'Total mess': Tommy Robinson blew £100K gambling and has been refused bank accounts

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·4-min read
Tommy Robinson leaves the Royal Courts Of Justice in London. He is to give evidence about his finances after he lost a libel case brought by a Syrian teenager Jamal Hijazi. Picture date: Thursday June 9, 2022.
Tommy Robinson was in court for failing to pay £43K after losing a libel case brought by Syrian teenager Jamal Hijazi. (PA)

Tommy Robinson spent £100,000 on gambling in the two years before he declared bankruptcy, he has told the High Court.

The English Defence League founder is facing questions over his finances after losing a libel case brought by Syrian teenager Jamal Hijazi.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was ordered to pay £43,293 in legal costs after a pre-trial hearing in the libel case in November 2020.

However, after the sum was not paid, Mr Hijazi’s lawyers successfully applied for an order requiring Robinson to return to court to answer questions about his finances.

Robinson failed to attend court to be questioned in March 2022 but appeared at a hearing in London on Thursday.

Tommy Robinson speaks as he leaves the Royal Courts Of Justice in London, after appearing for a contempt of court hearing. The English Defence League founder, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, failed to appear on March 22 in connection with unpaid legal bills after he lost a libel case brought against him by Syrian teenager Jamal Hijazi last year. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2022.
The English Defence League founder is facing questions over his finances. (PA)

During his afternoon answering questions, he told the court that in a two-year period prior to declaring bankruptcy, he spent around £100,000 on gambling – largely in casinos.

“I sold a property, received the money and I spent it,” he said.

At another point, Robinson claimed he owed £160,000 to HM Revenue and Customs but later said this was an estimate.

Robinson later admitted he has "been a disaster with paperwork and finance from day dot", when pressed on whether that figure was accurate.

At a hearing last month, Robinson told the High Court he had missed the March hearing because of mental health issues caused by being harassed.

On Thursday, he said he had also suffered a mental breakdown prior to his bankruptcy, telling the court: “I was a mess, a total mess, a total mess suffering from PTSD.”

He also said he had struggled to get a bank account and now used an online company he refused to name.

“I’ve been closed by NatWest, I’ve been closed by HSBC…Lloyds closed me down as well.”

EDL founder Tommy Robinson leads Brexit supporters at the
EDL founder Tommy Robinson (pictured in 2018) is admitted he cannot get bank accounts due to his finances. (PA)

After questions about his tax returns, Robinson told the High Court that he had not contacted either his accountant or HMRC prior to Thursday’s hearing.

Discussing his accountant, Robinson said: “He’s not my best mate, I owe him money…I haven’t spoken to him.”

He was also quizzed over a claim he made in his book "Enemy Of The State" that when the EDL was founded in 2009, there were seven properties in his or his then-wife’s name.

Robinson said: “I had a ghost-writer that helped me with the book. I like to give off the impression that I’m a successful man even when I’m not.”

He later appeared to accept that there were not seven properties, shrugging when asked if the book was untrue and saying he had written the book years ago.

Later, Robinson told the court he previously received a salary while working for Canadian site Rebel Media and now works for a website called Urban Scoop.

Asked about the money he received from this site, Robinson said: “You want the truth? I haven’t received any money recently because they have not got any, I think they are borrowing money.”

Robinson was sued by Mr Hijazi after the then 15-year-old was assaulted at Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield in October 2018.

Robinson claimed in videos on social media that Mr Hijazi was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school”.

In the clips, viewed by nearly a million people, 39-year-old Robinson also claimed Mr Hijazi “beat a girl black and blue” and “threatened to stab” another boy at his school – all allegations which were found to be false last summer.

Following Mr Hijazi’s successful libel claim, Mr Justice Nicklin ordered Robinson to pay him damages of £100,000 and his legal costs.

Mr Hijazi’s legal costs were thought to be around £500,000.

After failing to attend the hearing in March, Robinson will now have to return to court again in August to decide whether he had committed a contempt of court.

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