High Court to hear Syrian refugee's libel case against Tommy Robinson

12 March 2020, 05:29

The case against Tommy Robinson was brought after a video of Jamal Hijaz went viral
The case against Tommy Robinson was brought after a video of Jamal Hijaz went viral. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A libel case against Tommy Robinson over comments he made about a Syrian refugee who was filmed being attacked in a school playground will be heard in the High Court.

Robinson attended a preliminary hearing in November, which set a timetable for a six-day trial which will start on Thursday.

The case centres around a video showing Jamal Hijazi, then 16, being pushed to the ground and threatened with drowning at Almondbury School in Huddersfield.

When it was shared online the video provoked outrage and a flood of public sympathy in November 2018.

The English Defence League founder Robinson, 37, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, later commented about the video on Facebook.

Mr Justice Nicklin will be asked to determine the meaning of Robinson's statements at a preliminary hearing in London on Thursday.

At a previous hearing, Jamal's barrister Ian Helme told the court that the claim was brought in relation to the aftermath of "the viral publication of a video ... in which Jamal was horrifically bullied at school".

Mr Helme added that Robinson, who he described as "a right-wing provocateur", then published "two videos making very serious allegations against Jamal".

The barrister said Jamal was "a schoolboy and a Syrian refugee who has faced horrific bullying at school", adding that the effect of the videos was that he "now has his nascent reputation trashed to one million people".

Robinson's case will be heard in London's High Court
Robinson's case will be heard in London's High Court. Picture: PA

At that hearing, William Bennett QC, for Robinson, said the case would come down to the "oral testimony of one witness against another".

He added that 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 in June, he alleges that the attack on Jamal shown in the video was in retaliation for a threat made earlier that same day.

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