Supporters of Tommy Robinson, 36, threw bottles and smoke bombs during a mini-riot in Parliament Square on Thursday, 11 July, after he was jailed for nine months for contempt of court. Some 200 supporters launched an impromptu march to Parliament Square, where they shouted: “We want Tommy out.”
The protesters set fire to European Union flags, hurled bottles and smoke bombs at police officers in riot gear, who then retaliated with a baton charge. City of London Police said four people were arrested for affray and public order offences.
Robinson has been sent to Belmarsh prison in south-east London and has been given 19 weeks, in recognition of the time he has already spent in custody. He will serve only half of that - less than 10 weeks - in prison.
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was jailed after he filmed and confronted several Asian defendants outside Leeds Crown Court during a trial into the sexual exploitation of girls in Huddersfield.
The videos, which were viewed 3.4 million times, breached a reporting restriction and put in jeopardy child grooming trials involving 29 defendants.
Supporters of Robinson claimed on social media he was being jailed for doing what mainstream journalists do on a regular basis, but court reporters reacted on Twitter by pointing out the difference between reporting the evidence from a trial and commenting on it or confronting defendants.
— Press Gazette (@pressgazette) 12 July 2019
Robinson, who has been banned from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, took to an account on Telegram to claim: “Sentenced to prison for journalism. Time for protests to start, this is an absolute joke. Protest outside whatever prison I’m in on Saturday please.”
— Dale Hurd (@DaleHurd) 11 July 2019
"Hopefully by this Saturday, I’m laying there in my cell and I can just hear all your voices outside whichever s***hole HMP I’m in. 'Just want to say to everyone I appreciate whilst I'm in there I know people will be fighting for me. But I'll be fine in there,” Robinson added.
— Wags (@jwags718) 11 July 2019
Most prisoners convicted at the Old Bailey are sent to Belmarsh before being transferred to other prisons to serve their sentences.
The former leader of UKIOP, Gerard Batten, said the verdict was an "absolute disgrace."
— Gerard Batten (@GerardBattenMEP) 11 July 2019
Mr Batten said: "I cannot believe I'm here in my own country, under a legal system that is one of the best in the world, in a free democratic country...where we have been reduced to this because of the establishment's fear and submission to fundamentalist Islam. And that they will victimise one of their own people in order to submit to it.