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Read this: Tommy Robinson and the rules of journalism

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Tommy Robinson and the rules of journali…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 when it comes to content of does Stephen Jacqueline in better known as Tommy Robinson have a point I thought you have to hear on Radio 4 perhaps also Mr Robinson would argue.

Explain what you doing the day.

He was arrested is there in a medium mate.

Just showing just trying to show people watching this is what's happening.

This is what the case is this is only girls with this is what they said that's outside and then the police arrived.

I am being a restaurant on the one hand we load even champion those who publish classified material which potentially endangers national Security think of the diplomatic cables that led to circum director resignation ambassador to Washington DC baby so called contempt of court actually bring the courts into contempt.

This is a tough complex subject that one that we feel we have to address because of the issues it raises about the nature of Justice about is in the digital age and frankly about where the Tommy Robinson is right to condemn the mainstream Media.

They are exceptionally well informed on these matters with me the studio is Dominic casciani home affairs correspondent on BBC Manchester

Time in his Emily Dugan BuzzFeed a former colleague of Mine At The Independent years ago and recent winner of the poolfoot prize on who's judging panel for her work on British Court editor and columnist of the sun and longtime place weather today who has published a few weeks over the years and Trevor start with David Banks Media law trainer who joins us from York David thanks for your time.

What is contempt of court well, it's not about sticking to the court and judges and things like that.

It's about protecting the rights to a fair trial and protecting the kind of judicial process and which may contempt if we publish something which creates a risk of prejudice or impeding that that trial process we can also display a court order and also connect consumptive to a course of action.

We intimidate Witnesses defendants and Stephen yaxley-lennon master hat trick them.

What he got ser convicted on a lot of people David listening to this may not realise this isn't actually just about to this because I mean how can members of the public meetings, what kind of penalties could they face when the attack was written back in the late seventies and come back in 1981.

It was about broadcast as a newspapers, but the spread of social media means that publishes now.

We've all got a Facebook account with all got Twitter feeds Instagram blogs and somewhere with all of us capable of putting something out there that can do one of those things that might Prejudice a trial isn't then extra common sense objection David to contact numbers which is that in the age of social media is virtually impossible to protect your is from information that could potentially influence play is it is a dilemma for for the course and the law commissioners have looked at it and once I know suggesting quite to Coney in-laws to be able to shutdown access to Prejudice

Patient during trials it's not an easy answer, but the other on the other hand are you do have to trust jurors and if most of us are able to focus on the evidence at hand and think about that then? Why do we assume that jurors are in the sway of the odd tweet or Facebook posts or something like that and I think we have to have a sense of gratitude to how much we think that these things are Prejudice people ok? We're talking about this is caused because the former leader of the English Defence League Mr Lennon dimension is serving time after that.

I want to call Mr Robinson after reports that a judge said vigilante action and unlawful physical aggression against defendants in a sexual exploitation trial he wore a t-shirt emblazoned with words convicted of journalism.

We contacted the rebel media For Whom Tommy Robinson was reporting Ezra Levant whose title is rebel commander centres this I don't think I trust the BBC not to deceptively edit any interview with me your corporate buyers again.

That's not the problem.

It's the BBC Essex not just what we all saw from John Sweeney from Panorama but also Dominic casciani cereal misconduct Dominic casciani say you're guilty of serious misconduct white well, that's what has been saying for some time as we haven't got a problem with the BBC because we keep calling him out when he and his acolytes go castle report in inverted commas the Tommy Robinson Stephen yaxley-lennon case they have repeatedly done so in a way which is completely disconnected from the reality of what's going on.

I sat in court through every one of the stages of this enormous long Saga after Tommy Robinson win his quarter to kill case she had a second go at trying to get off this and S Curve of the revamped to repeatedly misreporting.

What was going on to the point where he was accusing judges last week of corruption music using the prosecutor.

