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 ( 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.
Join the Vox Political Facebook page.
If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!
Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:
Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.
The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here: