Tommy Robinson: Arrest and Gag order in the UK

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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28 May 2018 07:39
 

Tommy Robinson is an extremely outspoken critic of Britain’s immigration policies. He frequently speaks and protests against the massive influx of Muslims into Britain. He has been in trouble with the law, and many consider him to be “far right” (as reported in the independent.uk article linked below).

A few days back he was outside a courthouse reporting on the case of Muslims being tried for “grooming” (i.e. sex trafficking).

He was arrested for “breaching the peace”. Within the span of a day, the judge tried him, convicted him, sent him to prison, and issued a gag order to the press. There are reports that he was not allowed counsel.

I find all of the authority’s actions shocking. I’m also linking to several news sources. The most “central” seems to be the independent.uk. I find it striking how different the independent’s reporting is to Gatestone’s reporting. It’s clear that Gatestone is an advocacy journalism organization, they are strongly anti-Islam and pro-Israel. But to me, their reporting seems objectively far more honest than the independent’s reporting. (As a side note, it would appear that many large news organizations are honoring the gag order, if anyone finds more mainstream reporting, please provide links!)

thoughts?

independent.uk

gatestone

fox

 
 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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28 May 2018 10:13
 

I disagree with your assessment that Gatestone is more objective/honest.  The first proper sentence includes the judgement that his activities were “*responsible* citizen journalism” (emp. mine).  I also find that it misrepresents (the current version of?) the independent article.

I don’t have much background in UK issues so I might miss some subtext, but the independent article left me with the sense that a right-wing activist was arrested, maybe for not doing anything too wrong.  The Gatestone article seemed much more strongly geared towards instilling a sense of outrage.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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29 May 2018 07:06
 
mapadofu - 28 May 2018 10:13 AM

I disagree with your assessment that Gatestone is more objective/honest.  The first proper sentence includes the judgement that his activities were “*responsible* citizen journalism” (emp. mine).  I also find that it misrepresents (the current version of?) the independent article.

I don’t have much background in UK issues so I might miss some subtext, but the independent article left me with the sense that a right-wing activist was arrested, maybe for not doing anything too wrong.  The Gatestone article seemed much more strongly geared towards instilling a sense of outrage.

While I “kind of” understand the idea of the gag order, it strikes me that it’s possibly the most important idea in the story, and the independent missed it. In fact, the entire set of actions of the authorities seems newsworthy, and the independent didn’t seem to focus on any of them. Instead, it seemed fixated on the character of the alleged perp.

 
 
Ola
 
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Ola
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29 May 2018 12:26
 

https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/tommy-robinson-prison-gag-order-1619241

Hard to get cold hard facts on this one,ice, but UK takes their restrictions on prejudicial reporting of court cases v seriously.

 
Ola
 
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29 May 2018 12:31
 

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/29/edl-founder-tommy-robinson-jailed-13-months

“The restriction was put in place temporarily to prevent reporting on the Robinson case prejudicing the outcome of the first trial. It was lifted after a judge heard submissions that the order was already being widely violated by members of the public online.”

 
Ola
 
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29 May 2018 13:18
 

https://thesecretbarrister.com/2018/05/25/what-has-happened-to-poor-tommy-robinson

“The Secret Barrister” is one of my favourite sources for law thingamabobs. This piece explains the law rather than the rights & wrongs of Robinson’s concerns.

TLDR? Tommy Robinson broke the law. He might have prejudiced not just this case but subsequent ones, leading to costly re-trials or even cancellation of future trials. Robinson’s sentence reflects that he was currently on a suspended sentence. This is not a case of free speech denied.


Worth noting: Robinson is not a journalist, a journalist at least has the sense to know that expressing one’s own views of guilt before a jury has had a chance to express its views is not journalism.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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29 May 2018 13:31
 

thanks Ola!

 
 
Quadrewple
 
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Quadrewple
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29 May 2018 23:33
 

Clearly Tommy Robinson broke the law by reporting on a case which was restricted from being reported on.

I suppose a problem would arise if there is no video evidence of someone’s illegal actions, they are arrested, and a reporting ban is slapped on their case.  Tommy Robinson’s livestream basically proves his guilt, but what happens if there is no video evidence one way or the other about what happened and the press is not allowed to publish the results of their inquiries?

