by Chauncey Tinker – 30 May 2018
NB. Please note that I make no reference to the currently ongoing court case as there are reporting restrictions on that, I refer only to the court case that led to the suspended sentence last year, to Tommy’s arrest, and to other closed cases. Please also refrain from commenting on the ongoing case in the comments below.
Justice must be seen to be done, it is in the public interest that the progress of court cases is known. This becomes all the more important in a period where for so long grooming gang crimes have been willfully ignored by the authorities. The mainstream media have also failed for a long time to give these cases the amount of publicity they deserve, often they have actually failed to give these shocking cases any publicity at all. Of course it was to be expected that ordinary people would eventually start to get agitated about the failures of the authorities and the media in these cases. If justice is not seen to be done then the law will be held in contempt, it is to be expected.
Leeds Live (who incidentally deserve some credit for getting the reporting restrictions lifted), reported on Tommy’s arrest and attempted to explain why he was arrested under the current law. Quote from their article:
Robinson was arrested after filming himself via Facebook Live outside the court.
Offences like his can cause a trial to collapse, as the jury may be deemed unable to deliver a fair verdict – at great cost to the court (and therefore the British taxpayer).
Why may the jury be “deemed unable to deliver a fair verdict” just because a member of the public was outside the court room live streaming? Were the jury even able to hear what Tommy was saying on his live stream? Why is “filming himself via Facebook Live outside the court” an offence? This explains nothing.
Of course we want people to have a fair trial, but attempting to silence all those who might influence the proceedings of a trial is for one thing now wildly impractical in the internet age, where commentators even in other countries frequently express opinions that are just as likely to influence proceedings as opinions expressed domestically. Frequently commentators get details of the cases wrong, and frequently they misinterpret UK law, it is absolutely to be expected that they will. We should be able to rely on jurors to have the sense to ignore them, and they are and should always be instructed to ignore such opinions, rumour, and gossip that will inevitably be expressed outside the court room. Jury members must be of sound mind, it is one of the qualifications for selection.
Reading through the sentencing remarks at the proceedings that led to Tommy receiving a suspended sentence in the first place, I conclude that if I had been in Tommy’s shoes I would not have been left with a sufficiently clear impression about what the judge was objecting to. Multiple points were made and some of the points that were made were inappropriate in my view, other points that seem to me more important were not emphasized very well. This is an account of the judge’s judgement in the case dated 22nd May 2017:
JUDGE’S RULING AND SENTENCING REMARKS
It seems the judge had an issue with the reference to the defendants’ religion. Despite making this point, she insists that her decision had nothing to do with freedom of speech or political correctness. I suggest that this remark was irrelevant and likely to cause Tommy to think she was attempting to suppress this aspect of the case. I will come back to that particular aspect in a moment.
We see that one of the judge’s concerns had been that Tommy was attempting to film the defendants outside the court room (both outside and in the court building however), but she admitted that:
there was no filming or attempt to film inside a courtroom
She makes the point that there are notices “all over” the building, but what is the restriction on filming the defendants exactly? Are people allowed to film defendants inside the court building at all or not? I don’t think she makes this clear enough though she speaks at length about it. She should have simply said it is illegal to film inside the court building if that is the rule. As for filming outside the court building, she makes a reference to “the building and the precincts”, but what exactly constitutes “the precincts”? Is this a clear statement?:
It seems to me, therefore, that on a reading of section 41 that you have committed an offence under that section. But, whether you have or have not, and even if I am wrong that you have, there are the wider summary powers of the court to deal with contempts which are in the face of the court as that has been defined in its wider sense.
The judge was concerned that Tommy was getting too close to jurors and expressing opinions that could have influenced their decision, this is a cause for serious consideration. However, she makes the point that the jury were diverted from their normal course of entering and leaving the building. So, the court officials did their job then, and kept the jurors away from Tommy.
Unfortunately there is no reference in this judgement to what could possibly be a factor in this case with respect to reporting restrictions, namely that one of the 4 defendants in the case was believed to be under 18 at the time of the offence. I mention this only because it has been mentioned elsewhere in the media. Note also that there was some confusion about the age of this defendant as well. This defendant was only named in the local press after the sentencing in that case had completed. Here is a news report dated 26 May 2017:
Four men have been found GUILTY of gang raping a 16 year old girl above a takeaway
Shershah Muslimyar, 20, of Hovenden Close, Canterbury, Rafiullah Hamidy, 24, of no fixed abode, and Hamid Mohamadi, 18, from Wye, who we can now name for the first time, denied the offences but were found guilty of three counts of rape.
