Litigation-averse Hopkins 'very likely' to appeal libel ruling
â€˜A whole new world of defamation law has been opened up'
Katie Hopkins is ‘very likely’ to appeal the High Court decision that ordered her to pay £24,000 in libel damages for defamatory tweets sent to writer Jack Monroe.
This month, Mr Justice Warby ruled that two tweets sent by Hopkins about Monroe in May 2015 had caused the latter ‘real and substantial distress’ and serious harm to their reputation.
The tweets came a fortnight after an ‘anti-austerity’ demonstration on 9 May 2015, in which the Memorial to the Women of WWII in Whitehall was vandalised.
The first was sent at 7.20pm: ‘@MsJackMonroe scrawled on any memorials recently? Vandalised the memory of those who fought for your freedom. Grandma got any more medals?’
An exchange between the two ensued in which Monroe asked Hopkins to delete the tweet or they would ‘ask again… through my lawyer’. Monroe later said they would not sue if Hopkins publicly apologised and donated £5,000 to migrant rescue. Hopkins then deleted her tweet.
Hopkins’ second tweet was sent at 9.47pm: ‘Can someone explain to me – in 10 words or less – the difference between irritant @PennyRed [Laurie Penny, a columnist for the New Statesman] and social anthrax @MsJack Monroe.’
Warby J said Hopkins’ tweets suggested that Monroe ‘condoned and approved of scrawling on war memorials’ and ‘condoned and approved of the fact that in the course of an anti-government protest there had been vandalisation by obscene graffiti of the women’s war memorial in Whitehall’.
However, speaking to Radio 4’s The Media Show, the former The Apprentice contestant suggested she would appeal the decision: ‘It is very likely that we will appeal. And the grounds for that appeal will be the fact that no evidence of harm was produced in court.
‘And in fact, further than that, there is absolutely no evidence that anybody believed the tweet that I wrote in the sense that it was in any way injurious to the claimant.’
Hopkins, who deleted her first tweet after Monroe had threatened legal action, said: ‘I am satisfied with my behaviour. What I am not satisfied at is the defamation bar being as low as my labia.’
‘Where it now stands, the bar is too low. I would go as far to suggest with this judgment a whole new world of defamation law has been opened up.’
Hopkins said she would prefer that when someone makes a ‘mistake’ on social media and retracts their post within two hours using formal language, litigation would be avoided.
‘Always falling back to litigation is a sort of terrible, terrible indictment of our society. In America, this is laughed at and I think it’s one of the reasons that we feel very strongly that this will be appealed.’
If the defamation bar is to be raised, Hopkins – whose legal costs might already exceed £300,000 – may once again entice her legal team, comprising Doughty Street Chambers’ Jonathan Price and Kingsley Napley, into further litigation.
For William Bennett and Greg Callus of 5RB (instructed by Seddons) who acted for Monroe, it will surely be business as usual as the laws of social media look set to take centre stage once again.