and social cohesion as radical Islamists.
But on this occasion I do think that Robinson let down both himself and his supporters and his cause very badly. Sure, there’s an awful lot that can be said in his mitigation: can he really be blamed for failing to think straight after his ordeal last year, when he says he spent months in prison in solitary confinement, living on five cans of tinned tuna a week, and emerged with what his doctors told him is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Possibly not. But in that case, he is in sore, sore need of a consigliere — a wise counsellor who can help him appreciate when he is acting against his own interests.
Put it this way, when you’re questioned by the opposing counsel on the statements you made in your brief and you admit in court that you haven’t even read your own brief, this is not a line likely to win the judge’s sympathy. For lawyers the law — and correct procedure — is everything.
That’s why — another mistake Robinson made and should have been warned not to make by his brief, in my view — it’s always a good idea to answer the opposing barrister’s questions straight under cross-examination and not veer off into broad, grandstanding political statements about how wronged you feel. Nobody cares — at least no one who matters. You are fighting on the facts and evidence specific to the case, not on your vague right to be respected as basically a decent bloke and never treated badly.
Robinson has a lot more cases in the pipeline. Unless he gets his act together — and acquires the best legal representation money can buy — he’s going to lose them all.