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Tommy Robinson must wait for ruling on Syrian teenager’s libel claim

The English Defence League founder is being sued by Jamal Hijazi.

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Tommy Robinson is being sued for libel by a Syrian boy who was filmed being attacked at school (Victoria Jones/PA)

Tommy Robinson is being sued for libel by a Syrian boy who was filmed being attacked at school (Victoria Jones/PA)

Tommy Robinson is being sued for libel by a Syrian boy who was filmed being attacked at school (Victoria Jones/PA)

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.

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, West Yorkshire, in October 2018.

Shortly after the film 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.

I only reported what I was toldTommy Robinson

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.

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 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.

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Syrian schoolboy Jamal Hijazi gave evidence at the trial in April 2021 (Victoria Jones/PA)

Syrian schoolboy Jamal Hijazi gave evidence at the trial in April 2021 (Victoria Jones/PA)

PA

Syrian schoolboy Jamal Hijazi gave evidence at the trial in April 2021 (Victoria Jones/PA)

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.”

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

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