Katie Hopkins faces six-figure bill after losing libel case over tweets
Controversial columnist Katie Hopkins faces a six-figure bill after losing a libel action brought against her over two of her tweets.
She was ordered by a High Court judge on Friday to pay £24,000 damages to writer Jack Monroe at the conclusion of a case dubbed "Twibel" by media pundits.
As well as the award to Monroe over defamatory "war memorial" tweets, former Apprentice star Hopkins will have to pay costs running into six figures.
She was ordered by Mr Justice Warby at a hearing in London to pay £107,000 on account of costs within 28 days, with the full figure yet to be assessed.
Food blogger Monroe, 28, of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, complained that the tweets posted in May 2015 accused her of "vandalising a war memorial and desecrating the memory of those who fought for her freedom, or of approving or condoning such behaviour".
The judge said "Ms Hopkins does not suggest that Ms Monroe did behave in either of these ways".
Her answer to the claim was that her tweets did not bear the meanings complained of, were not defamatory and that it had not been shown that they caused serious harm to Monroe's reputation.
After the ruling in her favour, Monroe tweeted: "It's taken 21 months but today the High Court ruled that Hopkins statements to/about me were defamatory. I sued her for libel. and I won."
The case arose after Twitter erupted following the daubing of a memorial to the women of the Second World War in Whitehall with the words "F*** Tory scum" during an anti-austerity demonstration.
During a recent hearing, Jonathan Price, for Hopkins, told the judge her case was "this relatively trivial dispute arose and was resolved on Twitter in a period of several hours".
He argued "no lasting harm, and certainly no serious harm" to Monroe's reputation resulted from it.
Hopkins had "mistakenly" used Monroe's Twitter handle instead of that of another columnist who had tweeted about the war memorial incident.
But the judge ruled that the "publications complained of" had "not only caused Ms Monroe real and substantial distress, but also harm to her reputation which was serious".
Speaking after the decision was announced, Monroe said: "It has been a very long and very arduous process. There have been many times when I have almost given up and walked away. But I started something and I had to see it through, and I have done."
Monroe's lawyer, Mark Lewis, a partner at Seddons solicitors, said she had "finally been vindicated in full from the libellous and wholly false accusation by Katie Hopkins that she had supported the vandalisation of a war memorial".
He added: "Jack Monroe never did, and coming from a proud military family, never would."
Mr Lewis said: "The price of not saying sorry has been very high. Hopkins has had to pay out of her own pocket a six-figure sum in damages and costs for a tweet that should have been deleted within minutes as soon as she was told it was wrong."
He said: "Hopkins claimed that Twitter was just the Wild West where anything goes. The judge has shown that there is no such thing as a Twitter outlaw."