Right-wing firebrand Tommy Robinson has been freed on bail after a British court of appeal quashed his contempt of court conviction.
Robinson had been convicted of contempt of court and sentenced to 13 months in prison in May after he had been arrested for reporting on a grooming gang trial at the Leeds crown court. The court had ordered a media gag on the trial.
Robinson, the founder of the English Defense League, had previously been convicted of breaching reporting restrictions on another grooming gang trial in Canterbury. The sentence for the Canterbury conviction had been suspended.
The court of appeal upheld the original Canterbury conviction, but ordered that Robinson be retried on the Leeds conviction.
Judge Geoffrey Marsden, the judge who had jailed Robinson in May, had said that it was a “serious aggravating feature” that Robinson had encouraged people to share the Leeds video on Facebook. The video had been shared over 250,000 times.
Marsden also said: “Everyone understands the right to freedom of speech but there are responsibilities and obligations. I am not sure you appreciate the potential consequence of what you have done. People have to understand that if they breach court orders there will be very real consequences.”
Tommy Robinson’s jailing had provoked international outrage from free speech advocates for what seemed to be an unreasonably harsh penalty for violating a court order. The court had also been criticized for the speed at which the judgement had been handed down. Robinson had been tried, convicted, sentenced, and jailed within a few hours.
British authorities were also heavily criticized for the manner in which Robinson was incarcerated. Robinson has been a staunch critic of the UK’s policy of indiscriminately welcoming migrants and refugees, and has received numerous threats from Muslim gangs over the years. According to supporters, Robinson was being held in the general population in a Muslim-majority prison. Requests for Robinson to be placed in protective custody while in prison had been denied.
Friends and family of the outspoken, pro-English activist have spent the last three months fearing for Tommy Robinson’s life.
Robinson’s case had generated a massive amount of grassroots support. Tens of thousands of protesters have marched several times urging the UK government to free Robinson.
The fact that Tommy Robinson is on his way home is a great victory for his family and his supporters across the world. Although Robinson is not out of the woods yet, it does seem like he will finally get the proper day in court that he had been denied.