Tommy Robinson loses pre-trial ruling on 'libel' of teenage Syrian refugee
A British judge has ruled that remarks made by far-right activist Tommy Robinson about a Syrian teenager amounted to accusations that the refugee had "participated in a violent assault on a young girl" and "threatened to stab another child".
The comments in question were made by Robinson in two videos posted to his Facebook page in November 2018, after a video emerged of then 16-year-old Jamal Hijazi being assaulted by a fellow pupil at the Almondbury Community school in Huddersfield.
In the video, Hijazi was pushed to the ground and threatened with drowning.
High Court Justice Matthew Nicklin said in his interim ruling on the libel case that the "natural and ordinary meaning" of Robinson's remarks related to a "specific allegation of violent conduct".
Thirty-seven-year-old Robinson had claimed in the posts that Hijazi was "not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school".
The case will now go to trial, but no date has been set for the proceedings.
Mr Justice Nicklin also rejected Hijazi's lawyers' claim that Robinson's words were would be understood to suggest the teenager had participated in "incidents of violence beyond the particular acts that were identified" in the videos.
"The viewer would recognise that the defendant was making a specific allegation of violent conduct against the claimant," Nicklin said.
Nicklin stated in his ruling: "It is important to note that the court is only dealing with the issue of meaning. The defendant has advanced a defence of truth. Unless the parties resolve the litigation, that issue [and others] will be determined at a later trial."
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, founded the far-right English Defence League (EDL) and has prior convictions for drugs and assault.
In 2019, he was sentenced to nine months in jail after a court declared him guilty of contempt of court.