Today, the appeal by Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, against being given a custodial sentence after pleading guilt to his second contempt of court in 18 months, was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand. The case was heard before Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, and not, as had been trailed, Lord Justice Leveson. Judgment was reserved and is expected later this month.
Thus the normal functioning of the English legal system, but even before the hearing, there had been moves to interfere in that process, precipitated by a representative of Combover Crybaby Donald Trump. Yes, you read that right.
As Reuters has reported, “Sam Brownback, the U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, complained to the British ambassador in Washington D.C. about the treatment of an English right-wing activist who is in jail for disrupting a trial … Brownback raised the case of the activist known as Tommy Robinson in a June meeting with Sir Kim Darroch, Britain’s Ambassador to the United States”.
Just imagine the reaction of those in the USA if someone from the UK had protested the treatment of a US national in jail there. The report continues “Brownback raised the jailing of Robinson during a meeting with Darroch that covered a range of ‘religious freedom issues’, the British official confirmed earlier this week”. Religious freedom? Whatever.
But the idea of a “religious freedom” angle on Lennon’s case, bizarre though it was, was not nearly as wacko as what followed. “Brownback told Darroch that if Britain did not treat Robinson more sympathetically, the Trump administration might be compelled to criticize Britain’s handling of the case”. Lennon is s serial criminal. Why the interest?
With considerable restraint, the report adds “Reuters was unable to determine why the top U.S. official responsible for defending religious freedom would try to intervene with the British government on behalf of an activist who has expressed anti-Islamic views”. Well, indeed. Religious freedom does not appear to be high on Lennon’s agenda.
Small wonder that pundit Mehdi Hasan observed “I want to say I’m astonished but…”, while the BBC’s James Cook noted “One of many remarkable things about this, if accurate, is that it implies the US thinks that is a) possible and b) acceptable for the UK government to interfere with a judge’s ruling”. It isn’t, and it isn’t.
It wasn’t about religious freedom either, as Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain pointed out: “Here is a picture of Sam Brownback - the US ambassador threatening the UK as he lobbies for the imprisoned far-right anti-Muslim Tommy Robinson - with Frank Gaffney who is ‘one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes’ (SPLC)”.
Ignorance of this country’s laws concerned the likes of Victoria Freeman: “Number of staggeringly stupid people who don’t realise Robinson actually put convictions at risk with his interfering in justice is amazing”. And Sunny Hundal spoke for many: “This is mind-boggling. Trump's team are now lobbying for a far-right thug. Threatening to interfere in our judicial system. This really takes the biscuit”. All this and Steve Bannon, too.
This interference on behalf of the Islamophobic far right is bang out of order.