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Tommy Robinson loses Jamal Hijazi libel case

Tommy Robinson  loses Jamal Hijazi libel case


Tommy Robinson loses libel case brought by Syrian schoolboy Thu, 22 Jul 2021 17:00:00 +0100-The High Court orders the anti-Islam activist to pay a teenage refugee £100000 in damages.

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Tommy Robinson loses Jamal Hijazi libel case

image captionStephen Yaxley-Lennon, known as Tommy Robinson, represented himself at the trial at the Royal Courts of Justice

English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson has been ordered to pay £100,000 in libel damages to a Syrian schoolboy.

The anti-Islam activist, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, published two Facebook videos in response to a viral clip of Jamal Hijazi being attacked.

He failed to convince the High Court his claims, such as Mr Hijazi attacking “young English girls”, were true.

Mr Justice Nicklin found in Mr Hijazi's favour after a trial earlier this year.

The judge also ordered Mr Yaxley-Lennon to pay legal costs understood by the BBC to amount to about £500,000.

Mr Hijazi was filmed being attacked in the playground at Almondbury School in Huddersfield in October 2018.

Shortly after the video of the assault went viral, Mr Yaxley-Lennon claimed in two Facebook videos that the teenager was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school”.

In clips viewed by nearly one million people, the 38-year-old also claimed Mr Hijazi “beat a girl black and blue” and threatened to stab another boy at his school, allegations denied by Mr Hijazi.

“As was entirely predictable, the claimant then became the target of abuse which ultimately led to him and his family having to leave their home, and the claimant to have to abandon his education.

“The defendant is responsible for this harm, some of the scars of which, particularly the impact on the claimant's education, are likely to last for many years, if not a lifetime.”

The judge said Mr Yaxley-Lennon's defence that the “very serious” allegations were substantially true had not been proved, and he had used language “calculated to inflame the situation”.

“The defendant's contribution to this media frenzy was a deliberate effort to portray the claimant as being, far from an innocent victim, but in fact a violent aggressor,” he added.

At a further hearing, the judge granted an injunction against Mr Yaxley-Lennon preventing him from repeating the allegations.

The final damages and costs figures will be agreed and submitted to the High Court at forthcoming hearings to establish Mr Yaxley-Lennon's means and assets.

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon's repeated jailings down the years – including nine months for interfering with a trial of a sexual grooming gang – have failed to silence him. But a turning of the legal screw on his finances may have a more profound effect.

He made a small fortune from his provocative social media channels attacking Islam and Muslims – enough to fund a lifestyle that would be the envy of many, complete with a large country house.

The cash began to dry up as he was thrown off Facebook and Youtube and some of his wealthy benefactors in North American backed away. Today, his social media reach is a shadow of what it once was. It's never been clear how much he made and where it has all gone – and that's why this judgment is so important. Not only does it vindicate Jamal Hijazi – but it opens the door to a court examination of his finances and how he affords to keep his activities going.

Jamal Hijazi's lawyers welcomed the judgement and praised Mr Hijazi's “courage” in pursuing the claim.

Francesca Flood, from Burlingtons Legal, said: “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.”

During a trial in April, Catrin Evans QC, for Mr Hijazi, said that Mr Yaxley-Lennon's comments led to the teenager “facing death threats and extremist agitation” and that he should receive damages of between £150,000 and £190,000.

She described Mr Yaxley-Lennon as “a well-known extreme-right advocate” with an “anti-Muslim agenda” who used social media to spread his views.

His videos “turned Jamal into the aggressor and the bully into a righteous white knight”, she said.

Mr Yaxley-Lennon, who represented himself during the trial, 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.”

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
image captionStephen Yaxley-Lennon, known as Tommy Robinson, represented himself at the trial at the Royal Courts of Justice

English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson has been ordered to pay £100,000 in libel damages to a Syrian schoolboy.

The anti-Islam activist, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, published two Facebook videos in response to a viral clip of Jamal Hijazi being attacked.

He failed to convince the High Court his claims, such as Mr Hijazi attacking “young English girls”, were true.

Mr Justice Nicklin found in Mr Hijazi's favour after a trial earlier this year.

The judge also ordered Mr Yaxley-Lennon to pay legal costs understood by the BBC to amount to about £500,000.

Mr Hijazi was filmed being attacked in the playground at Almondbury School in Huddersfield in October 2018.

Shortly after the video of the assault went viral, Mr Yaxley-Lennon claimed in two Facebook videos that the teenager was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school”.

In clips viewed by nearly one million people, the 38-year-old also claimed Mr Hijazi “beat a girl black and blue” and threatened to stab another boy at his school, allegations denied by Mr Hijazi.

“As was entirely predictable, the claimant then became the target of abuse which ultimately led to him and his family having to leave their home, and the claimant to have to abandon his education.

