Hundreds of supporters of Tommy Robinson filled the streets of London on Saturday in protest against his arrest in Leeds on Friday, but it was not until shortly after midnight on Monday that the Daily Mail posted a report about the protest on its website. The story, which was unsigned, was updated on early Monday afternoon. How to explain the delay? Did the Daily Mail’s lawyers have to check with the British government, which had placed a gag order on reporting about the arrest, to make sure that it was permissible to report on the protest, if not directly on the arrest itself?
The Mail made sure to describe the hundreds of protesters as “far-right.” How did the Mail ascertain their politics? Does it not occur to the Mail that even if Robinson were far-right, which he is not, a British subject would not have to be far right to want to take in a protest against his shockingly rapid-fire arrest, trial, conviction, and imprisonment for the sole offense of reporting from outside a courthouse?
The Evening Standard also reported on the protest – and also labeled the participants “far-right.” “The incident,” wrote the Standard ‘s Tom Powell, “has triggered a furious reaction from his fans.” In fact, it seems fair to say that the incident has shocked, outraged, and scared people around the world who, until now, had thought of the United Kingdom as a free country.