Far-right march cancelled because police busy with Ed Sheeran concert

‘Free Tommy Robinson’ march is abandoned because stretched police also have to cover Ed Sheeran concert

  • Far-right EDL founder was jailed on May 4 after admitting contempt of court
  • The Northeast Frontline Patriots were forced to cancel the Newcastle protest
  • It fell on the same day as an Ed Sheeran concert at St James’ Park Stadium, as well as The Blaydon Race

Tommy Robinson, 35, was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court

A ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ march through the streets of Newcastle has been abandoned after police told far-right protesters they were ‘too busy protecting an Ed Sheeran concert’.

The far-right English Defence League founder was jailed on May for 13 months after pleading guilty to contempt of court.

And Saturday’s march had been planned by a group called Northeast Frontline Patriots in protest at Robinson’s sentence.

But organisers agreed to cancel the event after police revealed their resources were already stretched by an Ed Sheeran concert at St James’ Park Stadium, as well as The Blaydon Race the same day.

Police said they were ‘pleased’ the right-wing activists had listened to their ‘concerns’.

A spokesperson for Northumbria Police told Chronicle Live: ‘The organisers of two protests planned for Newcastle on Saturday have, following consultation with police, decided not to go ahead with the events.

‘While Northumbria Police will always facilitate peaceful protests, and would of course have policed these events if they went ahead, we are pleased organisers have listened to our concerns.

The far-right march was cancelled after police admitted they were ‘stretched’ due to an Ed Sheeran concert at St James’ Park Stadium. Pictured: Ed Sheeran in December last year

‘These concerns centred around an already-anticipated higher number of visitors than normal in the city centre due to existing long-standing events, including a large stadium concert and The Blaydon Road Race and the challenges these present in terms of public safety.’

Robinson, 35, was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting on Facebook Live outside Leeds Crown Court — putting the major trial at risk of collapse.

A court heard how Robinson had filmed himself and people involved in the case, in footage that was watched around 250,000 times within hours of being posted.

Robinson, who was listed by his real name Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon on court documents, was sentenced to 13 months in jail on the same day as his arrest.

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He was given 10 months in jail for contempt of court, and an additional three months for beaching a previous suspended sentence.

Judge Geoffrey Marson QC told Robinson at the time: ‘Everyone understands the right to freedom of speech but there are responsibilities and obligations.’

A reporting restriction had initially prevented the media from reporting his conviction, but this was lifted at the same court on Tuesday.

The Judge said: ‘If the jurors in my present trial get to know of this video I will no doubt be faced with an application to discharge the jury. 

Hundreds of Tommy Robinson’s supporters gathered outside Leeds Crown Court last Friday to protest the former EDL leader’s jail sentence

The march saw Robinson’s supporters brand police officers a ‘disgrace’, as chants of ‘you ought to be ashamed of yourselves’ broke out 

‘If I have to do that it will mean a re-trial, costing hundreds and hundreds and thousands of pounds.’

The judge added: ‘This contempt hearing is not about free speech. This is not about the freedom of the press.

‘This is not about legitimate journalism, this is not about political correctness, this is not about whether one political viewpoint is right or another. It is about justice and it is about ensuring that a trial can be carried out justly and fairly. 

During the demonstration, hoards of people were seen waving flags bearing the St George’s Cross and handmade placards voicing support for Robinson

‘It is about ensuring that a jury are not in any way inhibited from carrying out their important function.’

It comes after around 500 protesters chanted ‘let Tommy out’ outside Leeds Crown Court on Friday.

The event was organised by the group Proud British, which claims on Facebook that its purpose is to ‘voice freedom of speech’ and ‘stop the strain on the NHS, schools and our public services’.

Protesters also called on members of the press to publish details of the case that Robinson, of Bedfordshire, had been filming, in line with ‘the principle of open justice’. 

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