A British activist was ordered to pay £ 100,000 in compensation to a Syrian refugee for defaming him on Facebook.
Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, better known as Tommy Robinson, is the founder of the far-right England Defense League.
In October 2018, he responded online to a viral video in which Jamal Hijazi, then 15, was attacked by classmates at his school in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
In two subsequent videos, which were watched by at least 950,000 people and shared 25,000 times, Robinson falsely claimed that the teenager had previously attacked “young English women” at his school.
IN judgment Published Thursday, the High Court rejected Robinson’s arguments in defense of the truth, finding that he “regrettably” failed to prove his claims and “even added to them during the proceedings.”
Judge Nicklin ordered Robinson to pay Hijazi £ 100,000 in damages, as well as legal costs believed to be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Jamal Hijazi came to the UK with his family in October 2016 as part of the UK government’s Syrian refugee resettlement program.
In a statement, he said that after the videos were posted, he received a flurry of insults and unwanted contacts on social media, which forced him to stop using his real name.
The police ordered the Hijazi family to keep all doors and windows locked when he was alone in the house. But in the end, he said, “it was unsafe even to go to local stores without receiving verbal abuse.”
“My family and I were forced to move from Huddersfield to another part of the country to avoid risks to me and the safety of my family. This caused me and my family a lot of grief and sadness as we did not live long in the United Kingdom.”
He also had to quit his job at a local pharmacist after leaving Huddersfield and was unable to take GCSE exams.
“The defendant is responsible for this damage,” said Justice Nicklin, “some of the scars that, in particular, affected the plaintiff’s education, are likely to persist for years, if not a lifetime.”
Robinson told the court that he was bankrupt at the time of the trial, despite having previously received hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations from right-wing groups in the UK.
He was jailed twice for contempt of court for filming a UK courthouse and publishing biased statements during criminal trials involving Muslim accused.