Thursday 4 July 2019

Dom v Yax

For anyone who's interested, here's a complete record of BBC Home Affairs Correspondent Dominic Casciani's tweets today concerning the latest Tommy Robinson trial:

  • TODAY AT THE OLD BAILEY: Anti-Islam activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who goes by the alter-ego/stage name "Tommy Robinson" faces trial for an alleged serious Contempt of Court last year. I'm there to report the whole very complicated business.
  • Mr Yaxley-Lennon is facing serious allegations that his live broadcast on Facebook in May 2017 outside Leeds Crown Court interfered with the trial of men who were accused of running a grooming gang. Why's that wrong, I hear you ask?
  • Under our law, if someone interferes with a fair trial, the defendants can walk free if a jury has been influenced. That's the rule here - other nations have different approaches. Contempt also covers other actions that interfere with justice being done.
  • Today, the allegations against Mr Yaxley-Lennon will be heard in court. I and other bona fide British journalists will be working hard to report accurately and fairly the proceedings.
  • Good morning from Court Two of the Old Bailey. I'm here for today to hear and report the Contempt of Court case brought by the Attorney General against anti-Islam activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as "Tommy Robinson".
  • Andrew Caldecott QC will be leading the case for the Attorney General against Stephen Yaxley-Lennon. The allegations concern his live Facebook streaming outside a sexual grooming gang trial in Leeds in May 2017.
  • Andrew Caldecott explains what Contempt of Court means: The sole purpose of the law is to give our courts the power to protect the rights of the public, "to ensure that the administration of justice shall not be impeded or obstructed."
  • Onto the facts: 29 men were charged in early 2017 in relation to a massive alleged sexual grooming conspiracy in Huddersfield. This huge case was split into a number of trials to make it manageable. The case against SYL/Tommy Robinson relates to events in the 2nd trial.
  • Before that trial began, a judge had ordered that all reporting should be *postponed* until all the trials were completed - there was a concern that reporting of the earlier trials could influence a jury in the later trials. (This is quite common in linked trials.)
  • Tommy Robinson/SYL: The trial hears that he asked a security guard about reporting restrictions in the case - but the guard did not know and told him to seek further advice. Instead, he went outside and began his Facebook live stream.
  • Yaxley-Lennon later said: "I was under the impression that the trial had now finished and we were just waiting for the jury verdict."
  • Andrew Caldecott QC: "The primary case is that Mr Yaxley-Lennon knew full well that there was a reporting restriction in place. He was in court and could have ascertained its terms with ease and it was a wholly unreasonable risk to speculate what the terms were or might be."
  • Tommy Robinson: Court has now seen the first and second of the alleged confrontations with some of the defendants.  SYL approaches a group of them and says repeatedly: "How you feeling about your verdict... Got your prison bag?"
  • One of the defendants appears to reply: "Go F*** your mum's fanny." TR/SYL then turns to his camera and says: "Doesn't seem like much guilt ... that anyone is ashamed."
  • (May 2018 - apols)
  • Tommy Robinson/Stephen Yaxley-Lennon: Counsel for SYL, Richard Furlong, is questioning a court official about why there was no public notice of the reporting restriction in the case.
  • The official, Michelle Dunderdale, says the reporting restriction that Mr Yaxley-Lennon is said to have broken was neither added to a computer system nor attached to the door of the courtroom.
  • Ms Dunderdale stresses that court staff should carry out extensive checks to answer a public/press inquiry about whether a reporting restriction exists - including messaging the clerk who's managing the trial in question.
  • She says general office staff were aware of the reporting restriction that Stephen Yaxley-Lennon allegedly broke - and could have found it if he had asked.
  • "Every member of staff in that office knew there was a press restriction in place."
  • Richard Furlong, for Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson, is setting out his client's defence. He says that SYL's did not invite his followers/viewers to harass the defendants in the Facebook livestream.
  • He says his client's live stream was seen by 10,000 initially - but then duplicated to youtube where it was seen by a much larger audience - up to 250,000 - in the days that followed.
  • Mr Furlong says Mr Yaxley-Lennon's behaviour was in the "robust tradition" of challenging criminal defendants. 
  • "It may have been offensive, but did not cross the line into contempt."
  • IN THE WITNESS BOX: Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson now giving evidence in his defence. He's wearing a light grey suit.
  • Mr Yaxley-Lennon/Tommy Robinson says his Facebook page was followed by 1.2m people worldwide.
  • Andrew Caldecott QC, for the AG, is now questioning Mr Yaxley-Lennon/Tommy Robinson.
  • Mr Yaxley-Lennon/Tommy Robinson confirms that he understood before going to Leeds to film his Facebook Live that the huge trial of a grooming gang from Huddersfield had been split into a series of trials.
