What Tommy Robinson and Mikhail Khodorkovsky have in common

The Secret Barrister gives what I assume is an accurate legal perspective on the arrest and imprisonment of Tommy Robinson. Here’s his third paragraph:

While, as we’ll see below, the reasons for the postponement order appear sound, the consequence of preventing fair and accurate reporting by responsible journalists was that there was no factual counterpoint to the selective and inaccurate details of Yaxley-Lennon’s situation that were inevitably flooded through social media by his knuckle-dragging cheerleaders, not least his racists-in-arms across the pond. Thus sprung a (largely unchallenged and unchallengeable) narrative of Tommy The Brave being arrested outside court for no reason and imprisoned in secret by the deep state, culminating in petitions for his release and a Nazi-themed march on Downing Street.

One needn’t read any further to understand the purpose of The Secret Barrister’s post is not only to inform readers as to the legal situation, but to make sure everyone knows that he is a decent, right-thinker, and not some nasty oik like those who support Tommy Robinson. He would have been able to make the same legal points without prefacing them with a paragraph of virtue-signalling, but why waste an opportunity to polish your right-thinking credentials and further cement your position in polite society? Besides, if you’re going to write about Tommy Robinson and not criticise him, people might think you’re on his side and that would never do. Better to include some boilerplate progressive buzzwords as a shield against such accusations.

There’s a lot of this going on, and from some unexpected sources too. Personally I don’t know if Tommy Robinson broke the law, but from what the experts are saying it seems he did and he was either stupid or trying to martyr himself. But as I wrote in my previous post, that is largely beside the point. I could open up any news site right now and point to flagrant breaches of the law which go unpunished by the authorities (here’s one), because it’s either too much trouble or the perpetrators are members of a protected class. On the flip side of the same coin I could also find examples of people who haven’t done much wrong but nevertheless are clobbered by the authorities: I understand that Lauren Southern, a Canadian right-wing provocateuse who looks as though she weighs 50kg soaking wet, is banned for life from entering the UK.

When the ruling classes want to dispose of someone inconvenient, they don’t just shoot them and dump their body in a well. There has to be some semblance of a justice system being applied; even Stalin’s high-ranking victims were subject to show trials. Now I don’t think Tommy Robinson is a victim of a Stalinist show trial, but it serves as a reminder that the underlying reason for a person being punished is not always the one the prosecuting state says it is. A better example is the trial and incarceration of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the dismemberment of Yukos, the oil company he founded. There was absolutely no doubt that Khodorkovsky had engaged in serious financial improprieties, tax evasion, and general gangsterism and probably had blood on his hands as well. However, as his defenders pointed out quite reasonably, everyone who’d risen to the position of oligarch in ’90s Russia had done exactly the same and often much more and much worse, and some of these men were Vladimir Putin’s best pals. So why Khodorkovsky?

Why, indeed. The reason, as everyone knew, was that he had dared dip his toe into the political arena and threaten Putin’s rule, so he put the entire machinery of the state into action to see that Khodorkovsky was ruined. It was a highly selective use of the justice system, and even Khodorkovsky’s fiercest critics admit privately that the tax evasion was just an excuse, his real crime was threatening the ruling powers. However – and this is crucial in the context of Tommy Robinson – the Russian government made damned sure to publicise Khodorkovsky’s unsavoury past and to emphasise that the crimes he’d committed were real. They did so to ensure his defenders were hamstrung from the start and the public on the side of the state. After all, the rule of law is important, is it not? And Khodorkovsky clearly broke the law, so why should he go free? This is the actual view most Russians take of the matter, yet the chattering classes in the west saw him as some sort of martyr.