Bring up for rape gangs and increasingly also pointing out things which other media were doing in the in the court which are from our perspective is that was a security risk because that security people outside the concern that the crowd outside which was sizeable we're going to turn against us this weekend as a call and just on the Mechanics of how to Robinson was found guilty and is an attractive you about that particular case you didn't know the law because he been on this training course.

I think he committed content of course first in 2017 at Canterbury Crown Court where he went along to film a very similar case of a grooming gang be disrupted that to such an extent that he got suspended sentence of 3 months there and then from the judge was so shocked by what happened and rebel was so shocked at what happened to their corresponding thereto, said they sent him on a media training course cost of a lot of money for the big more firm clearly enough it didn't.

Because when he arrives at Leeds about a year later still under the original suspended sentence he didn't actually follow all the procedures that a normal reporter with do which includes out of the event the Clerk of the court considered that one critical thing that he didn't do the any Court reports of nose.

They should do is going to speak to the clock in court and say hello Mr or Mrs Clark is a reporting restriction in this case and that point you we told yes or no.

He didn't do that.

How did is Yusuf Facebook if it is legal position in effects what happened is as David is alluded to it led to a hat-trick and it's the first one is The Breaking of the reporting restriction.

We weren't supposed to report this case until it was completed and that was to protect the jury in the follow-up trial the Livestream in the view of the judge said the Old Bailey last week impeded Justice because it effectively created a situation where the defendants or others may not wish to take part in the trial so that make it more.

Call control process to be completed another third element which was his aggressive Confrontation of similar dependence of the end of course which was streamed live the Livestream was then plated shared by the thousands of thousands of his followers so from 10000 initial Watchers or rather a peak of 10000 quarter of a million by the end of the weekend 3 million NFC disappeared from most places on the internet and the argument was that the type of people who were going to be viewing that included his supporters who would potentially go and ask the defendants or their families ok? It's ok.

I just go back to first principles Tommy Robinson says that contempt of court laws are a kind of cover because they allow the mainstream media and lower case because it's concerned about the case concerns British Muslim men in grooming gangs.

Do you think he's on something at all, but I think that the contempt of court law rules?

Centre court laws are open to criticism but I think there's a case for some sort of review of them and there has been already but I think they are there for the Protection of people who are going through the process of the courts of justice system so that they aren't her Prejudice by some evidence given in the case which overlaps their own and while I think there may be some argument for a review.

I don't think that Stephen yaxley-lennon who I will continue to call Stephen yaxley-lennon is the right person to be the flag bearer think that he is a discredit to the even the beginning of the name of journalism and you say that there's potential reforms and should be with you.

What are the things? You don't like about it.

I think it should be open to appeal very much more debatable than it.

Is is someone to Conan at the moment and I think that there are sometimes and I'm sure Dominik Moll be able to cite examples where you do feel that the

Necessary and almost impossible to actually impose those rules without causing other anomalies in the process, so I think that is the things that it should be and there are injunctions Francis is a similar sort of argument that charges imposed these rulings and basically.

They are there an appealable Emily you notice you everybody knows your name for someone that is hard these days until what's the difference between a genus civilian, but should be treated in the same way every Trevor's just spoken extremely articulate Leah pug a legal position some people who are just not know about that and yet they still have these laws is if you just turning up to a case.

I mean contemplar is it is quite hard to follow in places and and you know most of us don't listen Court will have had some some Media tray.

Or even if not that we've had a voice medicines before you went in but it's it is worrying that you know the member of the public you could inadvertently in contempt of court just for mate.

We saw a Facebook post, can I do think that is a difficult area would it be useful to think to say to the public if news is use instead of a reporting restriction has been impose a particular issue or at least acknowledge its existence and if you like neutralise Tommy Robinson's arguing don't Stephen HappyLand like me or do you think that too without prejudice in the charts? You can't even do that.


Did you do you think that news stations? Do you say look there's certain things.

We just can't talk about any Dominic Saturday as well.

Come on to go to deal with them and other people say he's ignoring stories were together and he's trying to avoid being in contempt of court.

