Sunday, July 22, 2018

Two accounts of the Yaxley-Lennon appeal

Two interesting reports, one from "The Secret Barrister" and one from "Barrister Blogger" have been published of the appeal hearing by Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon (who uses the name "Tommy Robinson") against his sentences of three months and ten months for contempt of court.

You can read the "Secret Barrister" account in the Independent here,

and the "Barrister Blogger" account by Matthew Scott here.

Judgement on the appeal has not yet been given but is expected by the end of the month.


Jim said...

he never should have been locked up, the BBC done worse on Cliff Richard.

the whole thing is wrong. The bigger wrong, however, I think is the way the BBC have ignored every protest, bias by omission is the worst type. Thats why they are known as the legacy media, rather than the Main stream, they are not the Main Stream anymore.

Chris Whiteside said...

There are two different issues there, I think you are broadly right on the first but I take a different view of the second.

On the Cliff Richard case I think the behaviour of both South Yorkshire Police and the BBC was diabolical. I note that the police settled out of court and even the BBC now recognise that there were "elements of its coverage that should have been handled differently."

The sensationalist use of helicopter footage in a case where charges had not been brought was inappropriate and I think the judge was right to impose extra damages against the BBC for submitting the footage for a "scoop of the year" award, given that this was not only a case where no charges had yet been brought but that they never were.

There is probably a need for new legislation to govern how and in what circumstances the police can publicise and media report ongoing investigations where no charges have yet been brought. This will need to strike a better balance between rights of alleged victims and the accused, and the public interest - one which recognises, as in the Cliff Richard case, that the public interest and what is of interest to the public are not the same thing.

However, I cannot agree that the BBC's offence was even in the same league as what Yaxley-Lennon appears to have done. The potential for harm from broadcasting pictures of people arriving at a court including witnesses and jurors, and from the inflammatory language he appears to have used, is very considerable and is more clearly against the rules.

I want to see what the appeal court decides before finally making up my mind about Yaxley-Lennon, but on the basis of the evidence which has so far been put in the public domain, the only argument against sending him to prison which has a shred of credibility is that he probably wanted to be sent there so he could pose as a martyr for free speech when he is nothing of the kind.

In the court cases which Yaxley=Lennon was accused of interfering with, two groups of people were accused of serious crimes and had been put on trial. That in itself undermines his argument that nothing is being done about such crimes, and his "reporting" could easily have been counterproductive to the very cause he purported to support, of getting justice for the victims of such crimes.

Yaxley-Lennon's actions, in the opinion of both trial judges, could have jeopardised the fairness of those trials. To allow him to do that would not have been justice for the accused, the victims, or the taxpayer (who stood to lose hundreds of thousands if not millions of pounds if the trials had to be re-run).

The first judge, giving him a suspended sentence, told him

"This contempt hearing is not about free speech. This is not about freedom of the press. This is not about legitimate journalism; this is not about political correctness; this is not about whether one political viewpoint is right or another. It is about justice, and it is about ensuring that a trial can be carried out justly and fairly. It is about ensuring that a jury are not in any way inhibited from carrying out their important function. It is about being innocent until proven guilty."

And she also said that Yaxley-Lennon

"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, and that would be on top of anything else that you were given by any other court.

In short, Mr Yaxley-Lennon, turn up at another court, refer to people as “Muslim paedophiles, Muslim rapists” and so and so forth while trials are ongoing and before there has been a finding by a jury that that is what they are, and you will find yourself inside. Do you understand?”

Turning up at another court and carrying out "similar actions" again appears to be precisely what he did, and he has nobody but himself to blame that he did indeed find himself inside a prison.

Chris Whiteside said...

The Appeal court has now quashed his Leeds conviction - though not the Canterbury one - on the grounds that the legal process followed in Leeds was flawed.

New report on the appeal decision at