Tommy Robinson ‘secretly recorded school staff for libel defence’

EDL founder is being sued for libel by teenage Syrian refugee Jamal Hijazi

Peter Stubley
Monday 22 March 2021 16:32 GMT
Tommy Robinson was not legally represented for the preliminary hearing at the High Court
Tommy Robinson was not legally represented for the preliminary hearing at the High Court (PA)

Tommy Robinson secretly recorded conversations with school staff while trying to gather evidence to defend himself in a libel trial, the High Court has heard.

The English Defence League founder, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is being sued by a Syrian refugee after he accused the teenager of attacking young English girls.

Robinson, 38, made the claim after seeing a viral video of 16-year-old Jamal Hijazi being assaulted in Almondbury School playground in Huddersfield in November 2018.

In two Facebook videos he claimed Jamal was "not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school", adding that Jamal "beat a girl black and blue" and "threatened to stab" another boy at his school.

The teenager denies the allegations and is bringing a libel claim against Robinson, who is relying on a defence of truth.

Read more:

Robinson told a preliminary hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London that the secret recordings were necessary because staff were "scared to stand by me".

He told Mr Justice Nicklin: "If people were free to tell the truth, I wouldn't be standing here. Unfortunately, I felt I had to do this."

He claimed he had spent the last eight weeks in Huddersfield speaking to staff and pupils and that the secret conversations involved "people (who) have good jobs in the industry".

Judge Nicklin said: "These people, I suspect, will be shocked to find they have been secretly recorded and are now featuring in a High Court libel trial."

Robinson replied: "I needed to prove to people what they said.

"I've only secretly recorded people because the media are about to tell people I lied, that I made it up, but I need people to know I told the truth."

Robinson, who was not legally represented at the hearing, described himself in court as "the only journalist in the country reporting the truth".

He was jailed for contempt of court in 2019 after he interfered with the trial of a sexual grooming gang at Leeds Crown Court and is also facing a separate court hearing later this year for allegedly threatening an Independent journalist in an attempt to prevent the publication of a negative news story.

The libel trial is due to begin on 19 April.

Additional reporting by Press Association

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in