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THE decision to release Stephen Yaxley-Lennon on bail after his jailing for contempt of court was branded a travesty by anti-fascists outside the Royal Courts of Justice today.
The far-right leader, who goes by the name of Tommy Robinson, was released from HMP Onley near Rugby after the Court of Appeal ruled that a finding of contempt at Leeds Crown Court had been “fundamentally flawed.”
In May Mr Yaxley-Lennon, who had been previously convicted for a number of offences including football-related violence and fraud, was sentenced to 10 months behind bars five hours after live-streaming the arrival of defendants in an ongoing trial at Leeds. A judge also activated a three-month suspended sentence for contempt relating to a case at Canterbury Crown Court in May 2017.
The Lord Chief Justice quashed the finding of contempt at Leeds as it had been inappropriate for the judge to deal with the contempt immediately and because Mr Yaxley-Lennon was provided with “no clear statement” of what had put him in contempt of court.
But Lord Burnett dismissed Mr Yaxley-Lennon’s appeal against the Canterbury finding, ruling that there had been “no doubt about the conduct which was said to amount to contempt.”
He said Mr Yaxley-Lennon would be bailed until a rehearing of the Leeds contempt case at the Old Bailey, to be listed “as soon as reasonably possible.”
Lord Burnett added, however that Mr Yaxley-Lennon may be given an even longer jail term if he was found in contempt of court at the fresh hearing.
Outside court, supporters of the former leader of the racist English Defence League (EDL) traded chants with anti-fascist protesters separated by police.
Far-right fanboys were taunted with a chorus of “Master race? You’re having a laugh” and “Nazi scum, off our streets.”
London Young Labour chairman Artin Giles said: “Dear Tommy, dear Tommy supporters, what’s clear is that you don’t represent us.
“We have been fighting for people’s rights for the last 100 years and we have been fighting scum like you for the last 100 years.
“All you will ever represent is a racist ideology of hate and love always trumps hate. We are united against you, we are united against fascism and we are united against the politics of division. Tommy Robinson, fuck off.”
Stand Up To Racism co-convener Weyman Bennett said: “There is a danger that Tommy Robinson’s release on bail will embolden far-right and racists across the Britain.
“Racism and fascism have no place in the 21st century.”
Mr Bennett told the Star: “It is a travesty that Tommy Robinson has been released on bail and what it represents is racism and fascism being allowed to organise in this country unhindered.
“The truth is that Tommy Robinson has a long criminal history and I don’t think this is something that would be afforded to a trade unionist or a black boy from Tottenham, where I’m from.”
In a statement, Hope Not Hate said: “‘Tommy Robinson’ is a convicted criminal. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, his actual name, remains a far-right extremist and a violent thug.
“Stephen Yaxley-Lennon is a fraud. He’s been silent about sexual abusers within the EDL, including one man given a 17-year sentence this year.
“With his convictions for violence and his intimidation against journalists, he has shown utter contempt for justice and the rule of law.”
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