LONDON — Tommy Robinson, a British far-right activist, misplaced a libel case on Thursday filed by a teenage refugee from Syria who had been filmed being attacked at his college, after Mr. Robinson falsely claimed the boy had himself violently attacked classmates.
Mr. Robinson might be required to pay 100,000 kilos in damages, round $137,000, based on the judgment handed down by Justice Matthew Nicklin throughout a distant session in London’s High Court. He additionally ordered Mr. Robinson to pay the teenager’s authorized prices, that are more likely to be bigger than the damages.
Mr. Robinson, 38, whose actual identify is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was the founding father of the English Defense League, a nationalist group identified for its anti-Islam and anti-immigration stance and for violent avenue protests. Despite being seen as on the fringes of British life, he has additionally turn out to be a distinguished determine internationally for supporters of comparable ideologies, with hyperlinks to the far proper in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.
The teenager, Jamal Hijazi, now 17, was filmed being attacked at his college in northern England in October 2018, and after the video unfold on-line, Mr. Robinson claimed in two movies posted on his Facebook web page that the teenager was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school.”
In one of many clips, Mr. Robinson had mentioned that the teenager “beat a girl black and blue” and “threatened to stab” a boy at his college, which Mr. Hijazi denied. His two posts in regards to the video had been collectively considered greater than 1,000,000 occasions, based on court docket paperwork.
Mr. Robinson represented himself on the trial, arguing that his feedback had been substantively true. But the court docket decided on Thursday that Mr. Robinson’s proof “fell woefully short” of proving any of his allegations.
Mr. Hijazi got here to Britain together with his household in 2016 as refugees from the town of Homs in Syria, based on court docket paperwork. His legal professionals argued that the posts by Mr. Robinson had a devastating impression on the teenager and had led to dying threats.
In his resolution, Justice Nicklin reaffirmed that concept, noting that Mr. Hijazi “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 choose decided that Mr. Robinson’s posts had been “calculated to inflame the situation,” after the preliminary video of the assault on Mr. Hijazi turned a spotlight of public dialogue in Britain.
Scars from what Mr. Robinson had accomplished, and notably its results on Mr. Hijazi’s training, had been more likely to final “for many years, if not a lifetime,” the choose added.
Reacting to the choice, Francesca Flood, one of many legal professionals representing Mr. Hijazi, mentioned that the agency was “delighted that Jamal has been entirely vindicated.”
“Jamal and his family now wish to put this matter behind them in order that they can get on with their lives,” she mentioned in an announcement. “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.”
The court docket additionally granted an injunction in opposition to Mr. Robinson ordering him to not submit or publish related allegations in opposition to Mr. Hijazi. The choose mentioned that based mostly on statements Mr. Robinson had made in court docket, the activist meant to “repeat a large part of the evidence that has been heard in this trial and the allegations” made in opposition to the teenager.
After the choice was handed down, Mr. Robinson advised the choose that his personal monetary struggles would make it inconceivable to pay the required court docket prices, or most likely the damages.
“The cost is shocking,” he mentioned. “The other point is, I don’t have any money, I’m bankrupt. I’ve struggled hugely with my own issues these past 12 months.”
Mr. Robinson additionally mentioned that he had lately made a movie with an American broadcaster that revisited the incident and requested whether or not the injunction would have an effect on that, to which the choose mentioned he was not there to supply recommendation on the legality of the movie.
Mr. Robinson is not any stranger to England’s authorized system. He has a number of previous legal convictions, together with for violence, public order offenses, disobeying court docket orders and fraud. In 2019, he was discovered responsible of contempt of court docket and jailed after filming outdoors a court docket in Leeds which had a information media blackout.
He has served 4 stints in jail and has been banned from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for breaching the social media platforms’ tips.
Facebook, in a 2019 weblog submit, defined that it had eliminated his accounts after posts that “violate our policies around organized hate.”