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Serious harm in the Twitter ‘Wild West’

Defendants are better off settling than arguing over lack of serious harm, says Andrew Pavlovic

11 April 2017

In Monroe v Hopkins [2017] EWHC 433 (QB), Mr Justice Warby awarded £24,000 in damages in respect of two tweets made by Katie Hopkins which suggested that Jack Monroe condoned and approved of the vandalism of a women’s war memorial in Whitehall.

In doing so, Warby J rejected Hopkins’ 11 arguments that the tweets had not caused serious harm to Monroe’s reputation, as required by section 1 of the Defamation Act 2013.

Serious harm was established on the ‘straightforward basis that the tweets complained of have a tendency to cause harm to the claimant’s reputation in the eyes of third parties, of a kind that would be serious for her’, and without the need for a forensic evidential review as to whether serious harm had in fact occurred.

The judge also referred to the substantial costs that had been in...

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