Far right activist 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 after Robinson posted two responses to videos on Facebook in November 2018 which contained false slurs.
An online video which went viral showed Jamal being assaulted in the playground at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield in October 2018. In a response on Facebook Mr Robinson suggested Jamal was “not innocent” and made the allegations that the teenager “violently attacks young English girls in his school”. Mr Robinson also wrongly claimed Jamal “beat a girl black and blue” and “threatened to stab” another boy at his school.
At a libel trial in April, Jamal was forced to deny the claims at the High Court, saying the slurs “had a devastating effect” on the lives and him and his family who, as refugees, had come to the UK from Homs in Syria.
Today, Mr Justice Nicklin ruled Robinson had failed to prove that his comments were “substantially true.”
Making an order of £100,000 in damages against the English Defence League founder, he said:
“The consequences to Jamal have been particularly severe. The defendant’s contribution to this media frenzy was a deliberate effort to portray the claimant as being, far from an innocent victim, but in fact a violent aggressor. Worse, the language used was calculated to inflame the situation.
The Judge added:
As was entirely predictable, Jamal then became the target of abuse which ultimately led to him and his family having to leave their home, and to abandon his education. Mr Robinson is responsible for this harm and some of the scars, particularly the impact on the claimant’s education, are likely to last for many years if not a lifetime.”
Robinson was also ordered to pay the costs of the libel action, but will not have to pay immediately – as he is currently bankrupt.