I still maintain the reason Tommy Robinson was arrested is because he is an ongoing embarrassment to the ruling classes and he is representative of what they fear most: the ugly, ignorant masses not getting with the programme. Like Khodorkovsky, the fact that he broke the law is largely beside the point, because the law is applied so selectively in modern Britain, and often applied for nakedly political purposes. And like Putin did with Khodorkovsky, the British state has successfully managed to get most people agreeing with the incarceration of Robinson, stroking their chins and earnestly reminding us of the rule of law. I admit, it’s been a neat little operation. Here’s so-called conservative journalist Stephen Pollard:

Again, this is more virtue-signalling than anything else, letting his readers and progressive colleagues know he doesn’t associate with those thick, dishonest Tommy Robinson supporters, thus ensuring he’s not cast out of polite society. Anyone who doesn’t think there is a class issue to all of this is willfully blind: barristers and Oxford educated Metropolitan journalists sneering at the plebs who are simply too stupid to understand what “Tommy the Brave” has been arrested for is, as with so much else, simple snobbery.

There is much to learn from this episode, and it ties in nicely with what the ZMan said recently about Ben Shapiro, the American conservative commentator:

These edgy guys serve as a palace guard, maintaining the line between what is and what is not acceptable. Their job is to make sure that none of the bad think from the outer dark creeps into the thought of the orthodoxy.

Unlike a guy like Peterson or a Sam Harris, Shapiro is just another grifter from Conservative Inc. He’s the edgy band your parents said was OK, hoping you would not start listening to the stuff they thought was dangerous.

Like all of Conservative Inc., he is for free speech that pays him well, but otherwise sides with Antifa against his competition. He’ll never talk about the fact that corporate America is willing to sponsor an Antifa convention in Chicago, but coordinates their efforts to prevent VDare from holding a private gathering.

Someone recently said on Twitter they find Shapiro’s constant policing of the boundaries of right-wing political discourse tiresome. The reaction from Shapiro showed the remark had struck a nerve, and we’re seeing a similar policing action from the right in the UK. The likes of The Secret Barrister, Stephen Pollard, and other supposedly conservative commentators aren’t right wing or even conservative in any meaningful sense, they’ve simply chosen to wear that label while coming out in support of the status quo from which they are likely doing very well indeed. They wouldn’t dare say anything outside the Overton window because they’d lose their spot in whatever social circles they mix in, and almost every genuine conservative policy now falls well outside it. But at the same time, they want to present themselves as representatives of conservative opinion and to do that they must police the boundaries of acceptable discourse and ensure they’re not outflanked on any issue. This is why, when anyone appears bearing genuinely right-wing opinions, they’re subject to character assassinations by the moral guardians of conservative thought.

The real damning fact is that it has fallen to Tommy Robinson to take on the failings of the ruling class, and nobody has stepped up to help him. Where are all the supposed middle class conservatives who say they’re fed up with authoritarian halfwits like Cameron and May leading their party into oblivion? Where are all the MPs who claim they want to see real conservative leadership which can take on the left and roll back the damage wrought by decades of progressive policies? Yes, Tommy Robinson is naive enough to get himself jailed, and he’s not a very slick operator; yes, we know that, but why’s he left to do it all on his own? Why haven’t these oh-so-clever barristers and journalists not taken up the genuine issues he’s cack-handedly trying to draw attention to?

The reason is because what passes for middle and upper class right wing conservatism in Britain is nothing of the kind. Ask yourself, what have they conserved? And who have they put in office since New Labour got kicked out? They’re simply a branch of the establishment, or at the very best they’re enablers of the ruling classes, more interested in feathering their own nests and maintaining the cosy status quo than bringing about change or addressing Britain’s myriad issues. If they couldn’t bring themselves to support what Tommy Robinson is trying to do, they could at least have kept their mouths shut and not do the government’s job for them. Next time you ask why Theresa May is Prime Minister, or why Brexit is being derailed, or why Britain is continuing down the road of identity politics and progressivism, there’s your answer.


56 thoughts on “What Tommy Robinson and Mikhail Khodorkovsky have in common

  1. ?Brilliant article!

    (Even more?) Brilliant comments!!!

    Only thing I didn’t like was hearing the Scared Barrister had closed the comments on his article;

    I’d spent an evening, on and off, replying to it, only to find he’d slipped in an update, which I also commented on.

  2. My original response to the Secret Barrister (apologies, he probably closed comments after falling asleep reading it!):

    Mr B J Mann says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    May 29, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    1. Why was Tommy Robinson arrested?

