Today, Ezra Levant of Rebel Media is back in court at Cambridge, live-Tweeting the trial resulting from the decision of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, to sue Cambridgeshire Police for harassment. And what is all too clear is that Levant is there under sufferance, after he was given a significant telling-off by the judge, Her Honour Judge Walden-Smith, after close of business yesterday.
The dressing-down was not included in the Cambridgeshire Live account of the trial, because court had adjourned for the day, but on Levant’s own Twitter feed, where it was instructive to see the change between his usual know-all dismissiveness to the realisation that his behaviour was now verging on the kind of thing that could see him banned.
“Mr. Clemens, the lawyer for @CambsCops just called out to me from across the building. He said, ‘I suggest you not leave the building’. It was very odd. I asked him what he meant, and he said he would say nothing more … I’m not sure what he means, but I presume he has made some complaint about my tweets again. I’ll wait around … Mr. Clemens is very mad at me”, he smirked. And there was more.
“I asked Mr. Clemens if it was personal and he said ‘no’. I asked if it was something for which I needed to retain a lawyer. He said ‘that’s up to you’. I think maybe I have hurt his feelings, so perhaps he’s trying to hurt mine, but I find it just confusing … I’ll stick around to see if the judge wants to talk with me further. I can’t imagine she wants to, but maybe Mr. Clemens is asking her to … Anyways, I think Clemens is complaining to the judge [about] me. I think that’s the only explanation that makes sense for asking me to stick around. I have no other obligations this afternoon so I’ll wait to see if the judge herself really does want to talk with me”. She really did. And then the tone changed markedly.
“I have had my meeting with the judge in the courtroom. The two lawyers were there, as well as the clerk and usher. So it was the six of us, and we talked about my tweeting … I told the judge it was her courtroom and I had no desire to get offside with her - and I'd comply with whatever she proposed … She reiterated her view that I shouldn't offer an opinion on the goings-on of the case, that I should report it without commentary, and to save any comments until after she renders her judgement”. Do go on.
“I asked the judge to tell me what tweets were causing her concern; she didn't want to be specific, although she did mention a few where I speculated about what a future witness might say. She also reference a few opinions, and a joke [court reporters don’t do jokes] … I have therefore deleted five tweets - three were opinions, one was a guess about a future witness, and one was a joke”. Most enterprising of him. But he wasn’t through yet.
“I'm not a party in this trial; I'm not legal counsel; I have no standing; in fact, I'm not even a Brit. So I wouldn't dare to try to change a judge's view about such things. And: she is surely right about the status of British freedom of the press. That's what makes me so sad”. It’s got stuff all to do with the freedom of the press, of which Levant is not a part.
And he was seen leaving. “When I left that meeting - it wasn't a hearing, even though everyone was there; it was a conversation in the courtroom - some photographers for the tabloids were there, to snap pictures of me. I'm sure this will be reported with glee. By journalists”. Real journalists, he means. And no mention so far.
Perhaps they all know the rules. Still, Levant was sure he was right in the retelling: “I would argue that in the age of social media, rules about reporting in courts ought to be modernized. And in the UK, they certainly ought to be clarified. Certainly the law reform commission has said so”. That’s not his concern. It won’t put him in the right.
“But like I say, that's not my fight. And judging by the reaction of those with skin in the game - British lawyers, journalist, and mainly the public - most people are fine with these restrictions”. Because we do things differently in this country. Levant should have read up on these matters before he got on the plane and decided to wing it.
Even at the end of telling his sob story, it was someone else’s fault. “I'll be back in court tomorrow and it will be stenography. I don't need to be told a third time and I certainly don't want to irritate the judge … And I guess instead of being sad about the state of the free press in the UK, I should preserve what we have left in Canada”. FREEDOM! No. It’s not about freedom. It’s about knowing what the heck you’re doing. And Levant didn’t know.
Once again, he was brought over from Canada at Stephen Lennon’s request, because he would tell the story the hated MSM would not. Instead, he’s come very, very close to finding himself in contempt of court because he doesn’t know what he’s doing.
He hasn’t helped Lennon’s cause at all this week. He may even have hindered it.
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