Is there somewhere that use institutions should maybe is the existence of a story which they can't report or do you think that itself could Prejudice the trial is very difficult to say how you would how you manage that I mean if

If you just flag that case it out that it might even looked worse than it is that's so that's quite chance.

How would you feel that in order to say you know this is this is something in order to say neutrally this is just in case it's out there because people always interpret.

That is something extremely the local on Twitter about the fact if you're not coming to the stories and obviously Twitter is nothing like the general knowledge and she made me realise but can you just talk through the salt agree that you get and what you said about it.

So if if I go back just one step and giving an example of one of the problems we have to retake the case that Tommy Robinson Stephen yaxley-lennon was disrupting at Leeds so that was sexual grooming gang cases where he said the vast majority of the defendant's of Muslim and therefore we were not we were afraid as in Weedon mainstream.

Media to talk about that case that a problem was over 29 defendants split.

Least three trials in the end of became even more complicated than that so because it was effectively identical evidence from linked Witnesses to all the trials if you report a trial one has contempt of court as currently constructed.

It makes it very difficult for a jury.

You were going to hear trial two or three not to be potentially Prejudice no that's the view of the judge who set up the first place so we can't report any of that and that's a process which is going to go on a year or so as you have said she said everything what's happening at the moment kassiano has he gone extended leave it actually is doing a lot of trainers me just can't talk about and that's the problem this in terrorism cases before link two cases of the far right wing cases on the jihadist side as well people are saying that why are you reporting this case? It's not what you have to do is Stonewall I can't sit there and say I'm not in that case because guess what does reporting restriction because that could potentially lead means territory where abridged reporting never been trolled as a result yep as every other journalists who's on the on these kind.

It's now when Tommy Yaxley Lennon generally went down last week on the first things that I did as did a lot of the journalist who care about this is we put out and put all the stories that we have actually done on this and I sent a series of six or seven tweets Indies at all the stories that my colleagues have run on the Huddersfield grooming gang so the idea that will not currently stored in fact what happens if we had a colleague who was in court in and out during the whole process Gathering all the key facts as every other journalists would do working out what the story is so that when the reporting restrictions lifted when was convicted or acquitted bang.

There's your story.

That's the content of law law contempt of court law enter actually discriminating against smaller publications is the big and Mighty BBC cover for tabletop report electronic reporting for years without any output necessary because he's not allowed to report it if you're smaller publication and local newspaper Princes you just kind of thought to have a Beat reporter sort of diss.

Report on the centre of this is the self defining of people who are basically citizen journalists as journalists.

I don't think you're in time is a journalist any more than you're able to say I'm a car mechanic and you don't know how many spark plug every journalist every legitimate journalist is bound by the Editors code of conduct which is as a member of the episode independent panel of the editorial guidelines of what it entails to be a court reporter.

There are quite stringent rules and Donegal know them backwards, but if you don't know about quarter pudding and the rules that apply to the you shouldn't try it.

It's fraught is there is a minefield of possible errors and disasters and your family at you.

Just want to go for a word for you access to Justice campaign before we talk about leaks tell us what these lives.

What to do when your bored for what did you discover about the legal system in Britain and Hardy it's working a lot of what I was looking at was around legal aid in the fact that legal aid taken away substantially from from large swathes of Law which means the people representing themselves in court and I think it was hard to turn that quite abstract Concepts into stories and I just spent a lot of time watching people fight some of the biggest battles of their family lives whether that's being able to see their children or you know that actually also in Criminal cases unit offending drug charges without but this is increasingly a problem and it has been since since the coalition government introduced legislation in 2012 that that took away legal aid over it again.

It's not there lots of headlines against legal aid when when when you know and I'm popular terrorist or somebody gets gets gets funding for their case and what the story that wasn't really being told was what was.

Play The End exactly between law and journalism which is which takes a nice Beyonce related but different story with two weekends ago the Mail on Sunday published in the Mask by secondary the British ambassador to Washington which relate to the genus Isabel oakeshott.

