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Ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson breaks silence on his imprisonment

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TOMMY Robinson has claimed he was the victim of "mental torture" and held in solitary confinement as he walked free from jail yesterday.

The English Defence League founder (EDL) hugged friends as he left Onley Prison after a judge overturned his conviction for contempt of court.

Breaking his silence in a video posted to his YouTube channel, Robinson claimed: "Home sweet home. I've got so much to say... but I feel anxious.

"What they tried to do was to mentally destroy me. That wasn't a prison sentence, that was mental torture."

He added; "If I was bitter and angry I would accept my own victimhood. I'm not their victim, I'm their target."

Robinson was sentenced to 13 months in prison earlier this year after broadcasting footage of trial defendants on social media. He claimed he was “reporting” on a grooming trial involving 28 Asian men.

During his Facebook Live stream he referred to specific details about the defendants and questioned why publication was prohibited.

The judge also said that he considered it a “seriously aggravating factor” that Robinson was asking people to share his video, legal documents explain.

But the 35-year-old is now 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.

Speaking out after his release, Robinson said: "I want to thank the British public for all their support."

Later he posted a YouTube video showing the moment he was reunited with his two kids - who he revealed had taken his imprisonment hard.

Robinson also revealed his release from prison will mean he will be able to join his family on their imminent summer holiday to Tenerife.

On the Free Tommy Robinson Facebook page a post said he was "over the moon" about the ruling.

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."

The three top judges presiding over Robinson's 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 yesterday, 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.

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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