Bankrupt extremist Tommy Robinson ordered to pay £100,000 after libelling schoolboy

Syrian pupil was filmed being attacked at his British school and sued the right-wing leader after Facebook posts

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British right-wing extremist Tommy Robinson has been ordered to pay damages of £100,000 ($136,552) after branding a Syrian-born schoolboy a violent gang member who had attacked local girls.

Teenager Jamal Hijazi sued the founder of the far-right English Defence League after he claimed that the pupil was “not innocent” when a video went viral showing the boy being attacked at his school in northern England in October 2018.

Anti-Muslim advocate Mr Robinson claimed in Facebook posts seen by nearly a million people that Jamal had threatened to stab another boy and was responsible for other violent acts, including beating a girl “black and blue”. Robinson lost the libel battle on Thursday.

The boy’s lawyers said that the comments from Mr Robinson had a devastating effect on the schoolboy and his family who came to the UK as refugees from Homs, Syria.

The boy received death threats and “extremist agitation”, the boy’s lawyers claimed in court, and they asked for damages of up to £190,000.

There is no imminent prospect of the boy securing any of the damages, plus costs, after Mr Robinson — once the charismatic figurehead of the far right who raised money from supporters online — declared himself bankrupt.

“I’m gobsmacked by the whole costs thing,” he told the court via video link. “I haven’t got any money, I’m bankrupt.

“I have been struggling hugely with my own issues this last 12 months so I don’t know what the relevance of any of their costs are, to be honest, or the compensation, because I ain’t got it.”

Mr Justice Nicklin also ordered an injunction preventing Mr Robinson from repeating allegations that the boy committed acts of violence at his school in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, including attacking a pupil with a hockey stick.

The injunction was ordered after Mr Robinson told a hearing on Thursday that he had made a film commissioned by an American network about the saga. He had claimed at a previous four-day hearing in April that his comments were “substantially true”.

Updated: July 22, 2021, 8:49 PM
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