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Friday, June 1, 2018
Global Establishment Closes Ranks Against Tommy Robinson
article appeared in Powerline on May 30th
By John Hinderaker
I wrote here
about the strange case of Tommy Robinson, and Scott (Johnson) followed up here.
The case is strange indeed: Robinson was live-streaming on Facebook from the
street in front of a courthouse in Leeds where a number of defendants were on
trial for rape. Reportedly, he was reading the names of the defendants and the
crimes with which they were charged.
That was enough to
bring out the paddy wagon. Police officers descended on Robinson, arrested him
on “suspicion of breaching the peace,” and hauled him off to court. Within a
matter of hours he had been imprisoned for contempt of court. Not only that,
the court issued an order barring all UK press outlets from reporting on
Robinson’s arrest and imprisonment.
If that doesn’t
bother you, your civil libertarian instincts have atrophied. Yet it appears
that only conservatives are troubled by Robinson’s incarceration; the world’s
establishment has closed ranks against him. This is what you see if you enter
“Tommy Robinson” in Google News. Click to enlarge:
Apparently only the
“alt-right,” “U.S. Rightwingers” and “the right-wing outrage machine” care
about the blatant suppression of free speech and normal criminal process that
characterize the Robinson case. I was curious about Time’s
article, headlined: “Why Tommy Robinson Was Jailed, and Why U.S. Rightwingers
Care.” Time writes:
campaigner was arrested and jailed on Friday outside a controversial trial in
No explanation of why
the trial was “controversial,” even though news outlets were forbidden to
report on it.
He is active in the
global far-right, writing and broadcasting for Canadian far-right channel Rebel
Who does this guy think he is, being a British patriot!
You can never say
“far right” too often. That means he is skeptical of the wisdom of mass Muslim
immigration to Great Britain.
…and his arrest on
Friday on suspicion of breaching the peace outside a court in the U.K.
attracted tweets of protest by right-wing activists and commentators
around the world.
The link on “right
wing commentators” goes to my Power Line post.
Time explains that
Robinson broke the law by reporting on “details of the trial,” although this
claim seems doubtful based on other reports:
By filming defendants
and discussing details of the trial while broadcasting via a livestream,
Robinson was breaking the court-ordered restriction on media. As he was already
serving a suspended sentence for filming outside another trial in May last
year, he was jailed for 13 months.
In the U.S.,
reporting on ongoing trials is usually protected by the First Amendment.
A court order is
currently in place temporarily banning any reporting on the trial, including
its status as ongoing, so the press will not be able to reveal details until
later this year.
So British newspapers
aren’t supposed to report that the rape trial is taking place.
At the time of the
Facebook Live, jurors were in the process of considering verdicts after hearing
six weeks’ of evidence.
This'll teach you to report the actual news, pal.
And a court order had
also been in place temporarily banning any reporting on Robinson’s arrest and
sentencing hearing, but Hull Live can now reveal the details.
A court order
temporarily banned any mention of Robinson’s court proceedings but our
colleagues at LeedsLive challenged the order and today (Tuesday) the judge
agreed to lift the reporting restriction in regards to Robinson’s case.
35-year-old was arrested on suspicion of a breach of the peace and was held in
the court cells before being taken up to the courtroom to face the trial judge.
In a rare move, he was arrested, charged and sentenced
within five hours.
Emphasis added. Is it
really true that British news media can’t report anything about a trial in
progress, even, as Robinson reportedly was doing, naming the defendants and
itemizing the charges against them? I haven’t had time to research this in
depth–although I think I have seen any number of news reports on British
trials–but this is the BBC’s
In most criminal
cases, proceedings become ‘active’:
* On the arrest of a
* When an arrest
warrant is issued
* On the issue of a
summons (in Scotland a complaint) or indictment. This may be well before a
person in charged
* When a person in
Obviously, the Leeds
criminal case was active. So the question is whether Robinson’s live-streaming
from outside the courthouse “creates a substantial risk that the course of
justice…will be seriously prejudiced or impeded.” It is hard to see why this
standard would be met.
So in the U.K., an
unpopular activist who stands outside a courthouse talking about the fact that
a criminal trial is taking place, and naming the defendants and the charges
against them, is subject to arrest for contempt of court, and can be hustled
off to jail in a matter of hours with no meaningful fact-finding or opportunity
to defend. And newspapers can be barred, and have been barred, from reporting
on the activist’s arrest and incarceration.
This is obviously not
the American way, and I seriously doubt whether it is the British way in any
case that doesn’t involve Islam. But evidently, as is so often the case when it
comes to free speech, no one cares except us “right wingers.”