Today (May 26), Judge Heather Norton lifted the section 45 reporting restrictions on Hamid Mohamadi, the youngest defendant who was previously thought to be 16 but is now believed to be 18.
Incidentally I’m sure many readers will remember that the UK authorities recently admitted a batch of “child” migrants, some of them later turned out to be in their 20s.
While we can argue about the legitimacy of Tommy’s filming activities in the light of the fact that one of the defendants may have been believed to be under 18, the fact that the judge failed to even mention this at all in her summing up must I think be taken into consideration when looking at subsequent events.
If we were in Tommy’s shoes at this point then, what would we be concluding had been our main error? I think from reading through the above ruling and sentencing remarks, that we would conclude that the judge was primarily concerned about our reference to the defendants’ (alleged) religion, and with our attempts to film defendants in general regardless of their age. Are either of these 2 points legitimate concerns? Let us next compare this with what has happened in other cases.
Let’s compare this with what happened when the police went to Cliff Richard’s house to search for evidence of historical sex abuse. Note that Cliff Richard was never even charged with an offence. Quote from the BBC’s own article on the incident:
Lawyers for Sir Cliff Richard have told the High Court the BBC’s coverage of a police raid on the singer’s home was a “very serious invasion” of his privacy.
A helicopter was used in the report to show officers searching the 77-year-old star’s Berkshire apartment after a claim of historical sexual assault.
The BBC says its coverage in August 2014 was in the public interest.
So, how is it in the public interest for the progress of justice in one case of merely alleged sexual abuse to be broadcast nationwide even before an arrest, but yet it is deemed not in the public interest to broadcast events in a case of gang rape where arrests have already been made and the case has proceeded to trial? In both cases the media are exposing the identity of the suspect(s), surely in the Cliff Richard case it’s even worse to do so, because he hasn’t even been charged with an offence yet.
I understand the sub judice rule is supposed to start when an arrest has been made and continue until the verdict is given, but I really question why that should be the case. The reporting that goes on immediately before a trial begins must surely be considered just as likely to influence proceedings as reporting that goes on while the trial is in progress, perhaps even more so because it may be the earlier reporting may be seen by people who are later selected as jurors before they are warned not to read media reports.
In other cases we have seen the mainstream media voicing opinions about the nature of a crime, particularly in cases that they deem to be motivated by “hate”. Take for example this article in the Guardian:
The killing of a Polish man exposes the reality of post-referendum racism
This above highly political article was published in September 2016 a few days before the sentence was announced. Quote from the above article:
Arkadiusz Jóźwik died after an attack in Harlow. The government must not allow xenophobes to set the tone since the Brexit vote
Clearly the article is speculating about the motive being xenophobia even though they pretend otherwise with a feeble “disclaimer” in the article.
A few days later an article at the BBC reported on the sentencing in this case. Quote:
“The deceased and his companion, according to the witnesses called by the prosecution, were staggering from drink,” said Mr Upward.
“They made racist remarks to the youngsters, then invited violence from them, and they were considerably bigger and stronger than the young people.”
Taking a look back again at the proceedings that led to Tommy receiving a suspended sentence in the first place, we see that the judge said that Tommy had, while the trial of those individuals was still ongoing, referred to:
“Muslim paedophiles, Muslim rapists”
It has been widely noticed that the defendants in these cases tend to be non-white Muslims, and the victims tend to be white non-Muslims. Of course this raises the suspicion that there is a racial or cultural motivation of some kind. Of course it’s not up to Tommy to decide who is guilty before the verdict is reached, but that is not the issue here, the issue is whether we can reasonably expect that Tommy’s views on the matter will influence the trial in any way.
One of the factors that is inflaming tensions in these cases is the hate crime legislation, that is often applied in a grossly inconsistent manner. The issue of this unfairness has even been raised by the Solicitor General, according to this article from the Independent:
Solicitor General calls for longer sentences for grooming gangs who target white girls
I disagree with the view that these cases should get longer sentences than other similar cases because I think that a rape is equally bad whether it is committed by a white Anglican priest, a children’s TV program presenter at the BBC, a Muslim, or anybody else. I don’t think those rapes that are deemed to be “hate crimes” should lead to longer sentences, I think all the similar cases should lead to long sentences. In one particular case in Telford, the leader of a grooming gang is already out of prison. From the Independent:
MP slams decision to ‘release former child sex gang ringleader Mubarek Ali 17 years early’
A complaint regarding short sentences in these cases has also been voiced in this petition that has 216,079 signatures at the time of writing:
Stop Evil Rape Gangs getting such short sentences and help me get Justice for Survivors
The problem here is that those crimes not deemed as “hate crimes” are getting ridiculously shorter sentences than other similar crimes just as serious. We need to abolish this divisive hate crime legislation altogether and ensure that all those convicted of similarly serious crimes get suitably similarly long sentences. If the government were to address this then they would find that there would be less public anger surrounding these grooming gang crimes in general in the first place. Hate crime legislation has led to extremely divisive sentencing and is fueling the rise of identity politics in the UK today. Apologies for repeating myself, but hate crime legislation needs to be abolished, totally.
