Huddersfield grooming gang: Why Tommy Robinson's protest at Leeds Crown Court landed him in jail

It was a case which brought huge protests to the streets of Leeds.

Friday, 19th October 2018, 4:12 pm
Updated Friday, 19th October 2018, 7:28 pm
Tommy Robinson

Now for the first time, the link between the Huddersfield grooming gang and the jailing of former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson can be revealed.

There were so many defendants accused of being involved in the sex abuse ring, they could not all be heard in the same trial.

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Tommy Robinson

As a result, the courts imposed strict reporting restrictions on the first trials in an effort to make sure jurors in later trials were not swayed by previous media coverage.

The postponement orders meant the cases were effectively subjected to a temporary media blackout.

However, in May, Robinson, a far-right activist whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, staged a broadcast on social media outside Leeds Crown Court.

He was arrested and brought before a judge within hours.

Robinson admitted contempt of court and was sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment, as well as a further three months for breaching a previous suspended sentence for a similar offence in Canterbury the year before.

At first, as with the original grooming case, the courts imposed an order postponing any reporting of Robinson’s jailing.

However, news spread among his supporters and led to a major protest on the streets of Leeds, petitions for his release and even a march on Downing Street.

Media organisations challenged the restriction on reporting the Robinson hearing and it was lifted later that month.

Robinson appealed against both contempt findings at a hearing in August heard by Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, Mr Justice Turner and Mrs Justice McGowan.

They found the judge at Leeds should not have begun contempt proceedings that day.

Lord Burnett said "no particulars of the contempt” were put to Robinson and there was "a muddle over the nature of the contempt being considered".

He added: "Where a custodial term of considerable length is being imposed, it should not usually occur so quickly after the conduct which is complained of; a sentence of committal to immediate custody had been pronounced within five hours of the conduct taking place."

He was bailed and is due to face a fresh hearing over the allegation at the Old Bailey at a later date.

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