A hearing has taken place in the High Court this week in a dispute over tweets sent by Katie Hopkins in May 2015 which allegedly imply that Jack Monroe, a food writer and social activist, defaced or condoned the defacing of a war memorial in Whitehall during an anti-austerity protest; statements Ms Monroe is claiming are libellous.
Following the vandalism, Laurie Penny, an anti-austerity campaigner and journalist for the New Statesman, had tweeted that she did not have a problem with the vandalism as “the bravery of past generations does not oblige us to be cowed today”.
In a case of alleged mistaken identity, Hopkins apparently confused Ms Monroe and Ms Penny and tweeted Monroe with “Scrawled on any memorials recently? Vandalised the memory of those who fought for your freedom. Grandma got any more medals?” In response Monroe confirmed “I have NEVER ‘scrawled on a memorial’. Brother in the RAF. Dad was a Para in the Falklands. You’re a piece of s**t”. Despite requesting an apology, the court heard this week that “she did not apologise or retract the allegation even though she knew it was false”.
The initial tweet by Hopkins was deleted although a further tweet was posted by her the same day which read “Can someone explain to me- in 10 words or less- the difference between irritant @PennyRed and social anthrax @MsJackMonroe”, which may have been perceived to show that Hopkins was aware of the mistaken identity.
Monroe argues that the tweets have caused serious damage to her reputation and led to her receiving death threats. The court has reserved judgment until the end of March.
Cases of mistaken identity have become more common with the increase in use of social media. Nowadays, a tweet intended to be sent to, or refer to one user can instead address another with the slip of a keyboard button; leading in some cases to reputational damage, harm or embarrassment. It is important before posting anything online that you cross-check your facts, consider who your audience and recipients are and think twice before you hit send!
Griffin Law are experienced in dealing with issues of reputation management and defamation and our team are available to discuss any matters of concern with you. Contact us at [email protected] or on 01732 525923
Article by Laura Ware, Solicitor, Griffin Law