UK activist and English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson was arrested on Friday outside of Leeds Crown Court for reporting on a Muslim pedophile grooming trial. Within six hours of his arrest, Robinson was handed a 13 month prison term for violating a prior suspended sentence for a similar offense, while media outlets were banned from covering the incident by the court - with several removing reports which had already been published.
Footage shows Robinson, 35, being arrested while livestreaming to his Facebook page outside the courthouse. He can be heard shouting to a friend "Please, George, get me a solicitor, I’m on a suspended sentence, you see."
“A big police van with about seven police officers pulled up and arrested [Robinson] and told him to stop live streaming,” Robinson’s producer told RT (before their article was scrubbed from the internet). “They said it was incitement and a breach of the peace.
“No peace has been breached – there were two other people there and he’s been perfectly quiet talking into his phone. [The police] said nothing about the court proceedings. It’s very strange.”
Disturbingly, the judge who sentenced Robinson, Geoffrey Marson QC, ordered an Orwellian media blackout - which resulted in several publications deleting their articles from the web covering Robinson's arrest.
Robinson was admonished last year by Judge Heather Norton for filming outside a gang rape case in Canterbury, who slapped him with a three month suspended sentence on the condition that he cease his coverage of the trials.
"you should be under no illusions that if you commit any further offence of any kind, and that would include, I would have thought a further contempt of court by similar actions, then that sentence of three months would be activated" -Judge Heather Norton
In response to Robinson's arrest, a large group of protesters gathered outside Downing Street - while the hashtag #FreeTommy has been used to coordinate a response, express outrage and share information about the situation.
Lauren Southern, author, YouTuber, filmmaker and friend of Robinson’s has called the court’s decision a “death sentence.” She pointed to a case in 2016 where a UK man who had placed bacon sandwiches outside a mosque was found dead in his prison cell.
“Tommy has a reputation in the UK as one of the most prolific voices against Islamisation. There isn’t a Muslim that doesn’t know his name or his face. It’s well known anti-Islam prisoners are targets, just a few years ago a man who placed bacon outside a mosque ‘mysteriously’ was found dead in jail,” Southern told Gateway Pundit. “Even among the regular population Tommy is a regular target of assault. Put him in a confined space with a surging amount of criminal Muslims and anyone can guess what the result will be. I don’t think it’s too crazy to say this could be a death sentence.”
Robinson's arrest has also sparked a free speech debate over social media, with supporters and detractors alike standing up for the controversial activist's right (or lack thereof) to express his opinion.
Tommy Robinson has just been sentenced to jail for 13 months. There is a UK reporting ban. No one there is allowed to talk about it. #FreeTommy
— Lauren Southern (@LaurenSouthern ) May 25, 2018
I don’t agree with everything he says, but being arrested for filming a news story outside a courthouse, and imprisoned within 6 hours sounds dystopian #FreeTommy
— Kelham Hurst (@KelhamHurst) May 25, 2018
Tommy Robinson was [REDACTED] for reporting on [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] to [REDACTED] months in [REDACTED]. Reporting on [REDACTED] in the United Kingdom is illegal until [REDACTED].
— Stefan Molyneux (@StefanMolyneux) May 26, 2018
Today Judge Geoffrey Marson QC sentenced a man who may not be named to death in a secret trial that may not be reported on for an offence that may not be mentioned although it is suspected to be for exposing the extent of child abuse and grooming gangs in Britain. #tommyrobinson pic.twitter.com/6swXu13xFB
— Peter Allen (@SgtPeterAllen) May 25, 2018
A group of 29 Muslim defendants are being tried for historical sex offences against children, split into three trials. Robinson was arrested outside the second trial, while the first is ongoing.