Jack Monroe wins Twitter libel case; could this pave the way for others?

If Mx Monroe had turned up to court like this – and it had been a real gun – then readers of This Blog might have been treated to one of the rare occasions when I would have advocated its use on the defendant… whose name I find unaccountably forgettable [Image: Jack Monroe on Twitter].

Congratulations to Jack Monroe for winning the libel case against some no-mark spite-mongering over-paid under-educated coward whose name escapes me even though I know it appears in the extract from Inforrm‘s report, which appears immediately below.

Jack is a friend of This Site – and of those of us who campaign to protect people with disabilities from Tory government persecution. No doubt the mass media has simply applied the “food blogger” label but we recognise Jack’s other work too.

The defendant – no, sorry, I thought I had the name but it’s gone again – appeared on a TV lack-of-talent show once, as I understand it.

The victory has given This Writer cause for serious thought. I was attacked on Twitter – directly, not be mistake, as with the first tweet in Jack’s case – on several occasions last summer by a certain journalist and also a certain novelist, both of whom initiated a cascade of abuse against me on Twitter. Hits on This Site subsequently suffered a slight – but significant – fall.

Now I’m wondering if I should have sued them. Neither is short of cash, after all.

Any advice, Jack?

Food blogger and political activist Jack Monroe has won a defamation claim against Katie Hopkins in respect of two tweets published on Twitter (see the Inforrm case preview). Ms Monroe was awarded £24,000 in damages.  Judgment was handed down by Warby J on 10 March 2017 ([2017] EWHC 433 (QB)),

The case is particularly significant given the Twitter context generally, but also that this was the first time that the ‘serious harm’ test under the Defamation Act 2013 has been applied to tweets.

The case concerned two tweets posted by Mail Online columnist Katie Hopkins in May 2015 referring to Ms Monroe.  Ms Hopkins’ tweets were part of a wider reaction across social media to the vandalising of a war memorial during an anti-austerity protest.  They were prompted by a post from New Statesman columnist Laurie Penny who had tweeted “I don’t have a problem with this.  The bravery of past generations does not oblige us to be cowed today”. Ms Hopkins’ first tweet (“the First Tweet”) in response mistook Ms Monroe for Ms Penny.

Ms Monroe 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.” She subsequently asked Ms Hopkins for a public apology and a £5,000 charitable donation in settlement.  Ms Hopkins deleted the original tweet but failed to apologise or retract the statement.  Later that same day, Ms Hopkins tweeted again.

Ms Monroe claimed that (i) the First Tweet suggested that she had either vandalised a war memorial, which was a criminal act, or condoned or approved that vandalisation; and (ii) the Second Tweet bore a defamatory innuendo meaning that she approved or condoned that vandalisation.  She argued that both Tweets had caused her serious harm pursuant to section 1 of the Defamation Act 2013.

The judge accepted Ms Monroe’s evidence that the Tweets had caused her significant distress. She had received a certain amount of abuse from other Twitter users. However, this only went towards injury to feelings which on its own is not sufficient. Serious harm to reputation had to be established. The judge reached a clear conclusion that the serious harm requirement was satisfied on the straightforward basis that the Tweets had a tendency to cause harm to Ms Monroe’s reputation in the eyes of third parties, of a kind that would be serious for her.

Source: Case Law: Jack Monroe v Katie Hopkins, Success for claimant in Twitter libel case – Nathan Capone | Inforrm’s Blog

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11 thoughts on “Jack Monroe wins Twitter libel case; could this pave the way for others?

  1. chriskitcher

    I was delighted to see Jack call this nasty woman to account. Lets hope the Mail take notice and consider an end to supporting the venom that this woman writes.

  2. gfranklinpercival

    Sadly we cannot alter the past, Mike. Perhaps we should remember this case should future occasion perchance arise.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Who? Oh, the defendant person. She’ll probably be bovvered by the £300,000 legal bill I’m told she’ll have to pay.

      1. Dez

        A few more shows as a not quite a celeb will swell her coffers. Hopefully this very expensive mistake will hopefully make sure she tries harder to insule the correct party next time and also learn to say sorry properly.

      2. John

        Could be wrong, of course, but not convinced that the £300k will bother her too much? She’s probably loaded anyway.
        All I reckon this will have done is expose her for who she is a little more?
        Aside from the money aspect, this might actually benefit her in some way? #cynicalpov

  3. Pamela

    Somehow I doubt this will change the behaviour of she who’s name I’ve also, unaccountably, forgotten already. However, the result does show to people that the law frowns on such behaviour. We need to keep showing people that abuses like this are not acceptable to decent thinking members of society, so yes, I think you probably should have brought actions against those who attacked you.

  4. Zippi

    The defendant really ought to get her facts straight, think twice about insulting and/ or defaming somebody so publicly and learn the difference between less and fewer, as, clearly, she has no clue. Methinks that the defendant, like Mr. Trump, should have her twitter account seized, until she can prove that she can use it responsibly.

  5. Dave Rowlands

    Great win for Jack, I guess it will be put down to “Expenses” where whatshername is concerned, loss to the tax payer, the real tax payer.

Comments are closed.