It had to happen: after Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, was jailed for his second contempt of court in 18 months, someone else out there on the far right wanted a piece of the same action. And to no surprise at all, it was pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins who stepped, perhaps unwittingly, into the breech as she decided that a mere contempt law was not going to stop her sounding off.
Viewers may still want to look away now
Hatey Katie, who is still in Israel, mainly because someone else is paying, has been keeping watch on a trial involving an incident that occurred in the vicinity of Buckingham Palace last year. The jury could not reach a verdict, and so the trial collapsed. But a retrial of the defendant has been ordered. So contempt rules still apply.
So it was that the Secret Barrister told yesterday “Morning Twitter. A number of you have RT’d a video by a far-right reality TV bozo offering her opinions on a recent trial in which a jury could not reach a verdict. Criminal proceedings are ongoing. This video is an obvious contempt of court. Don’t RT under any circumstances”, followed by warning Ms Hopkins “There is to be a retrial. Criminal proceedings are live. This is a flagrant contempt of court”.
That was followed by an interesting intervention from David Banks: “Katie really ought to know this. When she was at LBC I gave them a law refresher which went over contempt and commenting on active proceedings in some detail. Strict liability of course, so what she knows or not is immaterial”. But out on the far right, all this cut no ice.
Out came the predictable excuses. “They have said just the same as she has, the jury did not come to a decision” … “Are all newspapers and media then in contempt , or are you showing bias?” [it’s got bugger all to do with “bias”] … “Just her journalistic P.O.V. how is [this] contempt of court?” Yeah, it was all about FREE SPEECH! She was allowed to have her point of view! No-one can stop you having an opinion!
Oh, and it was left-wing and unpatriotic to criticise Ms Hopkins. You think I jest? “Rubbish. We are allowed to express opinion on the outcome of a trial.. it's already been discussed in newspapers. You are a disgrace to our country with your left wing ideology and agenda”. The fingers-in-ears-I-can’t-hear-you brigade was there in support: “How is the commentary going to collapse a future trial? Even the MSM have commented on the collapsed trial”.
There was worse, as the Secret Barrister hinted later in the day. “I apologise. A number of you have been in touch to angrily tell me that your racist instincts trump my law degree and decade of criminal legal practice. I consider myself duly chastened”. And one Tweeter put the question directly: “Why are these 'Free Tommy' characters determined to collapse trials? Here, Katie, do a bit of research instead of making it all about you”.
Certainly, if Ms Hopkins gets hit with a contempt conviction, while it might boost her martyrdom status, her value to the likes of Rebel Media will go down the pan - because the authorities in the USA will bar her from entering the country. And that will mean most of her income vanishes - probably overnight.
These pretend journalists never learn. And nor do their fans.