We did invite me social army, but she declined that make no mistake this was a mega scoop which had enormous impact the president of united longer work with second half of our Boris Johnson declined to offer his personal support to keep resigned a new ambassador to Washington will need to be found that is what I call him back in the last Wednesday I need to be during his capacity as Foreign Secretary history said even when sometimes we disagree with some of the things that happened in the country have to stand up for our values and succumb directors job.

He's incredibly disappointing that this happened.

I do think it was a black day for British diplomacy and there is also often with delete a profile.

Little element towards the brexit party speaking to Cathy Newman Channel 4 news last week has been many senior service have been trying to stop brexit and I suspect there are a small number of civil servants to actually pro-brexit and you know their trying to the even the school and maybe that's how this is coming out very credible the civil service would like this.

Where does it come from? Where did the Titanic for sometime now been in a relationship with me so short a fact that she just said that he didn't disclose the Channel 4 News became public after she might say it's their private matter miss oakeshott tweeted, so What it's not a secret.

He had nothing to do with my story has never seen a cable and doesn't know the identity of the source next statement for mature hear it reads as follows.

It's worth pointing out that the FCO had every opportunity to prevent publication the cables they do.

Do so instead they played down the significance of the leak dismissing it as much as there is a world of difference between mischief and a threat to national Security is not the content of the leaked documents but the reaction of Donald Trump in Derek's critique that is temporarily damage UK US relations.

There is now an opportunity for a positive reset with the white house the bigger question of whether this is a criminal matter Neil Basu the Metropolitan Police horses assistant commissioner for counterterrorism adviser press this week to hand over leaked documents to the police rather than publish them better since Road back from that.

Have a long and glorious history of course from the Pentagon Papers to the Panama papers and expensive as remembered that house but and this is the absolute key different Media will be bringing different editorial and commercial considerations to bear on whether they story or not it would you produce these cables at the BBC so I think I've been debating this since this morning about what the approaches and and I think I I suspect if

Come to us we probably would have done but I think it would have been a much more labyrinthine process that she get there because when you dealing with issues of National security, so the issue here is this is there is a national Security concern information that I imagine that most people come down on the side of saying actually this is really about embarrassment because let's face it everybody knows what the British government in most senior officials think about trump recently confirming.

There's no question that I just sent you do not see the question of national Security here.

They noticed a secret nothing to do with a defence or any other form of security so I think that any newspaper within the blink of an eye decided that they would publish that you just made you think that some newspapers ambassador undermining position circum BBC publish your story and washing to get sacked well as you know he gets the stick whichever way to jumpstart never from your page, but I think that the

Repeat the question you're asking is really whether or not a genuine news story should be published or not this was nothing to do with national Security they say it was a matter of embarrass.

Are there any stories that you really to the course of your career which with the benefit of hindsight you think you're onto punish.

No, I can't believe you that can't be the case.

Do you ever think you're a manipulated by a political sauce the whenever I acquired a league I felt that it was in the best possible cause so there will be less finished with these questions where which which part of Dublin did you release the best leak? I had was the League of Tony Blair's handwritten letter beseeching his party define eye-catching initiatives which she wrote checkers, and it was the first time ever serving Prime Minister's 100 note was that was actually had the most in my house.

I'm not telling you.

Is it something about to check if I could possibly David Banks is there a profound is an error found inconsistencies here one some people will struggle to comprehend which is when it matters anyone could be held in contempt if they say the wrong thing but when it comes to secret diplomatic cables germs could put them in the public domain why but I think it was a kind of false equivalence between taking people's right to a fair trial and issues around the official secrets act noise of these offences both recently fish and chips at a good time to call have public interest defences to a lot of talking is going on about it in the public interest to do this and it might well be but if they get you into court both the content and full official secrets you don't have a public interest defence so that no one has been with official secrets though, that's what I'll get prosecuted a lot for contempt and Trevor Kavanagh the sun got the record fine for its and while ago when it comes to.

