After Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, fetched up at Leeds Crown Court and did a Facebook Live video - despite the trial he was looking at being subject to reporting restrictions which he knew about - and as a result was arrested and later convicted of contempt of court for the second time in eighteen months, he went to jail, where he remains. But his supporters had other ideas.
Almost as soon as Lennon had been dispatched to Hull Prison, there was talk of some kind of appeal. Why, though, would anyone bother with appealing against a guilty plea (and it should be noted that Lennon had also pleaded guilty when there was a previous contempt of court hearing in Canterbury)? But appeal there will be, and it will be heard next month, before a very well known senior judge.
This is what Ezra Levant - who has returned to Lennon’s side, it seems - has said in the last 24 hours: “The Right Honourable Lord Justice Leveson, the most senior criminal judge in the United Kingdom, will hear Tommy Robinson’s appeal … Justice Leveson is the president of the Queen’s Bench Division and the Head of Criminal Justice … In addition to being the UK’s most senior criminal judge, Justice Leveson is known for chairing the inquiry into the UK phone hacking scandal. He is familiar with the media, which is relevant to Tommy’s case”. I suspect he also knows the contempt of court law.
But Lennon pleaded guilty, so what is the argument? John Carson of Carson Kaye, claimed to be Lennon’s new lawyers, have provided Levant with a statement. “They have lodged an appeal against the sentence. That means: they are challenging the judge’s 13-month prison term … The second part of Mr. Carson’s note indicates that he is asking for bail for Tommy, until the appeal is heard”. And the grounds for that appeal?
“One of the craziest parts of this whole thing was that Tommy went from being scooped up on the street by seven cops, to prison, in a matter of a few hours. That’s absurd - he didn’t even have time to properly instruct a lawyer of his own choosing. Getting Tommy out on bail will not only allow him to visit his family and friends, but it will allow him to have proper meetings with his lawyers”. Not sure that will cut much ice.
Levant claims that he will be, effectively, underwriting the costs of this appeal, which, as it is going to be heard on July 10 at The Royal Courts of Justice, before the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, is going to cost a significant sum of money. But he has given his followers the chance to contribute: “Tommy is not independently wealthy. He and his family have asked me to crowdfund the massive legal bills this appeal”.
And remember, this is a win-win for Lennon: if he wins his appeal, even if only partly, he demonstrates that his sentence was too harsh, and that the Establishment is agin him. And if he loses, he can claim that the judiciary, even Sir Brian Leveson, is part of that nefarious Establishment conspiracy, which is also agin him.
Then, the next “Free Tommy” rally on July 14 could well turn violent. Hey ho.