The question of whether TR ever pleaded guilty or not to "contempt of court" at Leeds seems to be finally answered in the transcript of the appeal judgement.
The original judge never actually pinned down what his "contempt" was supposed to be exactly, therefore TR could not possibly have said one way or another whether he agreed with the accusation. The barrister supposedly representing TR at the time (not TRs own lawyer, but one hastily appointed by the court) did not object to these vague accusations being made, and that was then taken by the judge as "an admission of guilt". So then the judge (presumably this was the same "window peeking" judge who had been watching TR out on the street outside the court) just proceeded "as if" TR had already agreed he was guilty of something.
That was way out of order.
So a guy standing on the public street, and reading from a local newspaper is deemed somehow to be in contempt of a court sitting nearby. Then snatched from the street and summarily imprisoned.23. In considering the appropriate punishment, the judge proceeded on the basis that the appellant had admitted his contempt. He continued:"This morning, well knowing that the jury in this trial were in retirement and well knowing that there was a prohibition on publication because you referred to it in your video, you stood outside this building...
Now we hear what the UK's top lawyer Lord Chief Justice Burnett has to say...
Even in cases where a court considers it necessary to proceed summarily to deal with a contempt it is often wise, having sorted out the immediate concern, to adjourn the contempt hearing to a later date and sometimes before a different judge.
That avoids any question of the judge being judge in his own cause. In most cases concerning an interference with the public course of justice, the judge will refer the matter to the Attorney General.
The window peeker seems to have had a sudden rush of blood to the head, and had TR arrested simply for being TR. For generally talking about religion and ethnicity, which the judge regarded as being "offensive"64.In this case, no particulars of the scope of the alleged contempt were ever formulated, let alone in writing, or put to the appellant. With respect to all those involved in the hearing, there was some muddle over the nature of the contempt being considered, not only in the short exchanges which represented such formulation as there was, but also in the sentencing remarks.
...It is entirely unclear what aspects of the video the appellant, through his counsel, was accepting amounted to contempt in that regard.
So there you have it. The LCJ thinks TR has the right to express his views on the street outside a court. Yes folks, its called Free Speech. And whether the judge peeking out the window agrees or disagrees with those views, or is offended, is entirely irrelevant. If he thought the views amounted to "hate speech" he should have made a complaint to the police.However, in his sentencing remarks the judge made specific reference to the appellant’s generic comments during the course of his broadcast about his perception of the role of religion and ethnicity offending in nature alleged in the case in progress.
Doubtless, these comments were, at least potentially, capable of amounting to a free standing contempt of court but they were not in any sense a report on the proceedings themselves.
And most damning of all, neither was it something that should have activated the previous "contempt of court" sentence suspended from Canterbury court one year earlier....
Then we have the stitch-up which resulted in TR receiving much harsher prison conditions than he should have been afforded, even if he had beens guilty of contempt. TR was treated as a criminal, when in fact no crime had been committed.65 But, in our view, it is clear from the remarks of the judge that he was concerned with, and sentenced for, comments made by the appellant which could not have been covered by the section 4(2) order.
When the court wrongly classified TR as a convict (deliberately?) the prison staff were later obliged to withdraw certain privileges that a prison inmate who was inside for the much lesser "contempt of court" charge would expect to receive.In our judgment the failure to follow the requirements of Part 48 of the Rules was much more than a technical failure. In contempt proceedings, touching as they do on the liberty of the subject, there is a need for the contempt in question to be identified with precision and the conduct of the alleged contemnor identified with sufficient particularity to enable him, with the assistance of legal advice, to respond to what is a criminal charge, in all but name. In this case there was no clarity at all about what the appellant was admitting and for what parts of his broadcast he was considered by the judge to be guilty of contempt of court for breach of the section 4(2) order.
There are some very serious flaws uncovered here. Its was a real miscarriage of justice.74. Accordingly, the classification of the appellant as a convicted prisoner has had the effect of depriving him of privileges relating to: visits by his doctor or dentist, the freedom to choose what clothes to wear and the absence of restrictions on prison visits and the sending and receipt of letters.
So even though this case will be tried again later, all the above serious shortfalls would have to be addressed if TR is to be found guilty of contempt of court "again". If it turns out, as seems likely, that he did not deserve the treatment he got, then he will be entitled to a large compo payment.77. In summary, the finding of contempt made in Leeds must be quashed because:
(1) It was inappropriate to proceed immediately on the motion of the court to deal with the alleged contempt after immediate steps had been taken to remove the offending video from the internet. An adjournment was necessary to enable the matter to proceed on a fully informed basis; in any event
(ii) The failure to comply with Part 48 of the Rules resulted in
there being no clear statement, orally or in writing, of the conduct said to comprise a contempt for
contravening the section 4(2) order in place;
(iii) It was unclear what conduct was said to comprise a breach of that order and
the appellant was sentenced on the basis of conduct which fell outside the scope of
(iv) The haste with which the contempt proceedings were conducted led to an
inability of counsel to mitigate fully on the appellant's behalf.
78. The finding of contempt must be quashed and all the consequential orders will fall