A judge has referred the contempt case of English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson back to the Attorney General because it is “too complex” to be heard at the Old Bailey.
Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC had been due to hold a day-long hearing at London’s historic central criminal court, but said the case must be referred back after receiving a statement from Robinson – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – on Monday.
The court heard that in the current setting, lawyers would not be able to perform an appropriate cross-examination of the evidence.
“I think it necessary to look at quite a lot of the detail of what Mr Yaxley-Lennon said in the broadcast as to come to the overall picture as to what happened,” the judge said, closing proceedings after just a few minutes.
Robinson was released on bail.
The defendant was freed from prison in August after three leading judges quashed a contempt of court finding made at Leeds Crown Court.
But he could be sent back to jail if he is again found in contempt for filming people in a criminal trial in Leeds and broadcasting the footage on social media.
Tuesday’s hearing began with Robinson, wearing a grey suit, pink tie and red poppy, sitting behind his lawyer and speaking quietly to confirm his identity.
Before entering the courtroom, the 35-year-old announced he had scored a victory regardless of whether he is sent back to jail.
“No matter what happens today, I’ve already won,” he told crowds.
“Their attempts to silence and stop people having the knowledge of the Muslim rape gangs that are terrorising our nation.
“The entire world is now watching.”
He blamed the Government, police and social services for “sacrificing a generation of our daughters at the hands of the multiculturalism altar”.
The media is “the enemy of the people”, he yelled, eliciting the crowd to respond: “Shame on you.”
“We want Tommy out,” supporters shouted, as they filmed him on their phones.
They patted the suited EDL founder on the back and expressed their gratitude.
A supporter wearing a Union flag suit said: “I have come here to support Tommy because there’s so many injustices going on in the world today.
“I’ve learned so many things in the last two years, such as the killings of anyone that’s not of the Islamic faith.”
A passing cyclist said: “Fascist.”
Robinson fans – largely male, with some drinking cans of Stella Artois – numbered in the hundreds. A small group of anti-fascism campaigners faced them from behind the stage, where fans anticipated a speech from the EDL founder.
Among the flags was one for Generation Identity, which anti-fascism campaign group Hope Not Hate describes as a “racist movement” that supports segregation along racial lines.
Asked what the flag was, the bearer said: “F*** off and look it up on the internet.”
Another supporter asked why he was in attendance said: “We are supporting a prosecuted journalist.”
Rebel Media founder Ezra Levant addressed the crowd in anticipation of Robinson.
“There are only 1,500 of you here today but there are millions more of you around the world that are watching in support,” he said.
He claimed his organisation had brought along reporters from around the world including the US and Australia to “provide a counterweight to the British media party that has a vendetta against Tommy Robinson”.
A man beside him called an end to the interview. “Nonce,” he said, clutching a can of Strongbow.
They expressed fears that the “mainstream media” would not portray the case fairly.