Tommy Robinson Ordered To Pay £100,000 In Damages To Syrian Schoolboy
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Anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson has been made 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.
Robinson - real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon - was sued by Jamal Hijazi after an incident in a school playground in Huddersfield in October 2018 in which he was beaten by other pupils was caught on camera.
After the video of the incident gained notoriety online, Robinson falsely claimed that Hijazi was ‘not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school’ in Facebook videos that were viewed by nearly one million people
The right-wing activist also claimed Hijazi, now 18, ‘beat a girl black and blue’ and ‘threatened to stab’ another boy at his school - although he could not present any evidence to support his claims - accusations that led to backlash against the boy’s family, eventually meaning they were forced to relocate.
In a high court judgment, Mr Justice Matthew Nicklin said as the consequences of Robinson’s falsehoods had been ‘particularly severe’ he was awarding £100,000 in damages.
The judge said Robinson had painted Hijazi as ‘a violent aggressor’ when he was in fact the victim, and that the language he had used was designed to ‘inflame the situation’ forcing Hijazi to abandon his education and his family to flee their home.
The teenager also became the target of death threats from the far right, with his lawyers saying he had been ‘entirely vindicated’ in his decision to sue.
Francesca Flood of Burlingtons Legal 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.”
Robinson - representing himself - argued that his comments were substantially true, and that he had found ‘dozens of accounts of aggressive, abusive and deceitful behaviour’ by Hijazi, however the judge rule that he had been unable to provide any proof of his claims.
Robinson said he was shocked by the costs Hijazi’s lawyers were claiming, saying: “I’ve not got any money. I’m bankrupt. I’ve struggled hugely with my own issues these last 12 months … I ain’t got it.”
The judge acknowledged there were ‘limits on what can be enforced against him’ but ruled he should pay Hijazi’s legal costs.
The judge added that he did not believe the filmed attack against Hijazi was racially motivated and that the boy seen attacking Hijazi in the clip, was also a victim who had ‘probably regarded Robinson as something of a saviour who was prepared to help him in what must have been a low and very frightening point of his life.
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