Discussing the right-wing activist’s prison term during ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s LBS radio show on Sunday, former senior adviser to US President Donald Trump Stephen Bannon called for his release.
“I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I think he’s a solid guy and I think he’s got to be released from prison,” Trump’s ex-chief strategist said.
LBC’s political editor Theo Usherwood then repeatedly interrupted Bannon, saying that Robinson “broke the law.”
“A lot of people would say that that law is too restrictive,” Bannon responded, adding that the details of Robinson’s offense were “highly technical.” He further asked Usherwood: “Are you a news guy? You’ve got to go a lot better.”
The editor then answered, “I’m calling you out on something,” but Farage interfered, ending the spat by supporting Usherwood’s stance: “I take the view as well that Tommy broke the law.”
After the show Usherwood tweeted that Bannon had unleashed his fury at him once they were off-air.
Bannon to me off-air: "Fuck you. Don't you fucking say you're calling me out. You fucking liberal elite. Tommy Robinson is the backbone of this country."— Theo Usherwood (@theousherwood) 15 июля 2018 г.
Usherwood was later slammed by former UKIP chief adviser and Breitbart London editor Raheem Kassam, who also was in the studio, and accused him of tweeting “off the record conversations.”
LBC’s @theousherwood introduced himself to Bannon before the interview as the “neutral” political editor of the station. He then proceeded to attack him both on and off air, and then tweet a private conversation. @Ofcom— Raheem (@RaheemKassam) 15 июля 2018 г.
Yeah, he owned you live on air and then you tweeted off the record conversations. https://t.co/DPZD3DKZe4— Raheem (@RaheemKassam) 15 июля 2018 г.
The LBC’s journalist rushed to deny the accusations, striking back at Kassam on Twitter:
For the record, nothing was agreed beforehand. At the end of the interview, the mics went down, Steve put his headphones on the desk, stood up and made his feelings known.— Theo Usherwood (@theousherwood) 15 июля 2018 г.
If he wanted the conversation to be off-the-record, he should have said. https://t.co/4NzMR2rZB3
Bannon’s statements calling for Robinson’s release came shortly after Reuters reported that Trump’s Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback had warned that the current US administration might publicly criticize the British government over its handling of the case if the UK didn’t treat the EDL founder more “sympathetically.”
This is the moment Steve Bannon called Tommy Robinson "the backbone of this country" after his interview with Nigel Farage. https://t.co/MfdVJThFjS— LBC (@LBC) 16 июля 2018 г.
In late May, Tommy Robinson was accused of breaching the peace, while recording a Facebook live video outside a court in Leeds, where a closed criminal trial was being held. Later the same day, he admitted to the contempt of court charge and was sentenced to 13 months in jail.
He was already on a suspended sentence, which made the judge activate a three-month term for a previous offense and add 10 months for the new one. Robinson is expected to appeal his sentence on July 18, but will not ask to review his conviction for contempt of court.