LONDON — Police arrested five people on Saturday after clashes broke out during a demonstration by hundreds of people against the jailing of a former far-right leader for contempt of court.
Dutch anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders was among those who spoke at the demonstration calling for the release of former English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson.
Robinson was jailed last month after he used social media to broadcast details of a trial that was subject to blanket reporting restrictions.
The protesters blocked off a major road near Trafalgar Square in central London, chanting “Free Tommy Robinson” and hurling smoke bombs at police.
They also took over an open-topped tourist sight-seeing bus, holding up British and Welsh flags and placards.
“During the protest there were scenes of violence which saw bottles, metal barriers and other objects thrown at officers,” police said in a statement. “Five officers have reported injuries, which are not serious.”
Two arrests were for assaulting a police officer, one for possessing an offensive weapon, one for possession of a flare and the other for criminal damage to a bus.
Robinson was already subject to a suspended sentence for a contempt charge related to a separate case when he was arrested last month, and had been warned by a judge he would face prison if he committed further offences, the BBC reported.
Appearing in court under his real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, he pleaded guilty and was given 10 months in jail for contempt of court, and another three months for breaching his previous sentence.
Reporting restrictions are imposed in all court proceedings in Britain, and are intended to avoid media reports that could influence the jury.
Robinson quit the EDL, known for organizing street protests against what it claimed was the spread of radical Islam in Britain, in 2013 claiming he could no longer contain its “extremist elements.”