“The defendant is responsible for this harm, some of the scars of which, particularly the impact on the claimant's education, are likely to last for many years, if not a lifetime.”

The judge said Mr Yaxley-Lennon's defence that the “very serious” allegations were substantially true had not been proved, and he had used language “calculated to inflame the situation”.

“The defendant's contribution to this media frenzy was a deliberate effort to portray the claimant as being, far from an innocent victim, but in fact a violent aggressor,” he added.

At a further hearing, the judge granted an injunction against Mr Yaxley-Lennon preventing him from repeating the allegations.

The final damages and costs figures will be agreed and submitted to the High Court at forthcoming hearings to establish Mr Yaxley-Lennon's means and assets.

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon's repeated jailings down the years – including nine months for interfering with a trial of a sexual grooming gang – have failed to silence him. But a turning of the legal screw on his finances may have a more profound effect.

He made a small fortune from his provocative social media channels attacking Islam and Muslims – enough to fund a lifestyle that would be the envy of many, complete with a large country house.

The cash began to dry up as he was thrown off Facebook and Youtube and some of his wealthy benefactors in North American backed away. Today, his social media reach is a shadow of what it once was. It's never been clear how much he made and where it has all gone – and that's why this judgment is so important. Not only does it vindicate Jamal Hijazi – but it opens the door to a court examination of his finances and how he affords to keep his activities going.

Jamal Hijazi's lawyers welcomed the judgement and praised Mr Hijazi's “courage” in pursuing the claim.

Francesca Flood, from Burlingtons Legal, said: “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.”

During a trial in April, Catrin Evans QC, for Mr Hijazi, said that Mr Yaxley-Lennon's comments led to the teenager “facing death threats and extremist agitation” and that he should receive damages of between £150,000 and £190,000.

She described Mr Yaxley-Lennon as “a well-known extreme-right advocate” with an “anti-Muslim agenda” who used social media to spread his views.

His videos “turned Jamal into the aggressor and the bully into a righteous white knight”, she said.

Mr Yaxley-Lennon, who represented himself during the trial, 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.”

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.


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Tommy Robinson loses Jamal Hijazi libel case Thu, 22 Jul 2021 17:00:00 +0100-Anti-Islam activist could face hefty legal bill after false claims led to Jamal Hijazi receiving death threats.

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Tommy Robinson loses libel case brought by Syrian schoolboy

July 22, 2021

The anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson has 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, was sued by Jamal Hijazi after an incident in a school playground in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in October 2018.

Shortly after the video of the incident went viral, Robinson falsely claimed in Facebook videos viewed by nearly 1 million people that Hijazi was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school”.

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

In a high court judgment on Thursday, Mr Justice Matthew Nicklin said the consequences of Robinson’s falsehoods had been “particularly severe” for Hijazi, to whom he awarded £100,000 in damages.

The judge said Robinson had made Hijazi out to be “a violent aggressor” in the playground incident when he was in fact the victim.

The activist used language “calculated to inflame the situation”, Nicklin said, ultimately causing Hijazi to abandon his education and forcing his family to flee their home.

The teenager received death threats after becoming a target for the far right. Nicklin said the scars from the incident would “likely last for many years, if not a lifetime”.

Hijazi’s lawyers said they were delighted he had been “entirely vindicated”. 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, who represented himself during the four-day trial, argued his comments were substantially true, claiming to have “uncovered dozens of accounts of aggressive, abusive and deceitful behaviour” by Hijazi.

However, the judge ruled Robinson had failed to prove each of his seven claims and that “in reality … his evidence fell woefully short”.

The judgment leaves Robinson, who has previously been financially supported by right-leaning groups in the US, facing a heavy monetary penalty at a time when he claims to be bankrupt.

Robinson said he was “gobsmacked” by the costs Hijazi’s lawyers were claiming, which he said included £70,000 for taking witness statements. He added: “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.”

Nicklin acknowledged there were “limits on what can be enforced against him” as a result of Robinson’s bankruptcy, but ruled he should pay Hijazi’s legal costs, which were not stated in court.

Robinson remains one of the UK’s highest-profile rightwing campaigners despite being banned from mainstream social media and beset by legal problems. The Luton-born activist has previously received hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations from wealthy international backers as well as ordinary supporters.

The judge said he did not believe the filmed attack against Hijazi was racially motivated. Bailey McLaren, the boy seen attacking Hijazi in the clip, had been “catapulted into the maelstrom of a media storm” and was also a victim in the case, Nicklin said.

He added: “In such circumstances, it is hardly surprising if Bailey regarded the defendant as something of a saviour; someone who was prepared to help him in what must have been a low and very frightening point of his life. With the benefit of hindsight and maturity, Bailey may yet come to reflect on whether he has actually been helped by the defendant.”


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– July 22, 2021
Tommy Robinson loses Jamal Hijazi libel case

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