  • SYL/TR confirms he was aware that the first of the series of trials had taken place and there had been verdicts. Caldecott QC: It must have occurred to you that the reason why the media were not reporting it was because there was a reporting restriction in place?
  • Mr Yaxley-Lennon appears to suggest that it was a confusing situation.
  • Mr Caldecott, for the AG, says it was odd for the media to have reported the pre-trial hearing, but not the actual trial outcome, unless they were aware that there was a reporting restriction in place. (In his video, SYL complains that the media are not reporting the case.)
  • Stephen Yaxley-Lennon says he received training in contempt of court from one of London's top law firms, Kingsley Napley . "I hold my hands up that I made mistakes in previous court cases", he says, so he got some training from the firm before the Leeds incident.
  • Court hears that when Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was doing his Facebook-Live outside court he was quoting from an article about the defendants written in 2017 - ie before the trial and before the reporting restrictions had been imposed.
  • Andrew Caldecott QC is cross-examining Stephen Yaxley-Lennon why he did not establish what the reporting restrictions were before he left Luton to perform his Facebook Live outside court in Leeds.
  • Mr YL is asked if he went into court to find out "if the reporting restriction had been lifted" - in other words that he knew there had been a reporting restriction. "That's correct," says Mr YL.
  • Caldecott QC notes that Mr YL does not disagree with an account of a member of security at Leeds who had advised SYL  to go to the general office in the court to establish the status of the reporting restriction. "He was plainly trying to help you."
  • "I'm saying, from what I remember, that [the security guard] didn't know. I did not get the answer I needed from him."
  • Caldecott: And the reason why you did not take his advice [to ask about the reporting restriction at the office] was because "you wanted to film the defendants... you knew they tended to arrive early at court."
  • Court adjourning for lunch. Back later.
  • Hello again from the Old Bailey where Stephen Yaxley-Lennon/Tommy Robinson is continuing to give evidence in his defence against three allegations of interfering with a sexual grooming gang trial in Leeds.
  • Andrew Caldecott QC, for the attorney general, is asking Stephen Yaxley-Lennon/Tommy Robinson to explain what he did in detail to work out whether there were reporting restrictions in place at the trial in Leeds.
  • The court hears that one of TR's filming assistants with him in Leeds took a picture of the court list screen. It didn't display any warnings of reporting restrictions. This is a key part of SYL's defence.
  • Yaxley-Lennon says prior to being released by the Court of Appeal (for this case to be reheard) "I had given up, I had committed no crime and been sentenced to 13 months. I was genuinely under the impression I had been put in jail to be killed. I wrote letters to my children."
  • Andrew Caldecott, for the Attorney General, says that Yaxley-Lennon's account is inconsistent - that his evidence isn't clear about who checked what at court and online to find out about the reporting restrictions.
  • Andrew Caldecott QC, for the AG, is now asking Tommy Robinson why he confronted defendants as they arrived at court and asked them "How are you feeling about your verdict... have you got your prison bag with you?" 
  • TR says that he was not presuming they were guilty. He had learned not to do so. That had been the main focus of his legal training. "That was the main point I took - not to assume guilt."
  • Andrew Caldecott QC, barrister for the Attorney General: "You see yourself as the people's media channel, don't you?" Yaxley-Lennon: "I do, yes" #TommyRobinson
  • Stephen Yaxley-Lennon denies that, during his Facebook video, that he was trying to whip up an atmosphere among his supporters that could lead to vigilante action over grooming gangs.
  • He tells court he was telling viewers about how some Sikh communities had defended their women.
  • Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka #TommyRobinson tells Old Bailey that his former assistant @CaolanRob went on to work to "defame" him by providing information to a "far-left organisation" investigating TR's activity.
  • Lady Justice Sharp has just told the court that the trial of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon will continue into tomorrow.
  • TRAINEE REPORTERS: If you want some FREE MEDIA LAW ADVICE head to Court Two of the Old Bailey NOW.  Andrew Caldecott QC, for the Attorney General, is now going to take the Stephen Yaxley-Lennon trial through the law of contempt of court.
  • You won't get in without a press card and trial ticket, mind. So follow my tweets instead...
  • One of the key issues in the Stephen Yaxley-Lennon case is that during his Facebook Live he talked about allegations that the defendants faced - information that had been publicised before a judge imposed a reporting restriction until the conclusion of proceedings.
  • In short, Andrew Caldecott QC explains that even if facts about a case have been previously published, a judge can still impose a reporting restriction on further coverage **if** he or she believes reporting of that trial must be **postponed** to ensure it's heard fairly.
  • The trial of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who goes by the name Tommy Robinson, is adjourned until tomorrow. Back then - Thanks for reading.


