Katie Hopkins’ sorry tale shouldn’t change our libel laws

When Sir Elton John released Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word, Katie Hopkins was just one year old.

I clearly remember hearing it for the first time, as plain old Elt, as he then was, larked around with Morecambe and Wise on their Christmas special.

I can only think that poor old Katie was already tucked up in her cot by that time, finally quiet for once.

Certainly the song’s message hasn’t resonated with her four decades later.

Her refusal to apologise to food blogger Jack Monroe yesterday cost her £130,000 – and counting.

The odious Hopkins was successfully sued for libel by Monroe over Twitter comments suggesting the blogger supported the defacing of war memorials.

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Rather predictably, Monroe’s victory has meant she is now having to fend off accusations that she is somehow stifling free speech.

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Well said, Jack.

And then there is another debate. Over whether remarks made on Twitter should be taken as seriously by the law as those contained in permanent, considered news articles.

Media law trainer David Banks doesn’t think so.

In an interesting Twitter thread, he argues that it is an “obscenity” that Hopkins should now be facing a bill of what might end up at £300,000.

Not everyone agreed.

Warning: Some Rude Words On Their Way.

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I wouldn’t of course put it so forcefully as travel journalist Mr Whitley.

But I do agree.

If I stage a fireworks display for my family in my back garden and a stray rocket sets a neighbour’s house on fire, I’m no less culpable that the organiser of a public extravaganza at the local football ground.

There’s no difference to me, particularly when people like Hopkins have such huge numbers – nearly 700,000 – of followers.

So, no, the libel law shouldn’t be changed.

And yes, Ms Hopkins should pay up.

That’s the cost of making damaging and unsubstantiated accusations. And of not saying sorry.

 

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