Friday, 5 July 2019

Dom v Yaz (Part II)


For anyone who's still interested, here's a complete record of BBC Home Affairs Correspondent Dominic Casciani's tweets today concerning the concluding day of the latest Tommy Robinson trial - a day that ended in Tommy aka Stephen being found guilty of contempt of court.

Towards the end of the thread (just before he takes issue with UKIP's Gerard Batten), you'll  spot that BBC Dom makes a snide reference to Fox News's 'We report, you decide'. So, in the same spirit, we'll just post Dom's tweets here and let you decide if they are impartial or not:

  • Hello again from the Old Bailey. I'm here for the second day of the contempt of court case brought by the Attorney General against Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who in public goes by the name #tommyrobinson.
  • Yesterday we heard the allegation that SYL/TR interfered with a trial at Leeds Crown Court of a sexual grooming gang by filming and confronting the men outside court and breaking a reporting restriction. He denies the allegations. Summary of Day One: [Link to BBC report]
  • Here's the heart of Mr Yaxley-Lennon's defence against the allegation - in essence he says he made checks to ensure there was not a reporting restriction in place. Counsel for the Attorney General says that SYL did not check with court staff:
  • (The BBC article referred to his statement is an old one summarising a preparatory stage of the prosecution - before a later court order postponing coverage of the trial that SYL/TR turned up at.)
  • Andrew Caldecott QC, for the Attorney General, is making his closing submissions. Our primary submission is that Mr Yaxley-Lennon knew that there was a reporting restriction in place, our fall-back position is that he knew that it was likely." #TommyRobinson
  • If that is right, argues Mr Caldecott, "it was a wholly unreasonable risk" for SYL not to find out the terms of the restriction before live streaming outside court.
  • Andrew Caldecott QC: Stephen Yaxley-Lennon's "whole objective [in going to the court in Leeds] was to get the defendants faces out there - and he knew that they were liable to arrive early at court." That, says the barrister, is why SYL ignored the risk of reporting restrictions.
  • "He took a punt. He wanted to say who they were, what charges they were facing - otherwise his live stream was... meaningless." Mr Caldecott argues that SYL didn't want to discover a reporting restriction existed - because that would stop his Facebook broadcast. #tommyrobinson
  • Andrew Caldecott QC has wrapped up for the Attorney General in the #tommyrobinson case. He concludes by saying that if cases are unduly disturbed, then public confidence in the rule of law can be undermined.
  • Hello again from the Old Bailey. Now hearing closing submissions from Richard Furlong who's representing Stephen Yaxley-Lennon in his contempt of court case. #TommyRobinson
  • Mr Furlong questions whether the reporting restriction order imposed at Leeds, that SYL is said to have broken, sought to prevent publication of facts about the grooming gang trial (names of defendants etc) that were already in the public domain.
  • Part of Mr Yaxley-Lennon's defence is that in his Facebook live stream, he was merely talking about what had already been reported by journalists whom, he says, were not reporting the case.
  • For instance, he read out details about the men and the allegations from a BBC report, published before the reporting restriction was imposed.
  • Richard Furlong for Yaxley-Lennon: The better approach to reporting restrictions is "to not seek to enforce impossible orders but accept that material is out there and put faith in the good sense of juries to ignore it."
  • He further agues that official judicial guidance states that a court order to postpone reporting of the facts of a trial can't also be used to prevent reporting of information that's already in the public domain. This is a key point of difference with the Attorney General.
  • Back in court for more from the contempt of court trial of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who in public goes by the name #TommyRobinson. His barrister, Richard Furlong is arguing that SYL had no reckless intent - he was trying to be careful in what he said in his Facebook live stream.
  • He shows the court passages of the Facebook transcript where SYL checks with his assistant. SYL believed, says Mr Furlong, that he was broadcasting within the law by only referring to information already in the public domain.
  • Here's one of the examples where SYL is talking to his filming assistant about what he is allowed to say without breaking reporting restrictions:
  • We're now onto the second element of the alleged contempt: That SYL / #tommyrobinson's live stream impeded justice - by interfering with the trial process.
  • The Attorney General argues that #TommyRobinson impeded justice by the manner in which he filmed the defendants (there was a confrontation) because that could have influenced the defendants on bail not to co-operate with the trial.
  • Richard Furlong for Mr Yaxley-Lennon says the question is whether the filming created a "substantial risk" that the trial would be seriously impeded. SYL's case is that his actions did not create that risk.
