Pro-Britain nationalist Tommy Robinson was freed from prison after UK Court of Appeals judge ruled that he was given an unfair trial under faulty circumstances, reports BBC.
“We are satisfied that the finding of contempt made in Leeds following a fundamentally flawed process, in what we recognise were difficult and unusual circumstances,” said Justice Burnett, who ruled on Robinson’s appeals case.
Robinson, who is a former leader of the English Defense league and an anti-immigration activist, was initially jailed over filming near a criminal trial [Rotherham grooming Trial] that was subject to reporting restrictions. The trial Robinson was filming was especially controversial, involving the rape of young British girls by Pakistani grooming gangs over the course of many years in North England. The UK government had decided that this trial was too polarized to adjudicate in normal circumstances and thus instituted reporting restrictions and a media blackout to ensure a unbiased hearing. Robinson received a harsher punishment of one year imprisonment for breaking this reporting restriction due to a prior suspended sentence for the same crime. Robinson’s quick trial and imprisonment drew outrage from those empathetic to Robinson’s activism, from average British citizens to major political leaders.
A statement by Robinson’s solicitors said “The rule of law and right to a fair hearing are fundamental to every individual and this ruling is an example of the safeguards of our system.”
Robinson’s trial was viewed by his supporters as hasty and politically motivated. The Robinson’s entire trial, from arrest at the Rotherham trial to imprisonment, occurred in a span of 5 hours. An online petition for his release had more than 500,000 signatures from supporters worldwide and Right Wing political leaders like Dutch politician Geert Wilders passionately argued for his release.
“For we protect our own people. Whatever the price may be. That is why I stand here in solidarity with Tommy Robinson.” said Wilders in a statement released after Robinson’s imprisonment, reports Townhall.
At Robinson’s appeals trial, Chief Justice Burnett ruled that there had been technical flaws by the judge who imprisoned Robinson. The appeals judge stated that the initial trial judge should not have started contempt proceedings the “same day” as Tommy was arrested and asserted that there was “a muddle over the nature of the contempt being considered” in regards to Robinson ignoring his previous suspended sentence.
While Robinson is free now, he still must face trial for the same crime under a different judge.