Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, better known as Tommy Robinson, has been sentenced to nine months in jail for contempt of court.
Last week, the former English Defence League (EDL) leader was found guilty of interfering with the trial of a sexual grooming gang at Leeds Crown Court in May 2018 when he filmed the defendants entering the court house and broadcast the video live on Facebook.
Two Old Bailey judges said Robinson’s Facebook Live stream during the trial had encouraged “vigilante action”.
The way Robinson acted in broadcasting images of defendants during a trial could prejudice the case and cause it to collapse. That did not happen in this case, but the courts have been clear that such actions are not permitted and Robinson was clearly warned he would be in contempt of court if he continued to live stream. He ignored the warnings and was arrested.
In response to the sentencing, Robinson messaged sent a message via the encrypted Telegram app that he was “sentenced to prison for journalism” and called on his fans that it was “time for protests to start”.
On Wednesday, Robinson pleaded to Donald Trump to provide him with “political asylum” in the United States instead of facing prison for his crimes.
Outside the court, Robinson’s supporters booed the decision and pelted police with cans and bottles.
Robinson has long been an outlier in British politics, forming the EDL in the wake of the collapse of the British National Party (BNP). However, after leaving the group, he has since found alliance with UKIP, where he was appointed advisor, and has spoken alongside leading Brexiteers at events such as the so-called “Brexit Betrayal March”.