  • Furlong for SYL: "We say the allegations of harassing [the defendants] and indirectly creating a risk that they would abscond [because they would have been scared] are fanciful."
  • SYL dashed up to some of the defendants and said: "How are you feeling about your verdict, got your prison bag with you..?" And then the defendants started shouting back rather grim sexual insults. Richard Furlong for SYL says his client's questions were "fairly anodyne".
  • His point being that Stephen Yaxley-Lennon did not set out to intimidate or harass the defendants - and therefore there is no Contempt of Court on this second element of the case.
  • "He should not be judged by a different standard of behaviour because of who he is."
  • There was no threat or intimidation of the defendants, says Richard Furlong for Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.
  • Richard Furlong plays a clip of BBC reporter Lucy Manning interviewing Tommy Robinson as he arrived at the Old Bailey for a previous hearing in this saga. His point being that SYL, in throwing questions to the Leeds defendants, was doing no different to journalists.
  • His questions to the defendants were "by and large anodyne, by and large neutral", says Richard Furlong. He says Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was not provoking the defs, but is being judged for his political views and reputation as Tommy Robinson.
  • Richard Furlong has finished his submissions for Stephen Yaxley-Lennon. Short response from the AG's barrister (this is common procedure in cases) then, in theory, it's over to the judges to decide.
  • The judges in the Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson case have retired to consider the evidence.
  • Hello again from the Stephen Yaxley-Lennon / Tommy Robinson Contempt case at the Old Bailey. The judges are back in court.
  • BREAKING: Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson found in contempt of court.
  • Dame Victoria Sharp, President of the Queen's Bench Division: "The respondent's conduct amounted to a serious interference with the administration of justice."
  • Dame Victoria says Tommy Robinson committed contempt of court in three ways: 1) By breaching a reporting restriction at the Leeds sexual grooming case trial 2) His Facebook live was likely to impede justice 3) Aggressively confronting the defendants.
  • More detail for clarity: Dame Victoria said said the live stream outside Leeds Crown Court contained material that "gave rise to a serious risk that the course of justice would be seriously impeded." So while a jury were not being prejudiced, the trial might be derailed.
  • How so? We haven't seen the full reasons from her and Mr Justice Warby - but counsel for the Attorney General argued some of Yaxley-Lennon's actions effectively encouraged his followers to harass the defendants - (or what used to be called "mob rule").
  • And some of the defendants may have gone on the run - fearing confrontations with Tommy Robinson and his followers at the court.
  • Tommy Robinson Contempt of Court - here's one of the key clips from his Facebook live where he is said to have aggressively confronted defendants - judge for yourself:
  • Or as others say ... “we report, you decide”.
  • This is important from Lizzie: guilty men could have walked free.
  • [In reply to a tweet from Gerard Batten of UKIP] 
    As a trained professional journalist since 1995, from Grimsby Magistrates to the UK Supreme Court, I cannot remember committing Contempt of Court once, never mind “every day”
  • UPDATE [Reply to another tweet from Gerard Batten]
    At every hearing in this saga, journalists have been abused. People have been spat at, had cameras attacked. A cameraman was punched. Today it was beer can throwing. Lies have been told about us, our reports and events in court. So, it’s pretty obvious why the police were out.
  • Court security today insisted initially that reporters leave the Old Bailey by a safe alternative door because of the risk of violence @GerardBattenMEP or were they making it up?
  • Here are some of the cans thrown at the TV crews outside:
  • In October - one of the earlier Tommy Robinson hearings - there were bags of human excrement found in the street. Is that a normal crowd?
  • [Dom retweet Nazir Afzal]


  1. "As a trained professional journalist since 1995, from Grimsby Magistrates to the UK Supreme Court, I cannot remember committing Contempt of Court once, never mind “every day”."

    And as a trained professional journalist can't he tell the difference between a comment about the media in general and one about himself?

    Perhaps he has committed contempt of court but the authorities turned a blind eye, isn't that Batten's point?

    The Crown is putting an awful lot of effort into prosecuting a trifling offence, is there no 1600's legislation that could have him beheaded for loitering on the Queen's highway?

    One day Dominic they might come for you.

    1. Also, what does he think about his colleague Daniel Sandford's tweet setting out TR's criminal record in relation to this case (on the eve of a previous hearing)? Daniel Sandford deleted the tweet, suggesting he realised he had commited a contempt of court offence.

      Why isn't DC exercised about that?

      Selective Justice: a BBC speciality!