Tommy Robinson pictured leaving prison after winning appeal over contempt of court sentence

The English Defence League founder (EDL) hugged friends before he was led from Onley Prison by a friend this afternoon.

Giving only a brief statement, Robinson said: "I want to thank the British public for all their support." He then sped away from the scene in a waiting car.

On the Free Tommy Robinson Facebook page a post said he was "over the moon" about the ruling and will be going on holiday with his family.

The Facebook post said: "Tommy just called his family from prison to ask what the outcome was – he said prisoners were shouting that he was going home but he did not want to believe them. He is over the moon."

Robinson was sentenced to 13 months in prison earlier this year after broadcasting footage of trial defendants on social media.

But the 35-year-old, who did not appear for today's hearing, is a free man again after the Court of Appeal ruled there were technical flaws in the ruling of the judge who jailed him.

The original judge was found to have "rushed" Robinson’s trial and as a result the court did not hear which parts of his offending footage was problematic.

This meant that he could not defend himself properly, the Court of Appeal heard.

The three top judges presiding over the case added that as a result of the "muddled" hearing Robinson was treated with "unfairness".

The allegations against Robinson will be reheard at The Old Bailey later this year – possibly as early as September.

Announcing the decision to free Robinson, Lord Burnett told the court: "The appellant is granted bail and the matter of contempt at Leeds Crown Court is remitted to be heard again."

Robinson supporters wearing 'Free Tommy' t-shirts cheered and burst into tears outside the Court of Appeal today, after months of campaigning for his release.

Judges were urged to overturn the original findings against the far-right activist, whose real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon.

There were also mass protests against his sentence, with scenes turning ugly on the streets of London as campaigners called for Robinson to be freed.

Robinson's cause has also enraged the right in the U.S, a country which does not have contempt laws, who claimed the convictions violated his freedom of speech.

At a hearing in July, his QC Jeremy Dein argued that procedural "deficiencies" had given rise to "prejudice".

Mr Dein also submitted that "insufficient" regard had been given to Robinson's personal mitigation – factors which could reduce a sentence, like an early guilty plea – and as a result his sentence was "manifestly excessive".

Robinson's footage was watched 250,000 times within hours of being posted on Facebook.


He was detained outside Leeds Crown Court after using social media to broadcast details of a trial which is subject to blanket reporting restrictions.

Robinson was given 10 months for contempt of court, which he admitted, and a further three months for breaching a previous suspended sentence.

Jailing him, Judge Geoffrey Marson told Robinson that it was a "serious aggravating feature" that he was encouraging others to share it and it had been shared widely.

He added: "Everyone understands the right to freedom of speech but there are responsibilities and obligations.

"I am not sure you appreciate the potential consequence of what you have done. People have to understand that if they breach court orders there will be very real consequences."

It was the second time Robinson had breached court orders, having narrowly avoided jail in May last year over footage he filmed during the trial of four men who were later convicted of gang-raping a teenage girl.

CONTEMPT DEFINED: What is contempt of court and why can you be jailed for it?

In the UK, a person can be found in contempt of court if they wilfully defy a court order.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service, the main types of the offence can be physically interfering in a trial, threatening witnesses or obstructing justice.

Showing disrespect to a judge can also be contempt of the court.

If someone is in contempt of the Magistrates' Court, a person can be imprisoned for one month or face a fine of up to £2,500.

But for those in contempt of a crown court, they can be jailed for up to two years or face a fine.

In the UK, media can only report the facts of a case.

In the US, contempt of court is generally not considered to be a criminal offence.

Due to the First Amendment, the media outlet cannot be found in contempt of court.

The judge on that occasion gave him a three-month suspended sentence and told him his punishment was not about "freedom of speech or freedom of the press" but about "justice and ensuring that a trial can be carried out justly and fairly".

Mr Dein argued during the recent appeal proceedings that the findings of contempt of court on each occasion should be quashed as a "conglomeration of procedural deficiencies" had given rise to prejudice.

The QC said the proceedings in Leeds had been "unnecessarily and unjustifiably rushed".

He told the judges: "We maintain it is of particular importance that right from the outset the appellant, albeit in a very stressful and difficult situation, offered to have the live stream taken down and contact people who could do so."

There had been no intention to disrupt the trial or to breach any order, Mr Dein said.

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