Tommy Robinson claimed he ‘suffered from mental health issues because he was harassed’ and said the legal proceedings were ‘boring c**p’ after he was taken to court for not paying at a Syrian boy £43,000 in damages.
Robinson, 39, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was due to appear in the same court on March 22 for unpaid legal fees after losing a defamation case brought against him by Jamal Hijazi last year.
But he failed to appear for the hearing and the case was referred to a High Court judge, who ordered the founder of the English Defense League to appear in court today.
As he walked into the Royal Courts of Justice in London this morning, Robinson described the hearing as ‘c**p boring’.
And Oliver McEntee, representing the far-right activist at the hearing, told the court he faced mental health issues from the harassment and could provide medical evidence to support the claims.
He said: “My client is, for better or worse, kind of a notorious figure. He says he was harassed.
“These cases led to his divorce two years ago and he has been suffering ever since.”
Mr McEntee added: “Mr Yaxley-Lennon says, to put it bluntly, that he was simply not in a state of mind to appear in court due to the outcome of the health problems mental health and the harassment he faced.”
Tommy Robinson (pictured) arriving at the Royal Courts Of Justice in London, to appear for a contempt of court hearing today
Two men appeared to be filming the English Defense League founder on their phones as he walked into court
He was surrounded by three men, one of whom was vaping and the other two appeared to be filming him
Robinson smiled at photographers as he headed to the High Court to face potential contempt of court action after failing to appear for a hearing in March
The lawyer said he would produce evidence for the contempt proceedings, including a letter from a GP.
Judge Nicklin said: ‘There has been a history of communication difficulties with Mr Lennon, he can be a very difficult man to contact.
“In the modern era of email communications, that shouldn’t be difficult.”
The High Court judge said Robinson is expected to attend a full hearing in August to decide whether he was in contempt of court, where he could provide evidence of his medical issues.
Ordering Robinson to return, Judge Nicklin added: “If he did not appear again, it would be an aggravating factor if the court ultimately found that he had no lawful excuse for not appearing on March 22.”
Robinson will also have to return to the Royal Courts of Justice on June 9 for initial questioning about his finances.
The EDL founder was pictured arriving at court this morning wearing a gray overcoat over a black t-shirt with gray jeans and was surrounded by three tall men – two of whom appeared to be filming him as he smiled at photographers .
Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope not Hate, said after the hearing: “For those of us who have worked for justice for the teenage victim of Robinson’s vile vitriol, Jamal Hijazi, the presence of Tommy Robinson in court today is a step in the right direction Jamal and his family deserve justice.
“We believe Tommy Robinson is hiding at least £3million in assets and have collected enough evidence to prove it.
“We look forward to seeing this case move forward and will continue to work tirelessly to try to ensure that Jamal and his family see Robinson pay.”
Following the success of Mr Hijazi’s defamation case, Judge Nicklin ordered Robinson to pay him damages of £100,000. Mr Hijazi’s legal costs are said to be around £500,000.
In the subpoena issued last month, Judge Nicklin warned that Robinson could be arrested if he did not appear in court today.
Today’s hearing comes after Robinson was successfully prosecuted by Mr Hijazi after the then 15-year-old was assaulted at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in October 2018.
In a short video of the incident, which received nearly a million views, Robinson claimed in two Facebook videos that Mr Hijazi was ‘not innocent and violently attacks young English girls at his school “.
Justice Nicklin found the claims to be false following a trial.
After a preliminary hearing for the defamation case in November 2020, Robinson was ordered to pay over £43,000 in court costs.
But he declared bankruptcy four months later, which the court has since heard was released.
In February, lawyers for Mr Hijazi successfully sought an order requiring Robinson to return to the High Court to answer questions about his finances.
Ian Helme, representing the teenager, told the court there was information “that what is stated in his bankruptcy petition is not a full account of (Robinson’s) assets”.
It came after Robinson was jailed after being found in contempt of court when he filmed men accused of sexually exploiting young girls and live-streaming the footage to Facebook, in violation of a ban on report, at Leeds Crown Court in May 2018.
He was jailed for 13 months after being found in contempt of court on the day of the broadcast, but served two months in prison before being released after the contempt conviction was overturned by the Court of call in August 2018.
The case was then referred to the Attorney General and he was imprisoned again in July 2019.