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TOMMY ROBINSON’S “racist invective” about a Syrian refugee who was filmed being attacked in a school playground led to the teenager and his family being targeted by “far-right activists,” the High Court heard today.
A video showing Jamal Hijazi, then 16, being pushed to the ground and threatened with drowning at Almondbury School in Huddersfield provoked outrage and a flood of public sympathy after it was widely shared online in November 2018.
English Defence League (EDL) founder Mr Robinson, 37, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, later commented about the incident in two Facebook videos, claiming that Mr Hijazi was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school.”
He also claimed that Mr Hijazi “beat a girl black and blue” and “threatened to stab” another boy at his school, allegations that the teenager “emphatically denies.”
Mr Hijazi is bringing a libel claim against Mr Robinson over the comments at the High Court in London.
At a preliminary hearing today, Mr Justice Nicklin was asked to determine the “natural and ordinary” meaning of Robinson’s statements.
Mr Hijazi’s barrister Ian Helme told the court that “the notorious far-right provocateur” Mr Robinson has accepted that the statements were “very seriously defamatory” of Mr Hijazi.
He said that Mr Robinson’s videos “led to targeting of the claimant and his family by far-right activists,” which forced them to leave the area.
Mr Helme said that the case served as a reminder that “sometimes words on social media have devastating, personal, real-world consequences.”
William Bennett QC asked the court to find that the meaning of the comments was that “the claimant has committed acts of violence against children,” a meaning he said Mr Robinson will prove to be substantially true.
Mr Justice Nicklin reserved his judgement.
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