Activist Tommy Robinson freed from jail after winning appeal

British anti-Islamist activist released from 13-month sentence after appeals verdict finds initial ruling to be 'fundamentally flawed.'

Tal Polon,

Pro-Tommy Robinson demonstrators in London
Pro-Tommy Robinson demonstrators in London

British anti-Islamist activist Tommy Robinson was freed from prison Wednesday, after the court of appeal ordered a retrial of a contempt of court charge.

Robinson had been reporting in June outside a Leeds courtroom on a rape-gang trial involving several Muslim defendants when he was arrested by police, who claimed he was disturbing the peace. Within the next five hours, he was tried, convicted of contempt of court, sentenced to 13 months in prison, and jailed.

The abrupt conviction and arrest led to massive protest from Robinson’s supporters, who claimed that the ruling was biased against Robinson due to his activism against radical Islam in England, and that Robinson's life was in danger due to the large Muslim population at the prison where he was held.

On Wednesday, the appeals court, headed by Chief Justice of England and Wales Lord Burnett of Maldon, blasted the “fundamentally flawed process" of the initial ruling, and ordered a retrial with a different judge.

“The decision at Leeds crown court to proceed to committal to prison so promptly and without due regard for [part] of the rules gave rise to unfairness,” the ruling said.

“The judge might have referred the matter to the attorney general to consider whether to institute proceedings. That course would have avoided the risk of sacrificing fairness on the altar of celerity.”

Gregg Roman, Director of the Middle East Forum, which was active in efforts for Robinson’s release from prison, praised the court decision as a victory for free speech.

“This is a win not just for Tommy Robinson, but for all those in the United Kingdom who publicly discuss Islam and related matters – including Islamism, jihad, and Islamic ‘charities.’ The UK authorities tried to shut down an important debate. They lost. The people won.”