The trial of the case of Jack Monroe v Katie Hopkins concluded on Wednesday 1 March 2017, Day 3 of the trial before Mr Justice Warby in Court 13 at the Royal Courts of Justice. We had case preview from last Friday and a case report on Days 1 and 2 of the hearing.
Counsel for the claimant, William Bennett, argued that defendant’s First Tweet (pictured below) would have been taken seriously be readers. The claimant had 577,000 followers at the time and was a Sun columnist and readers wanted to take facts and comments from her.
Mr Bennett submitted that the First Tweet was not political speech. Even if Twitter was the “wild west”, this did not exclude it from the rule of law. People would treat this as a factual allegation.
Although the First Tweet was published for two hours, what was important was the number of people it was published to. The claimant was asked to delete it to prevent further harm. Ten thousand people an hour were looking at the defendant’s profile page and would have seen the First Tweet which was at the top of the page.
There were 252,000 impressions of the Second Tweet – the court could proceed on the basis that there were at least 100,000 readers because impressions only show when a tweet appears on the screen and some allowance must be made for the fact that not everyone looks at the screen.
Mr Bennett suggested that the defendant had instructed her lawyers to engage in mud throwing at the claimant, raising wholly irrelevant points and that she should pay the price of this strategy.
He submitted that the court should accept the claimant’s evidence and also accept the the defendant was acting in bad faith: after the claimant’s defensive tweets she knew that the First Tweet was false.
He argued that the claimant had established serious harm to her reputation by reason of the seriousness of the allegations and the extent of publication. Reliance was placed on the abuse received both in relation to serious harm to reputation and distress.
The claimant sought aggravated damages on the basis of the way in which the defendant’s case had been conducted.
At the conclusion of the submissions Mr Justice Warby indicated that he would reserve judgment.