Tommy Robinson has lost a libel case brought against him by a Syrian schoolboy who was filmed being attacked at school.
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”.
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 22 July, 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, 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.
A hearing will follow the judgment to consider the consequences of the ruling.
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