Syrian teen suing Tommy Robinson seeks up to £190,000 in damages
The teen said that Robinson's claims had "badly damaged" his career prospects
A Syrian teenager is suing Tommy Robinson for libel and is seeking between £150,000 and £190,000 in damages, the High Court has heard.
17-year-old Jamal Hijazi was filmed being attacked at his school in Huddersfield in October 2018, and the video subsequently went viral, However Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, claimed in videos on his Facebook page that Jamal was "not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls at his school." The teen denied the claims.
Robinson, who founded the far-right English Defence League 2009, represented himself at the trial, and defended his comments on the basis that they were substantially true.
Jamal's lawyer, Catrin Evans QC, said in her written closing argument there should be "substantial damages" between £150,000 and £190,000 paid to the teen if he wins the claim.
She told the court, per the Independent: “In relation to the allegations, which the defendant has sought to prove as substantially true, we suggest that he has not proved either of them.”
Monday was the last day of the four-day trial.
Robinson argued in the trial that he was an independent journalist, telling the court: "The media simply had zero interest in the other side of this story, the uncomfortable truth.
"I am far from perfect, however this case is not about me, as much as the claimant’s representatives would like to make me, my history or my views a focus of their attention.
"My political beliefs are not on trial, it’s whether my reporting on publicly available information was a matter of truth or not."
Giving evidence as part of Robinson's defence, a former student of the school claimed that Jamal had once hit her in the back with a hockey stick. 18-year-old Charly Mathews said that this had left her with long-term injuries.
Robinson told the court that it would have to believe that Mathews was a "brazen liar" in order to judge in favour of the claimant.
However, Ms Evans argued in her closing statement that Robinson lacked evidence to back his claims, whilst Jamal had given "clear and consistent evidence" throughout the trial.
She said that Robinson's anti-Muslim "agenda" was the reason he "waded into this."
“Not only has the defendant sought to try and prove a case that he was never going to be able to do, but he has even, in his closing submissions, he has continued to exacerbate the hurt and distress the claimant has experienced,” she added.
Jamal himself gave evidence in the trial as well. He said that his prospects for education and a good career had been "badly damaged" by the 38-year-old's claims.
The judge, Mr Justice Nicklin, told the court he will give his judgement at a later date.
He did however commend Robinson for presenting his case "as a litigant in person." Mr Nicklin said it had been done in a way that "to my mind, [has been] quite proper and you have done your best to assist the court."