    “……West Yorkshire police, having been alerted to his activities, arrested Lennon at the scene.”

    I’d heard that he was filming from a point agreed with the police: is that not true?!

    2. What are reporting restrictions?

    “The starting point of our criminal justice system is that justice must be seen to be done.”

    What were the reasons for his secret trial (is it true it was secret even from his solicitor?!)?!

    “However the law provides for exceptions to open justice, known generally as “reporting restrictions”. Reporting restrictions apply in a wide range of situations……”

    I’d read he’d been dragged off to court because he’s breached terms of a suspended sentence, so that’s not the case?!

    “…..One breed of restriction order is something called a “postponement order”, under section 4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981. Postponement orders are not unusual, particularly where there are a series of linked trials – for example, where allegations of grooming rings involving 30 defendants are concerned, there will be several trials (it not being physically possible to accommodate 30 defendants in a single courtroom). To avoid jurors having their deliberations contaminated by what they might read or hear about the earlier linked trials, reporting of all of them is often postponed until the end.”

    Is that why the police don’t go to extreme lengths to publicise details of the defendants in “Grooming” Gang trials to ensure all possible victims come forward to “corroborate” the existing evidence?!

    Unlike in ordinary rape trials?!?!

    But, wait, in ordinary rape trials how do the police “avoid jurors having their deliberations contaminated by what they might read or hear about the earlier linked…. reporting of all of them”?!

    Does this mean that all people convicted of rape following police (and media?!) publicity should be freed and have their convictions overturned?!

    “….On the specific facts of this case, does the public interest in protecting the administration of justice outweigh the strong public interest in open justice?”

    But what about reporting on his own case? Surely that could be done with details of the rape trial being redacted?!

    “This is what we had here. The judge had imposed a postponement order preventing the media from reporting on the ongoing trial until all linked trials had concluded.”
    “Breaching a reporting restriction amounts to a contempt of court. Which is what Yaxley-Lennon admitted doing.”

    Why is this OK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-39580591

    “…..In all the 29 defendants face a total of more than 170 charges…..”

    “…….They appeared in groups before district Judge Michael Fanning during a lengthy court sitting and are next due to appear at Leeds Crown Court on 11 May…..”

    Plus a full listing of names, ages and all charges of the 29 defendants!?!?

    3. But I heard Tommy Robinson was arrested for a breach of the peace. What is a breach of the peace? How is a breach of the peace caused by someone simply filming?

    “…..The courts have confirmed that it covers situations where, for example, there are ***reasonable*** grounds to ***fear*** that a demonstrator or protestor is ***likely*** to ***incite*** violence, even violence against themselves. This *appears* to be applicable to the present case. Robinson *provocatively* filming defendants, selected *deliberately* by ethnicity, and streaming on Facebook for the *edification* of his *cult*, is the *kind* of thing which *could*, it *might* be *argued*, lead to a breach of the peace.”

    Is that the level of legal argument in court these days?!

    5. So back up a step – what exactly is contempt of court?

    “…..The law(s) of contempt are designed to safeguard the fairness of legal proceedings and to maintain the authority and dignity of the court.”

    No further comment required!

    6. What happened at Canterbury Crown Court?

    “On 8 May 2017, during the course of a rape trial at Canterbury Crown Court involving four (***Asian***) defendants, Yaxley-Lennon attended court and attempted to film the defendants for an online broadcast entitled “Tommy Robinson in Canterbury exposing ***Muslim*** child rapists”

    So you’re saying they weren’t British, they were Asian?

    And they weren’t Muslim, they were Zoroastrian, or Buddhist, or Jewish or that other religion, you know, the Middle Eastern one, that was found in the other half of Iran, the other half of Afghanistan, across North Africa (until something strange happened), it’ll come to me!

    Yes?! Is that your point?!?!

    7. So what you’re saying is that Tommy Robinson was given a suspended sentence simply for trying to report on a case? Free speech is truly dead.

    “….This is not theoretical – serious criminal trials have nearly collapsed because of the actions of people like Yaxley-Lennon….”

    You mean like Cliff Richard’s?!

