Two-year-old tweets have the controversial Mail Online columnist Katie Hopkins defending herself against a £50,000 libel lawsuit that was in court this week.
The three-day libel trial in London, which Hopkins didn’t attend, closed this week and the judge, Justice Warby, “reserved judgment in the case until later this month,” the Guardian reported. iMediaEthics has written to both sides for comment.
Food writer Jack Monroe sued Hopkins over her May 2015 tweets that wrongly accused Monroe of vandalizing war memorials, as iMediaEthics previously reported.
Specifically, Hopkins’ tweet asked whether Monroe had “scrawled on any memorials recently? Vandalised the memory of those who fought for your freedom. Grandma got any more medals?”
Hopkins was apparently confusing Monroe with New Statesmen columnist Laurie Penny who had tweeted about war memorial vandalism, the Guardian explained.
Monroe responded by calling for Hopkins to delete the tweets and apologize. If she didn’t, then Monroe was prepared to file a libel lawsuit. After Monroe called Hopkins out, she deleted the tweet and doubled down in her criticism of Monroe, whom she called “social anthrax.”
Beyond being upset over the factual error over the vandalism, Monroe was personally upset as part of a military family.
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Last year, Monroe’s lawyer, Mark Lewis, told iMediaEthics the lawsuit against Hopkins was filed because “Jack Monroe was left having to respond to an attack that she condoned the vandalism of a War Memorial, despite coming from a military family, both her father and her brother serving in the armed forces.”
Facing the legal claims, Hopkins’ lawyer, Jonathan Price, argued in court filings that the lawsuit was about a “relatively trivial dispute” that “was resolved on Twitter in a period of several hours.” Further, Price called the lawsuit “an unnecessary and disproportionate epilogue to the parties’ otherwise forgotten Twitter row,” the Guardian reported.
Monroe disagreed, according to the Guardian, describing the lawsuit as “an 18-month, unproductive, devastating nightmare.”
In 2015, before the Twitter exchange with Monroe, Hopkins stirred a lot of controversy when she published a column in the Sun comparing migrants to cockroaches. More than 400 people complained to the press regulator IPSO, but IPSO rejected the complaints because no one person was discriminated against in the column — Hopkins’ column was focused on migrants as a group and not one person.
Last year, Hopkins was duped by a satire story claiming the British highway M25 would be shut down for a week for an endurance race.
Earlier this year, the Mail Online paid £150,000 to two Muslim brothers, Tariq Mahmood and Zahid Mahmood. The pair sued over one of Hopkins’ columns, which falsely accused them of being extremists tied to al Qaeda.