Tommy Robinson appears in High Court over ‘very serious allegations’ about Syrian child bullied in viral video

English Defence League founder says he will defend truth of his statements

Samuel Osborne
Friday 15 November 2019 09:53 GMT
Tommy Robinson supporters confront police after his sentencing

Tommy Robinson has appeared at the High Court over his comments about a Syrian refugee boy who was filmed being attacked at his school in Huddersfield.

A video showing Jamal Hijazi, then 16, being forced to the floor by a boy who said “I’ll drown you” while pouring water from a bottle into his mouth at Almondbury School provoked outrage and public sympathy last year.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, later posted a comment about the video on Facebook.

The English Defence League founder attended a preliminary hearing in London on Thursday, which set a timetable for a six-day libel trial to be heard at some point next year.

Jamal’s barrister Ian Helme told the court the claim was brought in relation to the aftermath of “the viral publication of a video last year in which Jamal was horrifically bullied at school”.

Mr Helme said “right-wing provocateur” Robinson, then published “two videos making very serious allegations against Jamal”.

The court heard Robinson would defend the truth of the statements he made about Jamal at trial.

His QC William Bennett said the case would come down to the “oral testimony of one witness against another”.

He said his client’s defence would focus on “those people who say they were assaulted by the claimant and the claimant’s denials that he assaulted them”.

In documents filed with the court on Robinson’s behalf, he alleges the attack on Jamal shown in the video was in retaliation for a threat made earlier that day.

The value of Jamal’s claim in damages is for up to £100,000.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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