Supporters of Tommy Robinson chanted “scum” at journalists outside the Old Bailey this morning as the English Defence League founder called the media “the enemy of the people” in an attack on the free press.
Robinson – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – addressed a large crowd of supporters from a raised platform outside the court before and after his hearing and used the opportunity to target newspapers and journalists.
“To the journalists… the British public do not trust you, they do not believe you. You are the enemy of the people,” he said, leading to chants of “scum” from the crowd, seemingly aimed at the press.
At one point Robinson singled out a reporter by name whom he said had “refused” to remove an article about him, leading to cries of “shame on you” from the crowd.
Police had closed off the road outside the Old Bailey and deployed uniformed officers to line temporary barricades.
Robinson, who faces contempt of court charges, was released on bail today as Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC sent his case to the Attorney General for consideration after receiving a statement from Robinson on Monday.
A decision will now be made over whether or not to refer the former EDL frontman to the High Court for contempt.
Robinson was jailed for 13 months in May for allegedly breaching reporting restrictions on a set of interconnected grooming gang trials at Leeds Crown Court via a Facebook Live video, that also recorded his arrest.
He was already serving a suspended sentence for committing contempt during a rape trial in Canterbury last year.
Robinson was freed in August after the Court of Appeal found that the way his case was handled had been “fundamentally flawed”.
Reporting restrictions on the sex ring case were only lifted on Friday, with press reporting that the gang had been jailed for more than 220 years between them for sexually abusing at least 15 girls aged between 11 and 17.
Speaking ahead of the court hearing this morning, Robinson said: “You wish to portray that I’m hated, whereas in reality it’s you that are hated.
“You have lied, you have played your part and all of you who call yourselves journalists you all knew what was happening to those girls in all those towns and cities and you’d done nothing, you said nothing.”
He claimed three national newspaper journalists had also breached reporting restrictions on the same weekend that he was imprisoned.
“You all know they did and none of you reported that,” he said. None of you have identified that I am being tried because of who I am, not what I done [sic].”
He added: “This country is corrupt, our legal system is corrupt, our media are corrupt, our Government is corrupt.”
Ezra Levant, founder of Rebel Media, which counts Robinson and ex-Mail Online columnist Katie Hopkins among its contributors, claimed to have brought along reporters from around the world to “provide a counterweight to the British media party that has a vendetta against Tommy Robinson”.
Levant himself also broadcast from outside the court.
In reference to a recent interview with Sky News, Robinson said: “There is not one mainstream news network in this country that has told the truth, that has reported the facts.
“You all saw what happened with Sky News, you all saw their lies, their manipulation, their agenda.”
Press Gazette has asked Sky to respond to the claims.
PA reported that one Robinson supporter, when asked why he was in attendance, had said: “We are supporting a prosecuted journalist.”
Another, clutching a can of cider, expressed fears that the “mainstream media” would not portray the case fairly, the news wire reported.
Speaking after his hearing, Robinson said he wanted to be treated like “every other journalist” charged with contempt.
He said: “It is my understanding that there is no individual in the last 60 years that has been sentenced to prison for a publication breach of a reporting order.
“It would appear my punishment is exceptional, I would ask that I am treated in the same manner as every other journalist who has been charged with these allegations.”
He referenced other journalists who had received fines instead of jail time for breaching contempt of court laws.
He later claimed the Daily Mirror had run “hit piece after hit piece” against him “for this crime, when they have committed far worse in their history”.
Press Gazette has asked the Daily Mirror for comment.