I guess UK policymakers are willing to cross that bridge when they come to it or they have great trust in their judges and/or the accountability process already set up around these measures.  Are there limits on how long a judge can slap a reporting ban on a criminal case?  What was the initial reason for the reporting ban on the case Tommy Robinson was arrested for reporting on?  It would be nice to know these things.

So while there are some very bad arguments being made by his supporters, I’m not yet convinced there is nothing to worry about here as a British citizen.  I freely admit this could just be due to my ignorance about UK law or the specifics of the cases in question, though to be fair, the latter might be influenced by the UK’s ability to restrict reporting in the first place.

 
 
Ola
 
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Ola
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30 May 2018 03:34
 

There’s a link in this piece to a pdf of judge’s remarks this time last year in a similar (almost identical) situation—Tommy Robinson was filming outside the court in a similar trial, and received a suspended sentence for doing so, he also received very clear instructions about what would happen if he ever did this again. 

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/independent-and-leeds-live-win-legal-challenge-to-report-edl-founder-tommy-robinsons-jailing-for-contempt-after-video-live-stream/

 
Ola
 
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Ola
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30 May 2018 06:24
 

Are there limits on how long a judge can slap a reporting ban on a criminal case?  What was the initial reason for the reporting ban on the case Tommy Robinson was arrested for reporting on?  It would be nice to know these things.

We cannot know these things until after the trial/s concerned is finished.

Here’s my take on it, for what that’s worth.

The prosecutor of the Rochdale Grooming Gang trial (2012) is tweeting that the Rochdale trial was put under threat by various far right social media (e.g. BNP) circulating (potentially false) information about what the jury was deciding during the trial. It was deemed by defence counsel that this was trial/jury corruption, it was argued by the defence that the trial must be considered a mis-trial. This was rejected by the judge, however, but not without the prosecution first having to make the case that it wasn’t a mis-trial.

After the guilty verdicts, the guilty were named and reported on, all except for one man who “could not be named for legal reasons”. Some time later, reporters were able to tell us his name because it turned out he was indicted in another trial, and while that trial was ongoing it could have been very prejudicial if the jury had been filled with newspaper reports about his guilt on other cases.

The victims and witnesses in these sort of cases are under horrendous stress and sometimes trials have reporting restrictions to protect their safety or privacy.

Reporting restrictions are generally temporary, until the trial is completed, or until the full series of trials are completed. There are several trials this year, all are potentially linked. We may not get full details until the end of the year.

 

 
burt
 
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burt
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30 May 2018 10:09
Ola
 
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Ola
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31 May 2018 13:37
Quadrewple
 
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Quadrewple
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31 May 2018 22:50
 
Ola - 31 May 2018 01:37 PM

Let’s round it off with Douglas Murray
https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/05/tommy-robinson-grooming-gangs-britain-persecutes-journalist

As usual, Douglas Murray with the most thorough take on the issue.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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05 June 2018 13:20
 

Thanks Ola and thanks to Douglas Murray - all beautifully put.

 
 
lynmc
 
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lynmc
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07 June 2018 14:42
 

Mediabiasfactcheck.org rates the gatestone institute as “mixed” in factual reporting: https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/gatestone-institute/

The Independent’s rating is “high” in factual reporting: https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/the-independent/

Fox News also gets the “mixed” rating for factual reporting: https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/fox-news/

How do you determine that Gatestone is more reliable? 
- Do you think the Independent’s description of Robinson as “far-right” is wrong (as the Gatestone article insinuates)?  Or what exactly do you find incorrect in the Independent article?
- Which Independent article describes Robinson as a “hooligan?”  (a claim made by the Gatestone article)
- According to the Independent article on the Finsbury Park attack, Robinson was blamed for radicalizing the attacker by the UK’s most senior counter-terror officer, not by the Independent, are you claiming (as the Gatestone article claims) that the Independent originated this allegation?  If so, on what do you base the claim?

Just a short check uncovered numerous fallacies with the Gatestone article, none with the Independent article which, whatever its bias, sticks to facts in its reporting.  Based on the given article, I’d say mediabiasfactcheck.org is being generous to the Gatestone Institute in rating them “mixed” in factual reporting.