14 March, 2017
It is rare that the outcome of Defamation cases that proceed to Trial are reported. Not only does the reporting of the case reveal the parties and the defamatory statements again, the parties involved tend to want to maintain their anonymity.
This was not the case in the recently reported Defamation case Monroe v Hopkins.
The case involved the tweets sent by Katie Hopkins, a journalist who writes for the Daily Mail. The tweets were sent about the food blogger, Jack Monroe. The tweets were sent on 18 May 2015 and involved comments which alleged that Ms Munroe had vandalised a war memorial and desecrated the memory of those who fought or approved or condoned of this behaviour. The tweets followed the "anti-austerity" demonstrations which took place in London shortly after the 7 May 2015 General Elections.
There were two tweets particularly examined by the Court; the first of which may have been seen by in excess of 20,000 followers and open to re-tweets. The second tweet may have been limited to 140 followers of both Ms Munroe and Ms Hopkins, as it was in response to Ms Munroe's denial.
The Court accepted in this case that the tweets did amount to "serious harm" the litmus test set out in the Defamation Act. The tweet caused Ms Munroe real and substantial distress, but also harm to reputation which was serious. The harm did not need to be very serious or grave, but was serious enough.
But the important reminders that this case identified were:
This case once again highlights that when facing allegations involving Defamation, advice from specialist solicitors should be taken at the earliest opportunity. This can be useful in preserving evidence, limiting the damage and harm, but importantly that practical and cost effective legal advice is given on action to be taken.
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