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Katie Hopkins appeal refused after losing libel case to food blogger Jack Monroe

The Independent logo The Independent 12/01/2018 Maya Oppenheim

Katie Hopkins looking at the camera © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Katie Hopkins has been refused permission to appeal in a legal battle with food blogger and poverty campaigner Jack Monroe.

The controversial columnist was ordered to pay Monroe £24,000 in damages last March after the High Court ruled comments Hopkins made on Twitter were defamatory.

In a May 2015 post, Hopkins implied Monroe had defaced or vandalised war memorials, which Hopkins later said was a case of mistaken identity.

The dispute stems from a series of public Twitter messages exchanged between the pair after a monument to the women of World War II in central London was vandalised with the words “F*ck Tory scum” during an anti-austerity demonstration in Whitehall.

Hopkins decided to take the case to the Court of Appeal but has now been refused permission to appeal on all grounds by Lady Justice Sharp.

In her verdict, Ms Sharp said: “In my opinion, none of the grounds raised has a real prospect of success, and there is no other compelling reason why an appeal should be heard. The application for permission to appeal is therefore refused.”

(File video provided by Press Association)

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Hopkins, a former The Apprentice contestant known for her inflammatory, anti-immigrant views, is now forced to pay for the complete costs of the libel case. This includes £24,000 in damages to Monroe and £107,000 to her lawyers to cover court costs.

Monroe, who rose to fame for blogging about cooking on a budget, told The Independent she was very grateful the case was now totally over.

Monroe, from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, said: “I’m extremely relieved that this long and exhausting case is finally over, as the practical, mental and emotional work involved has had an enormously detrimental impact on my work over the last two years.

“I feel I can finally move on. I found it bizarre that her lawyers would even consider that she might have grounds for appeal, considering she didn’t even turn up to the trial.

“I am proud to be part of a landmark legal case that demonstrates the accountability we must take for the consequences of our words, even on social media. I’m sober now, so will be celebrating by laying a new kitchen floor, and this whole thing to bed at last.”

Monroe said it was important people realised they did not need to be wealthy to seek justice in light of the latest verdict.

“I was so broke when I first sat in @MLewisLawyer office that I cried as I asked him ten times to confirm that this wouldn’t bankrupt me. It’s important that people understand you don’t need to be rich to seek justice. You just need a good case and a decent lawyer,” she tweeted.

“I’m seeing a lot of people levelling quite nasty abuse at Katie Hopkins re the appeal verdict. You lower yourselves to her standards, and by doing it in my name, drag me with you. It is the antithesis of everything I try to be. Be better. You can be better.”

Monroe rose to fame for the blog Cooking On A Bootstrap, previously called A Girl Called Jack, which centred on cooking on a budget and the struggle of feeding Monroe’s son for just £10 a week.

She identifies as non-binary and goes by singular they pronouns rather than “he” or “she”.

Mark Lewis, the lawyer who represented Monroe, told The Independent Hopkins had been refused permission to appeal.

“The price of not saying sorry for tweeting something that was completely wrong, has been very high. Hopkins had a way out but chose not to take it,” he said.

“She tried her hardest to make Jack Monroe suffer. It backfired. The legal costs of the case will now be assessed.

The exercise will have cost her several hundred thousand pounds. Although she will not have to pay her own lawyers who acted No Win No Fee, it would have been cheaper not to have taken free advice.

140 characters has ended up costing a fortune. When you tweet you publish. And the law applies.”

The case stems back to Hopkins tweeting to Monroe’s Twitter account a message that read: “Scrawled on any memorials recently? Vandalised the memory of those who fought for your freedom.

Grandma got any more medals?” Monroe replied: “I have NEVER ‘scrawled on a memorial’. Brother in the RAF. Dad was a Para in the Falklands. You’re a piece of s***.”

Monroe then asked Hopkins to apologise: “Dear @KTHopkins, public apology + £5K to migrant rescue and I won’t sue.

It’ll be cheaper for you and v satisfying for me.” Hopkins later tweeted to Monroe to say she was “confused about identity”, and “got it wrong”.

She claimed she had meant to send the abuse to New Statesman columnist Laurie Penny, who had tweeted from her account that she didn’t “have a problem”

with the graffiti on the memorial to women of the Second World War. Both Monroe and Penny have been outspoken critics of the Conservative party’s austerity policies.

It was announced Hopkins contract with the Mail Online “was not renewed by mutual consent” last November.

This came months after Hopkins agreed to leave her job as a host on LBC radio in May after she tweeted a call for a “final solution”

to Islamist terrorism in the wake of the Manchester arena attack. She left The Sun in 2015 after writing a column that compared migrants to “cockroaches” and ”feral humans”

and said they were “spreading like the norovirus”.

Hopkins became the subject of a petition calling for her to be sacked.

Hopkins did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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