Jack Monroe, a food writer and blogger, has been awarded £24,000 in damages in a libel action brought against Katie Hopkins, Mail online columnist and former The Apprentice contestant.
In May 2015, Mrs Hopkins implied that Ms Monroe had defaced or vandalised war memorials during a series of public tweets. Ms Monroe alleged that she received death threats and abuse from others as a result of these very public tweets and that serious damage had been caused to her reputation.
The tweet which stated “Scrawled on any memorials lately? Vandalised the memory of those who fought for your freedom. Grandma got any more medals?” was mistakenly targeted at Ms Monroe instead of Laurie Penny, New Statesmen columnist, who it is claimed had said she saw no problem with graffiti as a form of protest.
This tweet was removed at the request of Ms Monroe but no apology or retraction made by Mrs Hopkins. Ms Monroe requested an apology via Twitter and £5,000 in damages to be sent to a migrant rescue fund failing which she would sue.
A second tweet was then fired by Hopkins which was said to cause further damage to Ms Monroe’s reputation by inferring that she approved of the vandalism.
Ms Monroe sued Mrs Hopkins alleging that what was said and the scale of its publication via social media had caused serious damage to her reputation.
Mrs Hopkin’s defended those proceedings claiming that no harm had been done in the short period of time the first tweet was public.
Ms Monroe, who was allegedly seeking damages of £50,000, was awarded £24,000 by High Court Judge Mr Justice Warby together with costs reportedly in the region of £107,000 and with further costs to be assessed. Mrs Hopkins will also have to pay her own legal bill which is said to be in the region of £300,000.
Mr Justice Warby described Mrs Hopkins as a ‘rentagob’ in his Judgment and this comes perhaps, as an expensive lesson to Mrs Hopkins that sometimes it is important to check your facts before you open your mouth or in this case “tweeting” without considering the implications of what you are saying.
This should act as warning to us all that when using social media you should be ‘careful what you tweet’.
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