I've just come off of two days holed up in London's Old Bailey. The famous court was once a beacon of justice, though you wouldn't know it from what happened there to Tommy Robinson.
Robinson stood trial last week for the purported offence of filming sex groomers and gang rapists on their way into a Leeds courthouse last spring. During a 90-minute Facebook Live stream, he broadcast their arrivals and asked them how they felt about the forthcoming verdicts. Several responded with lewd comments about Robinson's wife and mother.
Nevertheless, Dame Victoria Sharp, president of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, ruled that Robinson was causing them anxiety and distress, thereby interfering with justice and putting him in contempt of court.
He was also found guilty of filming in a manner "likely to impede justice," though it had no such effect, and violating a reporting restriction on the proceedings â€“ despite not being in the proceedings to report on them, and also despite a court officer's admission that staff "failed" to post warnings of a publication ban in three required places, which Robinson and his team had checked beforehand.
The information Robinson shared about the defendants during his live stream came from prior news reports that are, to this day, accessible online. The Judicial College's official guidelines on reporting restrictions say these orders cannot bar discussion of matters already in public domain. However, the barrister appointed by Her Majesty's government to prosecute Robinson argued the law itself says something different.
Even if that were true, which isn't clear, how is one to know they're to do the opposite of what's laid out in the document published by the government for the express purpose of directing those reporting and commenting on trials, as Robinson was? Unless, that is, one accepts a basic incompetence in the English judiciary, which isn't that far-fetched, come to think of it.
The finding of guilt was a fitting end to what was always a politically motivated show trial. Last week's hearing was ordered by Theresa May's attorney general after Robinson's previous conviction, for which he served 10 weeks of a 13 month prison sentence, was unanimously overturned by an appeals court.
Robinson had been arrested, tried, convicted, sentenced and jailed within a matter of five hours. I'm not even sure North Korea is so efficient. It just goes to show how the establishment is far more concerned with what you think than what you do.
The sex grooming gangsters Robinson filmed had been operating in Huddersfield with relative impunity for years, as countless others have in Rotherham, Rochdale, Bradford, and as many as 70 more English communities.
These cases were not simply flying under the radar of the state and the mainstream media, but operating in plain view, being met with politically correct silence and wilful ignorance.
Robinson threatened the establishment's indifference, and has been its enemy ever since.
In doing so, he's proven that if they want to get you, they'll get you on something. It's worth noting that he's far from being a perfect hero. There are chapters in his past for which he's legitimately had to answer, though the media's criticisms have been solely about delegitimizing him rather than any noble pursuit of the truth.
He's had milkshakes dumped on him. He faces threats of violence from Pakistani Muslims in his own hometown. And he's been subject to numerous police visits over the years. But it's contempt of court, which is supposed to be an administrative charge but has been treated as a criminal matter with him, that strings him up.
Adding insult to injury, Robinson's bus, stationed outside the Old Bailey during the trial alongside the lawful rally of his supporters, was given a parking ticket. After slapping the ticket on the bus window, the beta male meter maid walked towards the bank of press cameras cackling and bragging, "Oh, I do love my jobs sometimes."
Four Weddings and a Funeral? That was so 1994. Meet Three Contempt Charges and a Parking Ticket.
Being a bigoted, racist Islamophobe, as the media continuously (and falsely) charges, isn't illegal. But parking a bus on a London street sure is, so let's go with that.
It brings to mind the notorious jailing of Al Capone for tax evasion, which is far more insidious than the charming way it's spoken of would suggest. Even so, Capone was actually guilty of the serious things the government couldn't make the case on. Robinson isn't. The state created a crime to suit its pre-selected defendant.
All the official voices you'd hope would pipe up in his defence have been silent. The 10 weeks he served in prison were predominantly in solitary, with him unable to eat because of threats he was getting from Muslim inmates working in the kitchen.
A Somali warlord who served a day of Robinson's sentence would have had Amnesty International beating down the door of 10 Downing St.
He believed the wrong things and angered the wrong people. In 2019 Britain, that's apparently a crime.
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