    “We have a quaint tradition in England and Wales that trial by media should be avoided, and that trial on evidence heard in court is the fairest way to determine a person’s guilt.”

    So why do the police advertise and publicise (non “Asian”) rape defendants?

    Can you do that with people accused with burglary or GBH?!

    Ever been punched by this man or seen him loitering around your house around the time you were burgled (even if you haven’t – yet – reported it)?!

    “….it is about ensuring that a jury are not in any way inhibited from carrying out their important function. It is about being innocent until proven guilty.”

    I take it all the false accusers, including in the police and CPS, in all the recent failed rape cases are being prosecuted for contempt of court as we speak?!

    “It is not about people prejudging a situation and going round to that court and publishing material, whether in print or online, referring to defendants as “Muslim paedophile rapists…..”

    Why is it OK for you to prejudge the entire Asian continent as “Asian” accused rapists when they are MUSLIM gangs?

    Especially as the “race” of Asians have a longer history of legal protection than the “religion” of Islam?!

    8. How is all that relevant to what took place on 25 May 2018?

    “…..In short, Mr Yaxley-Lennon, turn up at another court, refer to people as “Muslim paedophiles, Muslim rapists”…..”

    But did he?!

    9. What did he go and do?

    “As we know now, he went and committed a contempt of court by reporting on court proceedings. He did so in a way that expressed his “views” on the guilt or otherwise of the defendants”

    Again, did he?!

    10. He was tried in secret on the day he was arrested, with no lawyers and the media were banned from reporting what had happened. This is Kafka on steroids, surely?

    “…….offered a contemnor (for that is the official term) the chance to seek legal advice, can deal with the offender straight away….. Yaxley-Lennon was legally represented by a barrister and would have received full legal advice.”

    Is it true his own lawyer in London had been told he was being released and he had to rely on one provided by the court?!

    “He also wasn’t tried in secret; his contempt hearing was heard in public, with members of the press present. However, the judge imposed temporary reporting restrictions….”

    So secret to the country at large!

    How many members of the general public, never mind his family, employers, supporters, associates, (own legal team) etc, were in a position to see for themselves the impartiality and lack of prejudice in this non-secret trial?!

    “…media circus… orchestrated attempt at martyrdom… deranged followers… far-right” (where do you put Mussolini? Hitler?!)

    “…judge agreed that, in light of what had happened over the Bank Holiday weekend, restrictions should be lifted to allow publication of the facts…”

    So not the sharpest tool on the bench then!

    “….As for the suggestion (by UKIP among others [why bring them up?!]) that nobody has ever before been found in contempt of court and a postponement order made preventing the media from immediately reporting it, a handy example can be found on 22 May 2017, where one Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was found to be in contempt at Canterbury, and a postponement order was made restricting publication until the end of the substantive trial…”

    As for your response, so you’ve given two examples of only Yaxley-Lennon being the subject/victim of that.

    And none of any other person.


    Clearly the guy isn’t the nicest of people, and clearly he’s been involved in some pretty scummy activities (eg football hooliganism) and some pretty high class ones (“mortgage fraud” – bet there are no policemen, barristers or judges that have inflated their earnings to get a bigger mortgage, or perhaps they don’t need to, not least because they aren’t likely to be driven out of their homes and need to stump up for something safer and more secure?!).

    But equally clearly there have been a lot of politically motivated prosecutions and sentences!

    I thought I’d heard good things about the Secret Barrister Blog, but I must be thinking of some other.

    “…former leader of the English Defence League, convicted fraudster, sometime-football hooligan…. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – to use his real name [so that his home and family can be attacked again, and even residents of former homes, again?!]… hordes… storming [you mean like storm-troopers? storm-front, is it?!]… knuckle-dragging cheerleaders… his racists-in-arms… Nazi-themed march… his cult… preaching to his online followers… diatribe… ye of little brain.. tub thumping… people like Yaxley-Lennon… media circus… orchestrated attempt at martyrdom… deranged followers… far-right” [where do you put Mussolini? Hitler?!] “UKIP” [why bring them up?!]