The last few days have shown starkly just how urgently we need to reform the laws restricting the reporting of court cases as well. These laws must be severely limited, I would suggest probably to the point of only limiting what goes on inside the court room, or what can be heard inside the court room. It should be up to the court officials to ensure that jurors are not approached when entering and leaving the court room. Perhaps there should be a secret exit where the press are not allowed and a windowless van takes them home.
The sub judice rule is often ignored blatantly by the press, usually on one side of the political argument. Quite a few cases such as the one I mentioned above have been portrayed by the media as “hate crimes” before any substantial evidence to that effect was available. I really question whether the sub judice rule is reasonable in general, I think a good case could be made for abolishing it.
The rise of social media has blurred the line between what constitutes the press and what does not to such an extent that it is no longer enforceable anyway, due to the numbers of people commenting on court cases. I would argue in fact that it is normal and healthy in a free and fair society for people to discuss court cases – it is the duty of the jury to ignore what goes on outside the court room, that should be the emphasis.
Of course some people are going to say “there’s no smoke without fire” and so on, but this risk has to be weighed against the very serious need to see justice done. When defendants are acquitted this must be given at least as much publicity to try to correct the damage done to those people’s reputation.
The opposite problem where the press simply fails to report on crimes of a certain kind at all is just as much a problem as it may lead to complacency on the part of the authorities in the need to prosecute these crimes. The toxic culture of so-called “political correctness” is thus having multiple bad effects on the justice system in the UK today.
Invasions of privacy and harassment should be dealt with in general laws that are not specific to defendants in court cases, and as far as I understand it that is already the case anyway.
Quite a few people, even some who objected to the arrest, have somehow been feeling it necessary to express how much they loathe and despise Tommy Robinson at this point. Some have made a lot of the fact that he was declaring the guilt of the defendants before the verdict was in at the earlier trial. What I think these people are missing is what is motivating Tommy to make these kinds of videos. Tommy is desperately trying to bring certain realities to the public’s attention in the face of a blanket refusal by the mainstream media and the vast majority of our politicians to acknowledge them.
He believes that religion is a significant factor in many of these cases, and I think he is right about that. The Koran legitimizes the taking of female sex slaves. Islam condones sex with underage girls since Mohammed (the role model for Muslims) “married” a six year old and consummated the marriage when she was nine. We would call that child rape, or at least we used to call it child rape before large numbers of Muslims were invited into the West. The Koran also describes infidels as the “vilest of animals”. Put all this together and you have a religion that is legitimizing the behaviour of these grooming gangs. We need to talk about this, Tommy is one of the very few people who is daring to do that publicly. I think he deserves great respect for doing that, even if at times his methods may be a little bit clumsy.
This is what activists do, they stage protests, they make a fuss and then people start talking about the issues they are raising. Tommy is raising a lot of issues and now these issues are centre stage because the media is talking about them, that’s what we’re doing here.
Mass immigration has brought serious cultural incompatibilities to our society. Instead of talking about this as we should be doing, the government is trying to criminalize the people who are trying to talk about it. This has to stop, we need to allow people to speak freely about these cultural incompatibilities otherwise divisions in society will continue to grow.
There are problems with the justice system that urgently need to be addressed. In particular, the hate crime legislation is extremely divisive and needs to be abolished immediately. Laws around talking about court cases should be relaxed, let people debate freely about the progress of justice and let justice be seen to be done. Jury members should be of sound mind and the jury should be expected to ignore public opinion while the trial is in progress.
If it is in the public interest in high profile cases for the identities of defendants to be known, then it is also in the public interest for the identities of the defendants to be known in other cases as well. The religion of the defendants is also relevant for all the reasons that I gave above, those reasons that Tommy Robinson is trying so hard to bring to the public’s attention.
I therefore call for Tommy Robinson to be released. If you agree then please sign the petition:
Free Tommy Robinson
Kirsty Wark’s Cathy Newman Moment
From the Daily Mail, another account of the first case and Tommy’s suspended sentence:
Laughing Afghan refugees are guilty of gang-raping girl, 16, in flat above kebab shop after she stopped to ask for directions
From the Spectator:
A dangerous silence over Telford
Tommy Robinson is no free-speech martyr
What do you think? Please leave a comment below.