Tommy Robinson to find out whether Syrian teenager has won libel claim
Tommy Robinson will find out whether he has won or 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 – is being sued by Jamal Hijazi, who was recorded being bullied in the playground at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield in October 2018.
Shortly after the video went viral, Robinson claimed in two Facebook videos, which were viewed by nearly one million people, that Jamal was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school”.
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.
Mr Justice Nicklin was due to hand down his judgment on Monday, however, the ruling was delayed until Thursday afternoon.
At a four-day trial in April, Jamal’s lawyers said that Robinson’s comments had “a devastating effect” on Jamal and his family who had come to the UK as refugees from Homs, Syria.
Catrin Evans QC described Robinson as “a well-known extreme-right advocate” with an anti-Muslim agenda who used social media to spread his extremist views.
Ms Evans said Robinson’s comments led to Jamal “facing death threats and extremist agitation” and that if the teenager wins the claim he should receive damages of between £150,000 and £190,000.
Throughout the trial, Robinson maintained he was an independent journalist, telling the court: “The media simply had zero interest in the other side of this story, the uncomfortable truth.”
Robinson claimed to have “uncovered dozens of accounts of aggressive, abusive and deceitful behaviour” by Jamal and defended the comments as substantially true.
He said that with people donating nearly £160,000 to a GoFundMe page set up for the claimant, he believed it was important for people to be given a “balanced view”.
Robinson, who represented himself, added: “I only reported what I was told. That is all I’m doing here in this court, looking for the truth.”
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.
Robinson continued: “Almondbury Community School has its failings for sure, but racism and racist bullying was not one of them.”
He added: “Just because (Jamal) might have been a victim does not automatically mean he himself couldn’t be a nasty, foul-mouthed and often violent young person, particularly against girls and smaller, younger boys.”
Following the judgment at 2pm on Thursday, a virtual hearing will then take place to discuss the consequences of the ruling.