English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson today lost a libel case brought by a Syrian schoolboy who was filmed being attacked at his school – landing him with a £100,000 bill for damages.
The English Defence League founder – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – was sued by Jamal Hijazi, who was assaulted in the playground at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield in October 2018.
Shortly after the video of the incident went viral, Robinson claimed in two Facebook videos that Jamal was ‘not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school’.
Tommy Robinson (right) was sued by Syrian refugee Jamal Hijazi (left) who was filmed being attacked at his school
In the clips viewed by nearly one million people, the 38-year-old also claimed Jamal ‘beat a girl black and blue’ and ‘threatened to stab’ another boy at his school, allegations the teenager denies.
At a four-day trial in April, Jamal’s lawyers said that Robinson’s comments had ‘a devastating effect’ on the schoolboy and his family who had come to the UK as refugees from Homs, Syria.
Robinson, who represented himself, argued his comments were substantially true, claiming to have ‘uncovered dozens of accounts of aggressive, abusive and deceitful behaviour’ by Jamal.
However, in a judgment delivered on Thursday, Mr Justice Nicklin ruled in Jamal’s favour and granted him £100,000 in damages.
Catrin Evans QC, for Jamal, previously said that Robinson’s comments led to the teenager ‘facing death threats and extremist agitation’ and that he should receive damages of between £150,000 and £190,000.
During the trial, Ms Evans described Robinson as ‘a well-known extreme-right advocate’ with an ‘anti-Muslim agenda’ who used social media to spread his views.
She added that Robinson’s videos ‘turned Jamal into the aggressor and the bully into a righteous white knight’.
However, Robinson maintained he was an independent journalist during the trial, telling the court: ‘The media simply had zero interest in the other side of this story, the uncomfortable truth.’
Pictured: A video showing Jamal being pushed to the ground and ‘waterboarded’ on the field at his secondary school in Huddersfield, W. Yorks, was shared nationwide in November 2018
Jamal Hijazi’s lawyer, Francesca Flood, said: ‘It took great courage for our client, Jamal Hijazi, to pursue his libel action against such a prominent far-right and anti-Islam activist as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, better known as Tommy Robinson.
‘We are delighted that Jamal has been entirely vindicated.
‘Jamal and his family now wish to put this matter behind them in order that they can get on with their lives.
‘They do, however, wish to extend their gratitude to the great British public for their support and generosity, without which this legal action would not have been possible.’
The trial also heard evidence from Bailey McLaren, the boy shown pushing Jamal to the ground and pouring water over him in the widely shared video, who denied being racist or a bully.
A hearing will follow today’s judgment to consider the consequences of the ruling.
Source: Daily Mail