IF you were still labouring under any lingering Blairite misapprehension that class warfare in the UK is dead the summary arrest, conviction and imprisonment of Tommy Robinson should put such wishful thinking firmly and decisively to bed.
From the gleeful, sneering, sadistic, Schadenfreudian reaction of soy boy Owen Jones to the holier-than-thou character assassination from the chambers of ‘’The Secret Barrister’’ the chattering class reaction to the imprisonment of the ‘’former EDL leader’’ ‘’football hooligan’’ ‘’bigoted’’ ‘’fraudster’’ ‘’thug’’ ‘’Tommeh’’ was emotively hateful, vindictive, bitter, merciless and above all, ugly.
Compare and contrast this with the reactions of former rank and file hard working class retired police officers, now at liberty to speak their mind.
WHAT OF THE LAW?
First of all it must be clarified that Tommy did not breach a reporting restriction because this was imposed on HIS court appearance for ‘Contempt of Court’, and NOT on the trial of the 29 Muslim men accused of rape.
The pertinent question, therefore, is whether Tommy Robinson committed contempt of court by breaching the terms of his suspended sentence?
The first point to be made is that it is not illegal to report on a trial that is still ongoing – reporting is only illegal if it is done ”prejudicially”, which is the qualification used by the Contempt of Court Act 1981. According to CPS guidelines section 4(2) of that Act empowers the court ‘’where it appears to be necessary for avoiding a substantial risk of prejudice to the administration of justice in those proceedings, or in any other proceedings pending or imminent, to order that the publication of any report of the proceedings… be postponed for such period as the court thinks necessary for that purpose.’’
Now it can be argued that nothing Tommy said was prejudicial – certainly reading off the names of the accused, even if Tommy omitted to use the qualification ‘alleged’ a couple of times – could not reasonably be said to have created a substantial risk to the administration of justice, when various newspapers including the Metro had published the same information earlier on the same day.
In other words, nothing Tommy said outside Leeds Crown Court on day 24th May was not already in the public domain.
One must also bear in mind that Tommy was outside the courthouse and the jurors inside the courthouse had no access to the outside world. Further, the jurors were expected to reach their verdict later that same day.
And the other consideration is that the conviction may have been unsafe. The question as to why the reporting restriction was imposed, and more importantly who it served to protect. One of the rape trial defendants is specifically named in the Reporting Restriction: ‘’Akhtar’’ and refers to Cllr Jahangir Akhtar who resigned as Deputy Leader of Rotherham MBC but remains a councillor there. We must also ask whether the judge, Geoffrey Marson QC a witness to Tommy’s actions?
With the recent travesties of justice – (legal aid being granted to convicted child rapists to fight deportation but denied to Tommy, the premature release of Anjem Choudary, who has served less than half his prison sentence etc) it is increasingly difficult now for many in England, let alone the rest of the world to retain confidence in our judicial system.
Indeed since Tommy’s arrest just a week ago there have been countless worldwide protests calling for Tommy’s release – from Tel Aviv to Toronto to Tasmania – and several across major cities in the UK, with the next major protest scheduled for central London on Saturday 9th June. Despite the wishful thinking of the chattering classes there can be no doubt that Tommy’s incarceration was a political act.
However, I am delighted that Tommy’s manager Caolan Robertson has confirmed that Tommy be appealing his conviction.
In the mean time I will take another opportunity to reaffirm that everyone in the UK has the statutory right, under section 29J Public Order Act 1986 ‘’protection of freedom of expression’’ to ‘’criticise, ridicule, express antipathy and dislike, insult or abuse a particular religion or the beliefs and practices of its adherents’’.
Whether or not he succeeds in his appeal, Tommy Robinson of course will have the last laugh. His supporter base has tripled and taken on a global dimension since he was sent to prison.
But to suggest that Tommy is a publicity seeker is to be – well – inherently middle class and out of touch. The middle class tend to concern themselves with careers and self-improvement, the working class with the family, the community and the tribe. And this is what has always been paramount in Tommy’s mind: protecting and defending his community, his country and his people.
To paraphrase David Goodheart, speaking on the demographics of the Brexit, Tommy is one of the Somewheres – he is not an Anywhere. The chattering classes are correct that Tommy Robinson does not exist. Tommy Robinson is of course greater than Stephen Yaxley Lennon, he is a persona – Tommy Robinson is a football supporter, the working class man on the Clapham Omnibus. He is quite literally an individual representing the many