UK

EDL founder Tommy Robinson loses libel case brought by Syrian schoolboy

English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson has lost a libel case brought by a Syrian schoolboy who was filmed being attacked at a Huddersfield school.

After the video went viral in 2018, Robinson claimed in two Facebook videos that Jamal Hijazi was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school”.

His lawyers said the comments had “a devastating effect” on him and his family, who had come to the UK as refugees.

A judgment on Thursday by Mr Justice Nicklin ruled in Jamal’s favour and granted him £100,000 in damages.

Robinson’s Facebook videos in response to the attack at Almondbury Community School in October 2018 were viewed nearly a million times.

He also claimed Jamal, now 18, “beat a girl black and blue” and “threatened to stab” another boy – allegations the teenager denies.

The case went to trial in April and Robinson – who represented himself – argued his comments were substantially true and claimed to have “uncovered dozens of accounts of aggressive, abusive and deceitful behaviour” by the teenager.

Jamal’s lawyer, Catrin Evans QC, said Robinson’s comments in the videos led to death threats and “extremist agitation” towards him.

She had argued for damages of between £150,000 and £190,000.

Ms Evans told the court Mr Robinson was “a well-known extreme-right advocate” with an “anti-Muslim agenda” and said his videos “turned Jamal into the aggressor and the bully into a righteous white knight”.

Robinson – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – claimed during the trial that he was an independent journalist.

“The media simply had zero interest in the other side of this story, the uncomfortable truth,” he said.

Speaking after the Thursday’s ruling, Jamal Hijazi’s lawyers said it had taken great courage for him to pursue the case.

“We are delighted that Jamal has been entirely vindicated,” said Francesca Flood from Burlingtons Legal.

“Jamal and his family now wish to put this matter behind them in order that they can get on with their lives.

“They do however wish to extend their gratitude to the Great British public for their support and generosity, without which this legal action would not have been possible.”

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