“I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it,” said George Bernard Shaw. Sometimes, though, the fight is worth it. The Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins has lost a libel suit against the blogger Jack Monroe. Two years ago Hopkins mistakenly claimed that Monroe had approved of someone vandalising a war memorial during a protest. After her error was pointed out to her, Hopkins then “obstinately refused to apologise, instead conducting her defence by slinging as much mud as she could”, as Monroe’s lawyer Mark Lewis put it. As a result she has been ordered to pay £24,000 in damages, plus substantial legal bills.
Jess Phillips, the Labour MP, thinks that some of this might be a little unfair. After all, “the judgment hung on the issue of reputation and I struggle to imagine how my reputation wouldn’t simply be enhanced by Hopkins sending bile my way”, she says in The Guardian. Nonetheless, Phillips “couldn’t help but smile at Hopkins’s defeat”. “She deserved it, she courted it and then she refused to do what even a child would do and just apologise.” Given that “it is easy to win a Twitter war with humour and the ability to punch a hole in pomposity and piety”, there’s absolutely no “need to be mean if you are clever”.
Hopkins is a “rent-a-gob”, says Camilla Long in The Times, and she was silly not to accept Monroe’s original offer, which was to “agree to say sorry and pay £5,000 to charity”. Still, she worries that the case will lead to Hopkins’s “demented, opportunistic and fanatic” fans “piling right in and turning into libel opportunists themselves”, while Hopkins “remains powerful and undaunted”.Indeed, Hopkins is likely simply to “come back ten times as vitriolic (and with bills to pay)”. Overall, the internet could end up being an “intolerant no man’s land of threatened suits and counter-suits”.
It’s not just the damages to Ms Monroe that will burn a hole in the controversial pundit’s pocket. “Although the full costs have not yet been assessed, the television personality is set to fork out at least another £300,000 in legal fees,” reports Harriet Agerholm in The Independent. However, help is at hand from an unlikely source as a fundraising page on the Just Giving website has “raised over £5,000 in less than 24 hours following the court’s decision”. While the page expresses “false concern” for Hopkins’s difficulties and the risk they may pose to her “glittering career”,
any money raised will go to the Trussell Trust, which runs food banks across the country.
While the outcome of the court case has burnt a hole in her pocket, it may prove to be good publicity for Hopkins’s forthcoming book. According to The Bookseller, it will cover everything from “firing little Lord Sugar” to “the reality behind Celebrity Big Brother” and promises to take us “beyond her front door and into the privacy of her home”. However, publisher Chris McCrudden is sceptical that it will actually make any money. While “hot air and controversy certainly fuels social media and fills column inches”, there’s “scant evidence it makes people part with cold, hard cash”.
Tabloid money… surely Joan has enough dosh “to keep her wigs above water”?
• “The saddest revelation of the week is that Joan Collins doesn’t consider herself rich, because she lacks ‘f*** you money’”, says Brian Reade in the Daily Mirror. Surely, Collins (pictured), 83, who owns houses in New York, LA, London and France, plus an estimated wealth of £24m, “has enough dosh to tell anyone, including God, to eff off”?
Sadly, no. “Such are Joan’s lifestyle demands that she needs constantly to keep accruing wealth to keep her wigs above water.” The closest I ever came to f*** you money, says Reade, was finding a tenner while on the dole years ago and “telling myself I should save it, then thinking ‘sod that, tonight is mine’, and blowing it in an off-licence”.
• That ludicrous £52bn bill – which the EU says Britain owes and must pay before it can leave the club – the EU can “shove up its Jean-Claude Juncker”, says Tony Parsons in The Sun on Sunday. But the fact that they’re trying it on shows the EU will not allow us to walk away. “They want us to crawl… Most people in our country, whatever side of the referendum debate they were on, desire a friendly split from the EU… But it is difficult to have a civilised break-up when the other side is determined to boil your bunny… That £52bn bill is the diplomatic equivalent of revenge porn. The EU wants to punish us. Talk about an abusive relationship!”
• It’s good news that a businessman whose company in Hampshire made 22 million automated nuisance calls has been fined £270,000, says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. What’s not so good is that he made £445,000 in profits in the last two years doing it. That’s a lot of people who got computerised calls offering to sort out their debts or get compensation for mis-sold payment protection insurance, who actually listened to what was said and signed up. “This means there must be an awful lot of people in Britain who are either very bored or very stupid.”