Tommy Robinson is headed back to court in July for a re-hearing of the contempt of court charge that wound him up in jail just one year ago.
The High Court, presided over by Lady Justice Sharp and Mr. Justice Warby, granted a request advanced by the United Kingdom’s Attorney General to have a fresh hearing on the contentious charge.
Much of the two-hour session was rooted in procedural matters, though a recurring theme in the argument advanced by the barrister representing the attorney general was that it’s in the “public interest” for this case to proceed.
He also stressed the potential for Robinson’s Facebook live stream to have influenced jurors given the reach of social media posts in relation to traditional broadcast means. He did this to lay the groundwork that the alleged infraction was a severe one, to defend against Robinson’s barrister’s position that proportionality needs to be taken into consideration.
Two days have been set aside for the hearing, in less than two months. The appearance actually takes place less than a week before I was planning to be in London to cover the press freedom summit being co-hosted by Canada and the United Kingdom (for which I need your help).
I’ll have a further analysis of the case and its implications in the days ahead.
Whatever you may think of Tommy Robinson, no one can argue he’s been given a fair shake by the media or the British government.
To be fair, he’s thumbed his nose at both quite a bit over the years, but due process is meant to be for everyone.
Everyone except him, that is.
An appellate court already found last summer his rights had been violated when a Leeds judge had Robinson arrested, charged, tried, convicted, sentenced and hauled off to jail in a matter of hours. When I was in London last October I overheard British mainstream media journalists conspiring to lie about Robinson and professing his guilt before the judge even entered the courtroom.
That judge, the most senior at the famous Old Bailey, said thanks to a statement provided by Robinson there was enough ambiguity about whether he was, in fact, guilty of contempt of court that the case should be referred to the Attorney General of the United Kingdom, Geoffrey Cox.
It was, and Cox ordered a new hearing, sending Robinson back to court on a charge for which he’s already served 10 weeks of a 13 month sentence that’s been tossed out.
On Tuesday, government will argue in a two-hour hearing that Robinson should be subjected to another contempt of court hearing. Robinson’s legal team will argue he shouldn’t.
Yes, I flew across the Atlantic for a two-hour procedural matter. I am grateful to have received a grant covering my flight and hotel costs, raised by Ezra Levant and The Rebel. I’m paying for everything else out of my own pocket. Though I’m happy to do so, as Robinson’s case really is about the procedure.
After all, it was a supposed procedural infraction that the initial Leeds judge said justified imprisoning Robinson in the first place. Covering, as an activist journalist, a case the mainstream media had been ignoring was his “crime.”
I’m here again because as the prosecution of Robinson mounts, so too do questions about the state of free speech and press freedom in Western nations.
Despite all this the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom are co-hosting a press freedom summit in London–where I am right now–in July. Last week I launched a crowdfunding campaign through True North to attend and cover the summit, being spearheaded by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
If you support independent voices fighting to stand up for these freedoms, please make a contribution of what you can afford, whether it’s a few dollars or a few hundred dollars.
I take no joy in needing to cover these things, but take comfort in knowing how many people there are who support the effort.
In my new life as an independent journalist and commentator, no story I’ve tackled has had the reach and interest of my coverage of the Tommy Robinson trial-that-never-was in England last month.
It’s understandable given how many of today’s most pressing cultural concerns are encapsulated in the case. Judicial activism, free speech, excessive immigration, media bias, and class divide: all of them are central to what’s happened to Robinson, and how it’s been covered (or not covered, such as the case may be.)
Bob Metz and Robert Vaughan of Just Right Media have been covering many of these issues for years, and graciously invited me back to their program to discuss what I learned and uncovered in England, and how this case fits into the work I’m doing on immigration and constitutional liberties with the True North Initiative.
If you’ve followed the Robinson case extensively you’ll be a bit bored with the opening few minutes of the case, where I recap the backstory before getting into the meat. But do stick through it, as it’s an hour of great discussion about key issues facing western society.
Mark Steyn and I have completed our Freaky Friday role reversal. Just a few weeks after he and I sat down for a full-length interview for True North Initiative, it was my turn in the hot seat, joining singer-songwriter Tal Bachman and author Kathy Shaidle on a free speech edition of the Mark Steyn Show, filmed in front of a live audience aboard the maiden Mark Steyn Cruise.
From Tal’s background as a successful musician, Kathy’s as a published poet, and my own navigation of the world of media and politics in Canada, there was a general understanding that the threats to free speech are coming about from within the cultural sphere and not just from statist forces.
It was a great pleasure to be on the panel, so I hope you’ll enjoy watching.