Tommy Robinson has told the Supreme Court that he is “ neither racist nor anti-muslin ” as he fights a libel charge against a Syrian teenager he alleged assaulted girls.
The founder of the English Defense League, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is being charged by 17-year-old schoolboy Jamal Hijazi.
The teen was filmed getting beaten up at his Huddersfield school in October 2018.
Shortly after the video went viral, Robinson claimed in two Facebook videos that Mr Hijazi was “not innocent and that he violently assaults young English girls at his school.”
Robinson, who represents himself at the trial, defends his comments because they are essentially true.
Tommy Robinson (pictured), the founder of the English Defense League whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is being prosecuted by 17-year-old schoolboy Jamal Hijazi.
In his written arguments, Robinson claimed to have discovered “dozens of records of aggressive, abusive and deceptive behavior” by Mr. Hijazi.
He said people who donated nearly £ 160,000 to a GoFundMe page set up for the plaintiff felt it was important for people to have a ‘balanced view’.
Robinson began his case Thursday, telling the Supreme Court that Mr Hijazi’s attorneys had mischaracterized him and the EDL.
Robinson said, “Their opening statement, which was a blatant attack on my character, is boringly predictable.”
The 38-year-old told the court that the EDL had been identified as a centrist group and that he had worked with an anti-extremism group for five years.
“For what it’s worth, I am not a racist, and I am certainly not an anti-Muslim,” he said.
Mr Hijazi (pictured) was filmed as he was beaten up at his Huddersfield school in October 2018. Shortly after the video went viral, Robinson claimed in two Facebook videos that Mr Hijazi was ‘not innocent and that he violently assaults young English girls at his school’
Robinson later said the media had been in a ‘frenzy’ over the incident with Mr Hijazi and had not reported ‘the other side’.
He added: ‘I only reported what I was told. That’s all I’m doing here in this court, looking for the truth. ‘
In the Facebook videos, watched by nearly a million people, Robinson claimed, among other things, that Mr. Hijazi “ hit a girl black and blue, ” which the teenager denies.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court heard evidence from Bailey McLaren, the boy who pushed hijazi to the ground and poured water on him in the widely shared video.
Mr Hijazi (pictured) arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice, London, where he sues Tommy Robinson
A video of 16-year-old Jamal being pushed to the ground and ‘waterboarded’ on his school’s playground in Huddersfield was shared nationally in November 2018.
SCHOOLBOY AT SCHOOL WITH RACIST ABUSE IN ‘BULLY CAMPAIGN’
In his testimony, Jamal Hijazi said that at the age of 13, he joined the Almondbury Community School in the city, with very poor English, and was greeted with hostility by some other students.
He wrote: ‘I had a lot of problems when I was in school, including a bullying campaign and attempts by other students to make me unhappy, so I would go home.
‘I was being abused that I did not understand at first.
My Syrian friend explained to me what these words meant and suggested reporting these incidents to a teacher because the names were racist.
‘Below I refer to a gang of students who regularly bullied me. They often called me aggressively “P ** i”, “Syrian” or “immigrant”. ‘
Jamal said the attack in the viral video was not isolated and described other incidents, including the knife threat in November 2017.
He said his sister Fariha was also bullied, citing an incident where her hijab was deliberately removed by another student.
Jamal also said in his statement that he had ‘no idea’ about Robinson before the Facebook videos were made.
He added: ‘His job has been explained to me by both my litigation friend and my attorneys, but I still don’t quite understand what he is doing.
“I understand that part of what he does is create content and the more attention he gets, the more money and support he can get.”
Mr. McLaren, who is now 18 and was a student of Mr. Hijazi at Almondbury Community School, told the court that he had had problems at school but was not a bully.
He said, ‘I would say if I was physical I should be provoked into it. There should be a reason and it should be a strong reason. ‘
Robinson asked, “Were you a bully, looking at your school record?”
The teenager replied, “No. I can’t stand bullying – I was affected by it from an early age. The mainstream media showed that I was a bully. ‘
“Are you a racist?” Robinson asked.
Mr. McLaren replied, “Not at all. The incident with Mr. Hijazi had nothing to do with race. ‘
In his testimony, Mr. McLaren claimed that Mr. Hijazi was “a strange boy.”
He wrote: ‘Students and staff alike were well aware that Mr Hijazi had a real problem with girls and even with female staff, and that he insulted them. You would hear from time to time Jamal teasing young girls and stuff. ‘
On the day of the incident in October 2018, Mr. McLaren told the court that there had been a showdown between him and Mr. Hijazi, adding, “ He told me ‘f *** off, you white bastard’. ”
Mr. McLaren also said he had been told by another student that Mr. Hijazi had threatened to stab him, which is denied.
On Wednesday, Mr. Hijazi Catrin Evans QC’s attorney described Robinson’s defense as “ a cobblestone mix of generalized smears of Jamal’s character, ” saying that “ the defendant’s defense of the truth simply has no merit. ”
During a cross-examination on Thursday afternoon, Ms. Evans said Mr. McLaren was “in regular trouble” for serious bullying, including intimidation and physical assault.
Mr. McLaren said, “I’m not trying to pretend I’m an angel, I’ve had incidents at school. I agree that I am quite hot-headed, but I have changed. ‘
The court heard that he was permanently locked out and accepted a police action for assaulting Mr. Hijazi.
Ms. Evans suggested that Mr. McLaren was part of a gang of students who often targeted Mr. Hijazi.
She said, “Jamal was one of your regular victims of bullying and you were the leader of the group that bullied him.”
Mr. McLaren said, “I think if anyone was the bully, it was Jamal.”
The process continues.