    The writer of this prejudiced hit piece seems to epitomise everything wrong with our “justice” system “liberal” establishment!

  3. My follow up response to his first update, also not published:

    Mr B J Mann says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    May 30, 2018 at 12:07 am


    In light of the (frankly ingenious) conspiracy theories that are now doing the rounds after the rather mundane truth above was revealed, some bonus Q&As are required:

    11. I heard that Tommy Robinson was denied his own lawyer, and had to have a duty lawyer who was in fact a PROSECUTION lawyer and who didn’t properly defend him.

    “This is quite something. But, sadly [your prejudices are showing again], Yaxley-Lennon was defended by an experienced member of the independent criminal Bar. He may have been offered the duty solicitor at the police station if his chosen solicitor was not available,”

    As mentioned earlier, the “conspiracy theory” I’d hear was that his own solicitor had been told by the police he was being released and so their services weren’t required.

    “but in the Crown Court hearing he was advised and represented by a specialist criminal barrister with over 16 years of experience of cases including murder, people-trafficking, serious violence and serious sexual offences.”

    So never even one single contempt case?

    And did he have even 16 minutes? even 16 seconds?! experience of this one?!?!

    “As an independent barrister, he prosecutes as well as defends (most of us do), but his website profile in fact emphasises his experience as a defence advocate. In other words, Yaxley-Lennon had a top-notch defence barrister fighting his corner.”

    But we still have more questions than answers, your bonus Q&As notwithstanding!

  4. Imagine if Russia did something like this, the squeals that would ensue

    In high-profile cases, the Kremlin wants the letter of the law to be observed as closely as possible. This view of justice is purely procedural: as long as the rules are followed, justice is done. It helps that Russian judges are mostly spineless.

    By the way, I’ve read the judge’s concluding remarks from Robinson’s first contempt trial. She was presiding over a major child rape trial and was genuinely concerned that Robinson’s interference would give the defendants grounds to move for a mistrial. At one point, she had to order the jury and the defendants escorted out of the courtroom through a different route so they wouldn’t bump into the man. Obviously, any judge would see a retrial as a setback to the cause of justice – for example, it’s hard enough to get the victims to testify once.

    On the other hand, someone interested in the big picture and not so much fixated on the legal procedure might argue that the outcome of these trials, regardless of the verdicts, won’t do much to protect low-class girls from predators.

  5. In high-profile cases, the Kremlin wants the letter of the law to be observed as closely as possible. This view of justice is purely procedural: as long as the rules are followed, justice is done. It helps that Russian judges are mostly spineless.

    Indeed, and it was your posting on this very topic that made me draw the parallel (and mention Stalin’s show trials) with what the British government and it’s supporters are doing.

    By the way, I’ve read the judge’s concluding remarks from Robinson’s first contempt trial.

    I don’t doubt that Robinson’s actions could well be a problem. I just don’t give the government the benefit of the doubt any more, nor do I think anyone else would have been clobbered in this manner.

    On the other hand, someone interested in the big picture and not so much fixated on the legal procedure might argue that the outcome of these trials, regardless of the verdicts, won’t do much to protect low-class girls from predators.

    The damage has already been done, unfortunately.

  6. “The damage has already been done, unfortunately.”

    Yes. But if the perps are going to have a relatively easy time in prison, it’s not going to work as a deterrent. Pedophiles and rapists are often he lowest caste in the prison pecking order, but this could be an exception.

    @David Bishop, @Jay: I see this Kipling poem quoted here and there on sites that the MSM call far-right. There’s some irony in this. Kipling wrote it during WWI and the English reader assumed the hatred was directed at the Germans. Kipling had developed a strong personal dislike of Germany even before WWI. During the war, the cabinet asked him to produce propaganda pieces, both in prose and verse, and he naturally obliged. Then his son went missing in action in France. A year and a few months later, he published The Beginnings. It’s a piece of sincere, heartfelt propaganda, but the average Tommy didn’t really hate the average Fritz back then. It sometimes happens that first-rate authors write things that seem out of place or ridiculous, but later, in a different context, suddenly they make sense and their creators are hailed as prophets.

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