British far-right activist Tommy Robinson jailed for nine months

Robinson jeopardised trial of a gang of alleged child abusers by posting video on Facebook, Britain's High Court ruled.

    Robinson arrived for sentencing wearing a t-shirt that read 'Convicted of journalism' [Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA]
    Robinson arrived for sentencing wearing a t-shirt that read 'Convicted of journalism' [Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA]

    Tommy Robinson, a British far-right leader, has been sentenced to nine months in jail for contempt of court after broadcasting a video on Facebook that featured defendants in a criminal trial.

    The activist, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was found guilty at London's Old Bailey court last week after he filmed defendants during a trial last year and posted the footage on social media, breaching reporting restrictions on the case. He was sentenced on Thursday.

    The court ruled that his actions could have jeopardised the trial of a gang of alleged sex offenders who were accused of abusing young girls, as the video clips revealed the identities of the defendants.

    The 36-year-old cofounder of the English Defence League, which has staged violent demonstrations against Islam, was previously jailed for making and live-streaming the video recordings outside a court in Leeds, in northern England. 

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    He successfully appealed against the jailing at the time and was released. The Court of Appeal, however, ordered a rehearing and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, the government's chief legal adviser, decided to start contempt proceedings against him.

    "Posting material online that breaches reporting restrictions or risks prejudicing legal proceedings is a very serious matter and this is reflected in the court's decision today," Cox said in a statement on Friday, when Robinson was found guilty.

    "I would urge everyone to think carefully about whether their social media posts could amount to contempt of court."

    The far-right figure has railed against asylum-seekers, but that did not stop him this week from appealing to US President Donald Trump to grant him asylum in the United States.

    He claimed Britain's jails were filled with "jihad gangs".

    "It's inevitable I will be murdered, I will be killed," he said in a video statement released by a white supremacist website. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies