Tommy Robinson has been ordered to pay £100,000 in damages after losing 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 was shared widely on social media, Robinson claimed in two Facebook videos that Jamal was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school”.
In the footage, which was viewed by nearly one million people, the 38-year-old also said that Mr Hijazi “beat a girl black and blue” and “threatened to stab” another boy at his school- allegations denied by the teenager.
During a four-day trial in April, Mr Hijazi lawyers said Robinson’s comments had “a devastating effect” on the schoolboy and his family who had sought sanctuary in the UK as refugees from Homs, Syria.
In his defence, Robinson, who represented himself, argued his comments were substantially true, claiming to have “uncovered dozens of accounts of aggressive, abusive and deceitful behaviour” by Mr Hijazi.
In a judgment delivered on Thursday, however, Mr Justice Nicklin ruled in Mr Hijazi's favour and granted him £100,000 in damages.Catrin Evans QC, representing Mr Hijazi, had previously said that Robinson’s comments led to the teenager “facing death threats and extremist agitation” and that he should receive damages up to £190,000.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 his videos “turned Jamal into the aggressor and the bully into a righteous white knight”.
Watch ITV News' exclusive interview with the Syrian schoolboy from November 2018
Robinson, however, insisted at the trial that he was an independent journalist, telling the court: “The media simply had zero interest in the other side of this story, the uncomfortable truth.”
In 2019, Robinson was locked up for live-streaming on Facebook a video which featured defendants in a sexual exploitation trial and put the case at risk of collapse.A hearing will follow Thursday’s judgment to consider the consequences of the ruling.