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Judges order Tommy Robinson to pay Jamal Hijazi £100,000 ($138,000) after he was found to have defamed the Syrian schoolboy.
Judges sentenced British far-right figurehead Tommy Robinson to pay £100,000 ($138,000) to a Syrian schoolboy after he ruled Thursday that he had defamed the child.
Jamal Hijazi, 18, was attacked in October 2018 on the playground of Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield, Northern England.
Shortly after the video of the incident went viral, Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, claimed in two Facebook videos that Hijazi himself was a violent offender who “assaults young English girls at his school”.
In the clips, which were watched by nearly a million people, 38-year-old Robinson also claimed Hijazi “beat a girl black and blue” and “threaten to stab another boy” at his school. The charges were dismissed by the court on Thursday.
Representing himself, Robinson insisted his comments were broadly true, saying he had discovered “dozens of reports of aggressive, abusive and deceptive behavior” by Hijazi.
But Supreme Court Justice Matthew Nicklin said Robinson had failed to prove his allegations and ruled in Hijazi’s favor, awarding him £100,000 ($137,000) in damages, and ordering Robinson to pay costs that the PA had charged. news agency understands that these are over £500,000. ($689,000).
Hijazi’s lawyer, Catrin Evans, said the comments led to her client being threatened with death.
Nicklin said: “The defendant took on the burden of proving his allegations to be true. He failed. In reality, and for the reasons I have explained, his evidence fell woefully short. However, he has persisted with the serious allegations he originally made and even supplemented them during the proceedings.”
“The plaintiff has had to face them in the full glare and publicity of a Supreme Court trial. It is my responsibility to make clear that the Defendant has failed in its defense of the truth, to find in favor of the Plaintiff and award him damages that represent fair compensation.”
Another member of Hijazi’s legal team welcomed the decision as a justification.
“It took great courage from our client, Jamal Hijazi, to continue his libel action against such a prominent far-right and anti-Islam activist like Stephen Yaxley-Lennon,” said Francesca Flood.
“Jamal and his family now want to put this business behind them so they can move on with their lives. However, they would like to thank the general British public for their support and generosity, without which this legal action would not have been possible,” she added.
Nicklin said Hijazi had “particularly serious” consequences from the videos.
“The defendant’s allegations against the plaintiff were very serious and were widely publicized,” he said.
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