Katie Hopkins ordered to pay libel compensation. Twitter users beware!
Thursday 18th May 2017
It has been widely publicised that the opinionated and often controversial columnist, Katie Hopkins, has recently been ordered by the High Court to pay damages of £24,000 for libel, plus legal costs of £107,000. Jack Monroe is a writer and columnist and was the subject of tweets posted by Hopkins on Twitter in May 2015, which accused Monroe of vandalising a war memorial. It has been reported that Hopkins failed to delete the tweet complained of even when she had been advised that her allegation was untrue.
A claim for libel, under the Defamation Act 2013, imposes a test that any words claimed to be libellous must cause “serious harm” to the person complaining. In this case, the court confirmed that Hopkins’ tweets did satisfy that requirement of serious harm, as the tweets had a “defamatory tendency” and were “published to thousands”. This judgment will assist lawyers in defining the serious harm test included in the 2013 Act, which had remained largely untested and undefined.
Furthermore, the court also stated that Monroe had been caused “real and substantial distress” and was therefore entitled to “fair and reasonable compensation”.
Katie Hopkins has since stated that she will appeal the High Court’s decision.
The judgment has sparked comments that those posting on Twitter should not make the mistake that comments cannot be libel if they were meant as a joke; if the words caused serious harm then legal action may follow.
If you feel that you have been subject to libel and that serious harm has been caused to you, contact our Dispute Resolution team for advice as to whether you have a claim. It is important to act quickly, as defamation claims must be brought within one year of the words complained of.
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