Katie Hopkins 'very likely' to challenge Jack Monroe libel ruling

Matthew Taylor
Jack Monroe and Katie Hopkins. Monroe said the Twitter exchange had led to abuse from others, including death threats. Photograph: Getty/PA

The MailOnline columnist Katie Hopkins has said it is “very likely” she will challenge a court ruling that she libelled food blogger Jack Monroe on Twitter.

Monroe was awarded £24,000 in damages last week in a row over tweets suggesting the writer approved of defacing a war memorial during an anti-austerity demonstration in Whitehall.

Speaking to the BBC’s Media Show on Wednesday, Hopkins said she was satisfied with her behaviour and that the defamation bar on Twitter “was as low as my labia”.

She said: “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 the court … there is absolutely no evidence that anybody believed the tweet that I wrote.”

Monroe was not awarded full costs, but, since both legal teams were on a no-win-no-fee basis, Monroe will not have to pay. Hopkins’s side has been ordered to make an interim payment of £107,000 within 28 days. The final costs figure has yet to be assessed.

The judge, Mr Justice Warby, found that Hopkins’s tweets were defamatory and that there had been damage to Monroe’s reputation, “albeit not very serious or grave”.

The case centred on a Twitter exchange in May 2015, in which Hopkins confused two well-known anti-austerity commentators: Monroe and Laurie Penny, a columnist for the New Statesman. Penny had tweeted about a memorial to the women of the second world war in Whitehall having been vandalised with the words “Fuck Tory scum” during an anti-austerity demonstration.

Commenting on the graffiti, Penny tweeted from her account @PennyRed that she “[didn’t] have a problem” with the vandalism as a form of protest, as “the bravery of past generations does not oblige us to be cowed today”.

Hopkins attributed the opinion to Monroe and tweeted to the blogger’s then account @MsJackMonroe: “Scrawled on any memorials recently? Vandalised the memory of those who fought for your freedom. Grandma got any more medals?”

When Monroe, who is from an armed forces family, responded furiously and demanded £5,000 for a migrants’ charity on threat of a libel action, Hopkins deleted the original tweet but followed it up with one asking what the difference was between “irritant Penny and social anthrax Monroe”.

Shortly after Hopkins’s original message, Monroe, a contributor to the Guardian, tweeted in response: “I have NEVER ‘scrawled on a memorial’. Brother in the RAF. Dad was a Para in the Falklands. You’re a piece of shit.”

Monroe later sent a second message asking Hopkins to apologise: “Dear @KTHopkins, public apology + £5K to migrant rescue and I won’t sue. It’ll be cheaper for you and v satisfying for me.”

Hopkins deleted the first tweet but shortly afterwards tweeted: “Can someone explain to me – in 10 words or less – the difference between irritant @PennyRed and social anthrax @MsJackMonroe.”

Monroe’s lawyers argued that the second tweet carried an innuendo that Monroe approved or condoned the vandalism, which would cause lasting damage to the blogger’s reputation. Monroe told the court the exchange had led to abuse from others on Twitter including death threats, and that the affair had been “an 18-month unproductive, devastating nightmare”.

Hopkins did not appear in court, but her lawyers argued that it was “a relatively trivial dispute” that was over in a few hours, and that “no lasting harm, and certainly no serious harm” had been caused to Monroe.

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