U.K. right-wing activist and journalist Tommy Robinson was arrested and reportedly jailed Friday after he filmed members of an alleged child grooming gang entering a court for trial — but the details of his purported sentence remain murky after the judge ordered the press not to report on the case.
Robinson, the former head of the English Defense League and a longtime activist against Islam and Islamic migration, was arrested after he was filming men accused of being part of a gang that groomed children. Britain has been rocked by a series of child sex scandals perpetuated by gangs of predominantly Muslim men.
Video shows Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Lennon, being surrounded by as many as seven police officers as he livestreamed the incident on his phone. The police informed him he was being arrested for “breach of the peace.”
Tommy Robinson has been arrested in Leeds court for reporting on grooming gangs. More updates to follow pic.twitter.com/iEPDoNOKHM
— Caolan Robertson (@CaolanRob) May 25, 2018
But shortly after his arrest, a source with knowledge of the case told Fox News that he had been jailed for 13 months on a contempt-of-court charge.
A court listing indicated the case was “closed” by Friday afternoon.
One source said he was jailed in Hull Prison. The prison declined to comment to Fox News on whether Robinson was there. Leeds Crown Court also did not return a request for information.
According to The Independent, Robinson was already on a suspended sentence for contempt of court over a gang rape case in 2017.
The judge in the case on Friday slapped a reporting ban on the case. The order bans reporters from reporting on a case if there is reason to believe the reporting could prejudice a trial. The order prevents reporting until the conclusion of the trial Robinson was reporting on.
The gag order led to news outlets in the U.K. removing their reporting from their websites to comply with the order. Most remaining reporting in the U.K. comments on Robinson’s arrest, but not on his purported sentencing.
Sources with knowledge of Robinson’s case spoke on condition of anonymity in part because of fear they would be arrested for contempt. One told Fox that Robinson’s lawyer warned that, considering the presence of Muslim gang members in prison, a 13-month sentence was tantamount to a death sentence.
“Tommy’s lawyer said he will likely die in jail given his profile and previous credible threats, and the judge basically said he doesn’t care,” the source said. “He sentenced him to 13 months in prison.”
Reaction to Robinson’s sentencing from commentators and right-wing politicians was fierce, particularly as it is the latest in a series of commentators — particularly those who are critical of Islam and mass Islamic migration into the U.K. — being locked up by British authorities.
I am hearing reports that Tommy Robinson has been arrested for ‘a breach of the peace’ while live-streaming a report on a grooming gang (sex slave) trial at Leeds Crown Court. Further reports say he has received a custodial sentence. What kind of Police state have we become?
— Gerard Batten MEP (@GerardBattenMEP) May 25, 2018Loading...
“What kind of police state have we become?” tweeted U.K. Independence Party leader and European MP Gerard Batten.
“I am trying to recall a legal case where someone was convicted of a ‘crime’ which cannot be reported on,” he added. “Where he can be cast into prison without it being possible to report his name, offence, or place of imprisonment for fear of contempt of court.”
“Arrested for “breaching the peace” while reporting on a Islamic grooming gang trial?” Dutch MP Geert Wilders tweeted. “Is this Saudi-Arabia?” Wilders also submitted parliamentary questions to the Dutch minister of foreign affairs on the matter.
In the U.S., actress Roseanne Barr, star of the ABC revival of the sitcom “Roseanne,” retweeted a number of supportive messages for Robinson, and tweeted out her own outrage.
— Nick Scanlon (@NickScan92) May 26, 2018
Robinson has long been a polarizing figure in the U.K., with supporters saying that he speaks out against political correctness and the growing influence of Islamic extremism, while opponents claim he is a racist who stokes fear and division. A counter-terror police official said Robinson’s material was partially responsible for the radicalization of a man who committed a terrorist attack on a mosque last year.
Robinson upset former CNN host Piers Morgan by brandishing a Koran and claiming it cites “murder and violence against us” in an appearance on “Good Morning Britain.”
“Put that book down and show some damn respect for peoples’ religious beliefs,” Morgan said. On Saturday, supporters of Robinson protested outside the gates of 10 Downing Street.
Robinson is the latest right-wing figure to fall foul of the authorities. Canadian right-wing activist and journalist Lauren Southern was turned away from the U.K. in March shortly after she had made a video in Luton, an English town with a relatively high Muslim population, and put out a stall declaring: “Allah is gay” as an experiment to see what the reaction would be.
Also in March, “Generation Identity” activists Martin Sellner and Brittany Pettibone, were refused entry to the U.K. after being judged that their presence was also “not conducive to the public good.”
U.S. radio talk show host Michael Savage and blogger Pamela Geller, both of whom have been outspoken in their criticisms of Islamic extremism, have also been banned from entering the U.K.
Even President Trump has faced calls from politicians to be banned from the U.K. — in particular over his views on immigration and his controversial travel ban. Trump will visit the U.K. in July, where he is expected to be met by protests.