Syrian refugee, 16, who was filmed being ‘waterboarded’ by school bullies is suing Facebook ‘for not stopping Tommy Robinson posting accusations he violently attacked three English girls’
- Syrian refugee Jamal, 16, is going to sue Facebook over claims made about him
- Refugee was allegedly ‘waterboarded’ by a school bully in a shocking incident
- EDL founder Tommy Robinson made claims on the social media site about Jamal
- In a series of videos, Robinson claimed that Jamal attacked three girls and a boy
The Syrian refugee who was allegedly ‘waterboarded’ by a school bully is taking legal action against Facebook over claims he attacked English girls.
Lawyers acting for 16-year-old Jamal are preparing to sue the internet giant for allowing English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson to peddle false accusations about him on its site.
In a highly unusual case, Facebook stands accused of allowing Robinson to make a series of poisonous rants about Jamal because the far-Right activist’s popularity makes the company money. The boy’s legal team says the social media company was ‘fully aware of the reckless and pernicious nature’ of Robinson’s videos and has ‘profited from defamation’.
Syrian refugee Jamal, 16, was ‘waterboarded’ by a school bully and is now set to take legal action against Facebook
They have also launched legal proceedings against Robinson for falsely claiming that Jamal attacked three girls and a boy.
Two months ago, shocking footage emerged of Jamal being headbutted and dragged to the ground by the neck before his attacker threatens ‘to drown him’ by pouring a bottle of water over his face as fellow pupils at Almondbury Community School, just outside Huddersfield, cheer.
Theresa May said she was horrified by the callous attack on the refugee who had sought sanctuary from the horrors of war-torn Syria. But Robinson, who was made a political adviser to Ukip days earlier, poured scorn on the sympathy shown to Jamal.
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Just hours after the video of the attack spread across the internet, Robinson claimed Jamal, then 15, was ‘not innocent’ and had previously terrorised other classmates.
In one Facebook video, Robinson, 36, said: ‘A young girl was beaten badly by Muslim girls. While those Muslim girls were beating her up, Jamal was involved in kicking and biting her. She was bitten, she was black and blue.’
He added: ‘He’s not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls at school. He beat the s*** out of an English kid.’
In the disturbing footage, the attacker threatens ‘to drown him’ by pouring a bottle of water over his face as fellow pupils at Almondbury Community School, just outside Huddersfield, cheer
Robinson even told his 1 million followers on Facebook that the case went to court, but a spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said they were not aware of any such reports, and Robinson later admitted he had been duped.
But by then the videos had been watched more than a million times. Some of the footage can still be found online.
In an exclusive interview with the Mail, Jamal said: ‘I felt scared that people would think wrong about me because I hit girls when I didn’t. I was scared because I feared people would attack me more because they would be believing in what Tommy Robinson said about me.
In his Facebook post, Robinson claimed Jamal had attacked three English girls
‘I cannot go to my school any more and there are people who hang around outside my house and video me on their phones. They call me “little rat” if I go outside. One of my neighbours threatened me outside my house just yesterday.’
Jamal’s solicitor, Tasnime Akunjee, of Farooq Bajwa and Co Solicitors in London, is also preparing a legal case against Facebook for allowing the videos to be shared on its site. He said: ‘Facebook was fully aware of the reckless and pernicious nature of Robinson’s posts.
‘But it looks like Facebook has given him a special status. He was treated differently than the normal Facebook user. They have made editorial decisions about his posts and therefore became responsible and are in partnership with him.’
Mr Akunjee said the ‘special treatment seems to be financially driven’ and went against their regulations over defamatory content.’
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, lives in a six-bedroom £950,000 house in a quaint Bedfordshire village. The gated property is registered in the name of his wife, Jenna Lennon, who he married in 2011 after a decade together. They have three children.
In January 2014, Robinson was jailed for mortgage fraud. He served six months in prison while a confiscation order required him to pay £125,000.
Jamal’s legal team has accused Facebook of allowing Robinson to make a series of poisonous rants about Jamal because the far-Right activist’s popularity makes the company money
Robinson has deleted some of the videos about Jamal, saying: ‘I have been completely had, how embarrassing, man.’
After Jamal was attacked, more than 10,000 people donated about £150,000 to help relocate the boy and his family to a house outside Huddersfield. The family will receive the money when they find a suitable house. None of the funds will be used for legal battles against Facebook or Robinson.
Jamal’s legal team has set up a crowdfunding website. To donate, visit crowdjustice.com/ case/jamalrobinsondefamation
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