  1. Mr Casciani wastes a hell of a lot of his tweets by repeatedly referring to Tommy as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, he seems rather obsessed by it.

  2. Dominic Casciani claims he is a "bona fide" journalist". Is that a "bona fide journalist" like John Sweeney?

    DC couldn't have made it clearer that this is a grudge match between the MSM and Tommy, not just between the state and Tommy.

    Another who has been tweeting snarky tweets is Joshua Rozenberg. Rozenberg used his BBC radio programme to launch a gratuitous attack on Tommy claiming he had compromised the trial of the grooming gang - something for which there is absolutely no evidence, and not even the prosecution are trying to claim that.

    But there has been a strange silence from another BBC Bore - Daniel Sandford. I wonder whether the silence has been ordered by his BBC bosses. Daniel you may remember tweeted with reference to this case (on the eve of a previous hearing) details of Tommy's criminal record. A more prejudicial act is difficult to imagine. Sandford deleted the tweet. He suffered no negative consequences.

    There you have the double standard system of justice operating in this country.

  3. It was Dominic Casciani who tweeted:

    ...'Worth mentioning that the ringleader of this massive abuse ring that we can now report was not a Muslim. He came from a Sikh background.' ... in respect of the court case during which TR was arrested. It very soon emerged that he did not come from a Sikh background but that he converted whilst he was under investigation.

    1. They've all got form: Casciani, Sandford and Rozenberg. Their loathing of Tommy is secreted from every orifice.

    2. Why was it 'Worth mentioning'? Was Casciani's tweet meant to exonerate the ringleader, by somehow tarnishing other religions with the same brush?

  4. Have you been Yaxinated? Ask your friendly BBC for a list of recommended Yaxinations. Dr Casciani will be pleased to advise at any time. If necessary Dr. Casciani can arrange for simple lunchtime lobotomy procedure. Lobotomies are free on the BBC. Dr Casciani is a bona fide doctor.

    "BBC - Here to help you not think."

  5. Thought I’d try some Craig style data analysis on Casciani's 1,763 Twitter words above:
    Robinson: 17 vs. Yaxley-Lennon: 31
    Caldecott: 15 vs. Furlong: 3
    Anti-Islam: 2 vs. Islam: 0
    Grooming: 6 vs. Rape: 0

  6. If you Google Tommy Robinson Retrial, the first entry in a special window of its own is the BBC story from yesterday:

    ...'Tommy Robinson 'reckless' to broadcast outside court'...

    Out of all the news outlets - The BBC must be the go-to source for this information?

  7. Sean Ley reporting on the chainsawed image of Melania Trump in Slovenia. He smirked. They're all smirking. It's what they do.
    Now imagine it was a chainsawed image of Michelle Obama in Africa. My, how the narrative would change.


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