Secrets the Garden of the League Cup they don't go after newspapers publishing genuine news stories about the training is an element here Emily of self appointed officers of the public who is Isabel oakeshott or the editor of the Mail on Sunday or Trevor Kavanagh Dominic casciani autumn or Argentine Republic are not know about it hurts.

I mean it that's that's true.

No one voted for us, but I suppose that's why you fall back on your experience is journalist and you that's it always been the way that we we have the opportunity to hold power to account hold the government to account and therefore we way up what we think we'll do that without putting anyone in danger and that's that's that's our profession to we're not we're not elected in but then every word that will make us even more susceptible to corruption and we we do live in an age of information warfare is buzzfeed's is often reported.

Isn't there a very profound danger that journalist.

Exhilaration of the Scoop I being manipulated for Political purposes and give you the inside skin on a story to do the rating of course no one's going to deny the adrenaline of a leak but that doesn't mean that you are you still you still get through you still go to the same thought processes of it is in the public interest is it is anyone going to be in danger to do that and sometimes you don't have time cuz you think that you're not the blood picture.

Is that we are Germans who are trained and are expected to observe a know the law and we have company lies read what we right before we go to press and decide and you fight? The song.

Why and how that story came about and is it legally to institutional being invalid by the institution gives you a certain authority to make those decisions are codes of conduct for journalism as there are in the legal and Medical Profession so I wouldn't put it up in the same.

Completely, but we do have codes of conduct tell me why you so vigorously right now because I think it's I think you've got this rule clash around leeks for journalists which is thermally excited than leaks happen all we discover something which year the state wants to keep a secret but then you put your ethical hat on and then you start worrying about it at the same time about as Emily says and it is something which is dangerous national Security I mean Isabelle's statement refers to the dino 6 committee and I think it's really misunderstood by the public are the mod doesn't have the power to tell public advisory thing is I really would put that out because that's talking about how we doing now.

That's the kind of dilemma.

They tried to put it in that I have to say I have a few conversations with dino to do with a bit more vigorous agency Hero by The Metropolitan

Commissioner Neil Basu to turn it into a criminal offence to publish links between barrister into the government or covered by the official secrets act now it seems to me that despite the outpouring exhibited by various politicians and editors at the time.

This was cleared up at the end of the Elveden trial involving 21 sun journalist when the chairman Lord chief justice in the appeals Court ruled that it was not a crime to publish information which has been obtained in any way that breaks the law and that it wasn't it illegal to buy or obtain information.

It might be a legal pads under employment law to sell it or distributed but the Freedom of came first and that had to be the criteria on which judgement like this woman going back with Basu claiming that we are breaking the law if it has a very thing that we were all acquitted.

Exonerated in the most of the longest and most expensive criminal investigation Scotland Yard history treat the idea of Free Press exercise, why should that be are? They are there times when to preserve national Security Francis Jones just shut up for once I think the Free Press freedom of speech the fundamentals Volvo democracy.

You can't have free speech without a free press and while the Free Press Cannock age me and agonize upset and beer Ambassadors rumbustious, it is an essential ingredient in freedom and democracy have heard that before I agree with you every you describe by the Ministry of Justice official language.

So cool.

I can't say I'm ready for how how scary is it posting stuff that I don't want to publish it can be nerve-wracking and you're all sorted very conscious of protecting your source in that case I was link to document that a report that the ministry.

Just as sad.

Didn't exist they said there was a 6 page summary and nothing else than the next week.

I got sent to 36 page for report which showed that actually judges were very worried about some people in court in brief a very pretty.

What was the worst of your friend.

I mean I think a lot of the worst language.

They say for their internal messaging which only came out after I said they would generally they generally what happens if you'll get your get a call from the price of side.

I think you've got the wrong end of the Stick here and some form and eventually thanks so much anyway back at the same time next.

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