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Protesters clash with police and press as Tommy Robinson jailed for nine months

Joe Gamp
Contributor, Yahoo News UK
Tommy Robinson has been sentenced for contempt of court (Picture: PA)

Police and protesters have clashed outside Parliament as Tommy Robinson was jailed for nine months for contempt of court.

At least four people were arrested in relation to the demonstration as angry protesters tore down EU flags as they continued their march.

Journalists filming on the College Garden were verbally abused, physically intimidated and had their equipment attacked before police officers arrived.

Robinson was standing trial over a video he broadcast on social media which featured defendants in a criminal trial.

City of London police confirmed that four people had been arrested.

A statement said: “The City of London Police have made eight arrests in relation to offences committed on Friday 5 July outside the Central Criminal Court.

"On Friday 5 July, four men aged 34, 44, 52 and 60 were arrested for affray.

“On Thursday 11 July, a woman aged 28, and two men aged 60 and 50, were arrested for affray. One woman aged 61 was arrested for a public order offence.”

Tommy Robinson supporters stand outside the Old Bailey courthouse in London, Thursday, July 11, 2019. A British judge has sentenced far-right activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon to a total of nine months in prison for contempt of court. Yaxley-Lennon, who uses the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, was arrested and jailed last year for potentially prejudicing a trial after the Facebook broadcast outside a trial of men accused of sexually abusing teenage girls. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

The former English Defence League (EDL) founder was handed the sentence at the Old Bailey on Thursday after senior judges last week found him guilty of contempt.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, filmed men accused of the sexual exploitation of young girls and live-streamed the footage on Facebook, in breach of a reporting ban, outside Leeds Crown Court in May 2018.

Protestors gathered as Robinson was sentenced at the Old Bailey (Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire)

Lawyers for two of the defendants argued the video meant the jury would not be able to reach a fair verdict and should be disbanded.

After a two-day hearing at the Old Bailey, judges said language he used in the video, which lasted an hour-and-a-half and was viewed online 250,000 times on the morning of the broadcast, encouraged “vigilante action” and would have been seen as "an incitement" to harass the defendants.

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The judge said Robinson’s behaviour almost caused the trial to collapse, meaning the guilty men would have walked free.

After his sentencing, Robinson’s Telegram account said: "Sentenced to prison for journalism. Time for protests to start, this is an absolute joke!"

Two people were arrested outside the Old Bailey as Robinson was sentenced (Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire)

According to legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg, Robinson - who was originally jailed for 13 months after being found in contempt of court on the day of the broadcast but was freed after two months when the original finding was overturned - has already served 10 weeks in prison.

That means he has effectively been jailed for 19 weeks and will serve half of that sentence.

Robinson, from Luton, Bedfordshire, broadcast the video - which was eventually viewed 3.4 million times after being shared following his arrest - while the jury in the second of a series of linked grooming trials was considering its verdict.

A reporting restriction was in place which postponed the publication of any details of the case until the end of all the trials involving 29 people.

Robinson was found guilty of contempt of court last week (Picture: PA)

He was jailed for 13 months after being found in contempt of court on the day of the broadcast and served two months in jail but was freed after the original finding of contempt was overturned by the Court of Appeal in August 2018.

The case was then referred back to the Attorney General, who announced in March that it was in the public interest to bring fresh proceedings against Robinson.

Robinson arrives to chaotic scenes outside the Old Bailey (Picture: PA)

Throughout last week’s hearing, Robinson denied any wrongdoing, saying he did not believe he was breaching reporting restrictions and only referred to information that was already in the public domain.

But Dame Victoria and Mr Justice Warby found he had breached the reporting restriction imposed on the trial by live-streaming the video from outside the public entrance to the court and by "aggressively confronting and filming" some of the defendants.