Tommy Robinson Must Wait for Ruling on Syrian Teenager’s Libel Claim

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July 19, 2021 Updated: July 19, 2021

Tommy Robinson faces a wait to find out whether he has won or lost a libel case brought against him by a Syrian boy who was filmed being attacked at school.

Justice Nicklin was due to hand down his written judgment on Monday, but the ruling has now been postponed.

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, commonly known by his alias Tommy Robinson, is being sued by Jamal Hijazi, who was recorded being bullied in the playground at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in October 2018.

Shortly after the film went viral, Robinson claimed in two Facebook videos, which were viewed by nearly 1 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.

At a four-day trial at the High Court in April, Jamal’s lawyers said that Robinson’s comments had “a devastating effect” on the teenager and his family, who had come to the UK as refugees from Homs in 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.

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 between £150,000 ($206,000) and £190,000 ($260,600).

Robinson is often described as “far-right” and “Islamaphobic” for being associated with the English Defence League (EDL). Robinson co-founded the EDL in 2009 but decided to leave the organisation in 2013, saying he acknowledged “the dangers of far-right extremism and the ongoing need to counter Islamist ideology not with violence but with better, democratic ideas.”

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 ($220,000) 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.”

The Epoch Times contributed to this report.

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