Tuesday 22 October 2019

Moz picks the wrong martyr in Robinson

Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

Oh dear, he's at it again.

Morrissey (pictured) may well be the finest lyricist of his generation - he was certainly the frontman of the finest band of his era.

But the man is quite stark, raving bonkers, which is why ageing Smiths fan are so quick to cut him some slack whenever he comes out and says something stupid, which is by now a far more familiar occurrence than, say, releasing a great album.

His latest remarks about jailed anti-Islam firebrand Tommy Robinson speak of a man who is not just out of time, but completely out of touch.

Being out of time is, of course, fine. Moz was never exactly what you might call a conformist, so the fact that he is refusing to go along with the pieties of the day are to be admired rather than condemned.

But by saying that Robinson, who was jailed recently for contempt of court, was a victim of the establishment is simply incorrect.

According to Morrissey, "it's very obvious that Labour or the Tories do not believe in free speech… I mean, look at the shocking treatment of Tommy Robinson".

This is where it gets interesting.

When news of Robinson's arrest and sentencing were announced, it certainly did appear to have all the hallmarks of a stitch up - until the facts emerged, that is.

The reason why his initial arrest and sentencing weren't publicised wasn't because he was the victim of a kangaroo court, or had been stitched up by the hated mainstream media, but actually because he had breached an order not to publicise anything about an ongoing trial.

Robinson promptly stood outside the court and Facetimed his followers with details which were still sub judice and therefore he was in automatic contempt of court.

Because the trial on which he had commented was still an ongoing, live case, even the publication of his arrest could have been seen as being in contempt of court. So the papers held off on the story until they were legally able to report it.

Reporting restrictions are in place for most trials of a sensitive nature and it has nothing to do with the judges being undemocratic, authoritarian bastards, or the journalists being cowards. Such restrictions are there to protect the integrity of the system and they're there to make sure people can get a fair trial without proceedings being tainted by the likes of Robinson, or anyone else who is happy to risk collapsing a trial just to get a bit of social media fame. There is undoubtedly a rise in politically motivated prosecutions in the UK, but this wasn't one of them and it's wrong to make a free speech martyr out of Robinson, who knew exactly what he was doing.

That's Moz, though - he was always partial to a bit of rough...

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