Tommy Robinson spent £100,000 gambling before declaring bankruptcy

The English Defence League founder told the court he was ‘disaster with paperwork’

Thomas Kingsley
Friday 10 June 2022 14:59 BST
Tommy Robinson gave evidence about his finances after he lost a libel case brought by a Syrian teenager, Jamal Hijaz
Tommy Robinson gave evidence about his finances after he lost a libel case brought by a Syrian teenager, Jamal Hijaz (PA)

Far-right activist Tommy Robinson spent £100,000 gambling before declaring bankruptcy, the High Court heard.

Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, gave evidence about his finances after losing a libel case to Syrian teenager Jamal Hijazi after defaming him online.

He told the court he owed £160,000 to HM Revenue and Customs when he declared himself bankrupt last year, but later said this was an estimate.

Appearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, he said that at one point he was spending about £100,000 on gambling in casinos and online. He described how he wasted money on “drink, alcohol, partying” while receiving thousands of pounds in donations from supporters.

Robinson said that in 2020 he received about £1,000 a month from supporters and at times that figure was between £3,000 and £4,000.

Robinson said he suffered a ‘mental breakdown’ over his finances
Robinson said he suffered a ‘mental breakdown’ over his finances (PA)

He was asked about claims in his bankruptcy form that he owed a debt of £323,000 to Bedfordshire businessman Christopher Johnson.

The English Defence League founder told the court that the “successful businessman” had “cash, a lot of cash” but the pair fell out and the relationship “went pretty sour” and it “wasn't realistic” to pay him back.

Responding to questions about the build-up to his bankruptcy in March 2021, he said he was a “total mess” and had “suffered a total mental breakdown for two or three years”.

He added: “I owe loads of money. Can't get out of it.”

He said that for some of the time he was “sofa surfing” between about seven different addresses, adding that he was not currently living in the UK and returned only when he was working.

Asked about a claim in his 2009 book Enemy of the State that he owned seven properties, but six of them were in his wife's name, he said: “I had a ghost writer that helped me with the book.

Syrian teenager Jamal Hijazi won his libel claim against Robinson
Syrian teenager Jamal Hijazi won his libel claim against Robinson (PA)

“I like to give off that I am a successful man when I am not.”

The current case is the result of a £43,293 fee Robinson owed from a court order made in December 2020.

Jamal Hijazi was assaulted at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield in October 2018. After the incident, which went viral, Robinson made false claims about Mr Hijazi, leading to the libel case.

Since losing the claim, Robinson has been ordered to pay £100,000 in damages to Mr Hijazi and further significant legal costs, thought to be around £500,000.

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