There were few tears shed at The London Economic when Tommy Robinson was ordered to pay £100,000 to a Syrian schoolboy who was filmed being attacked at school, after the English Defence League founder lost a libel case.
Robinson – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – was sued by Jamal Hijazi, 18, who was assaulted in the playground at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield in October 2018.
Shortly after the video of the incident went viral, Robinson claimed in two Facebook videos that Mr Hijazi was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school”.
In the clips, viewed by nearly a million people, 38-year-old Robinson also claimed Mr Hijazi “beat a girl black and blue” and “threatened to stab” another boy at his school, allegations which were rejected as false by Mr Justice Nicklin in a judgment on Thursday.
The judge ruled in Mr Hijazi’s favour and granted him £100,000 in damages, as well as ordering Robinson to pay costs which the PA news agency understands to be more than £500,000.
Mr Justice Nicklin said Robinson caused Hijazi to become “the target of abuse which ultimately led to him and his family having to leave their home, and the claimant to have to abandon his education.
“The defendant is responsible for this harm, some of the scars of which, particularly the impact on the claimant’s education, are likely last for many years, if not a lifetime.”
He added that Robinson used language “calculated to inflame the situation”.
“The defendant’s contribution to this media frenzy was a deliberate effort to portray the claimant as being, far from an innocent victim, but in fact a violent aggressor,” he added.
Jamal Hijazi’s lawyer, Francesca Flood, added: “It took great courage for our client, Jamal Hijazi, to pursue his libel action against such a prominent far-right and anti-Islam activist as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, better known as Tommy Robinson.
“We are delighted that Jamal has been entirely vindicated.
“Jamal and his family now wish to put this matter behind them in order that they can get on with their lives.
“They do, however, wish to extend their gratitude to the great British public for their support and generosity, without which this legal action would not have been possible.”
Responding to the verdict, a lot of people were in a celebratory mood.
Here’s what people had to say:
Words have consequences— nazir afzal (@nazirafzal) July 22, 2021
Don’t they Mr Yaxley-Lennon?
100,000 of them https://t.co/SqPfiCkFUo
Stephen “Tommy Robinson” Yaxley Lennon loses libel case. £100k compensation and costs pic.twitter.com/4DEEIHfQXr— Ant (@M0kujin) July 22, 2021
Good. Being a dick has consequences.https://t.co/FcFvQJlJpF— Dr Ben Janaway (@drjanaway) July 22, 2021
Tommy Robinson has to pay £100,000 in damages to a refugee.— Northern Independence Party ?? (@FreeNorthNow) July 22, 2021
The news can be pretty awful these days, but sometimes – just sometimes – Tommy Robinson is forced to donate six figures to a refugee https://t.co/G2Yjg0Olr0— James Felton (@JimMFelton) July 22, 2021
When I spoke with one of Jamal’s lawyers in March, she said they expected the total amount of damages and legal costs to be “in excess of £500,000” –– is this the end for Tommy Robinson? Can you run a campaign with no money and almost no platform? https://t.co/ya1FYV3oXC— Jane Bradley (@jane__bradley) July 22, 2021
Stephen Lennon’s lies finally catch up with him. He’s a criminal, a far right Islamophobic extremist, and now he’s lost a massive libel trial. https://t.co/R8Qo4ywa4e— HOPE not hate (@hopenothate) July 22, 2021
British justice: The price of hate for Stephen Yaxley Lennon aka Tommy Robinson is the £100,000 he must pay a Syrian refugee https://t.co/FvtTs1VRKV— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) July 22, 2021
first Katie Hopkins is deported from Australia, then Tommy Robinson has to pay £100K libel costs ?— dave ❄️ ? ? (@davemacladd) July 22, 2021
….next up: Jacob Rees Mogg gets fired into a giant custard pie
HOW FANTASTIC- feeble fascist failure Tommy Robinson GUILTY of libelling Syrian schoolboy! He caused this family years of fear & harassment, and now has to pay them £100K!— Dr Louise Raw (@LouiseRawAuthor) July 22, 2021
Congratulations to them on their incredible courage, & to legal team and all anti fascists involved pic.twitter.com/PDOWnHLOOb
But who will pick up the bill raises some troubling issues?
Now he’s lost his libel case, people are joking ‘Tommy Robinson’ will be on GBNews trying to raise money. Sounds like a joke, until you realise Farage’s big backer Steve Bannon called Yaxley-Lennon “the backbone of Britain”.— Peter Jukes (@peterjukes) July 22, 2021