Tommy Robinson to defend himself in court because he ‘can’t afford a lawyer’

Joanna Taylor
·2 min read
 (PA)
(PA)

Tommy Robinson will represent himself in an upcoming libel trial because he “can’t afford a lawyer”, the High Court has heard.

The English Defence League founder, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, said he owes his former solicitor “quite a bit of money”, so “she’s not representing me”.

Robinson is being sued by Jamal Hijazi, a Syrian refugee, whom Robinson claimed was “not innocent” after a video of the then 16-year-old being attacked in a school playground went viral in November 2018.

Hijazi was filmed being pushed to the ground and threatened with drowning at Almondbury School in Huddersfield.

Robinson discussed the incident in two Facebook videos, claiming that Hijazi was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls at his school”. He also said that the teenager “beat a girl black and blue” and “threatened to stab” another boy at his school.

Robinson is relying on a defence of truth against the charge of libel, claiming he can “100% prove” his statements.

At a preliminary hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, he asked for more time to prepare witness statements to support his case.

He claimed that he was stopped while trying to gather evidence in Huddersfield by West Yorkshire Police and that they confiscated his phone, which contained potential witness’s phone numbers, until the weekend.

Robinson also claimed that some of his potential witnesses would only give evidence anonymously as they didn’t want to be “associated with myself in the court case”.

He spoke of the difficulty the upcoming case has had on him “mentally” at the hearing, claiming that “matters to do with this case resulted in the breakdown of my marriage and I’ve not been in a great place”.

Ian Helme, Hijazi’s barrister, wrote in a written submission that his client “has had to live with” Robinson’s allegations “hanging over him for a very long time”.

“Given the defence of truth, vindication is essential,” he added.

Robinson was given until next Friday to file all of the witness statements he intends to rely on ahead of a pre-trial review at the end of March.

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