Right-wing UK columnist Katie Hopkins, who once said debtors blame anyone but themselves, applies for insolvency after libel loss
The deal allows Hopkins to stave off bankruptcy, after she libelled food writer Jack Monroe over the defacement of war memorials and then refused to apologise
Controversial right-wing British commentator Katie Hopkins, who once said poor people in debt have no one else to blame but themselves, has applied for an insolvency agreement in a bid to avoid bankruptcy following a costly libel case involving the food writer Jack Monroe.
Last year, Hopkins was ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages and legal costs after she sent tweets in 2015 which falsely implied Monroe backed the defacement of war memorials by protesters.
Monroe originally asked for Hopkins to apologise and donate £5,000 (US$6,540) to a migrants’ charity or she would sue. But Hopkins – who had confused Monroe with the columnist Laurie Penny – refused to back down, resulting in a costly court case, with the commentator forced to pay £24,000 in damages and a substantially larger sum in legal costs.
I can confirm today that following that landmark libel case, Katie Hopkins has entered into an IVA to avoid bankruptcy. I knew for a while but could not say anything for legal reasons. The arbitrary defender of free speech didn't want anyone to know, ironically...
— Jack Monroe #bootstrapcook (@BootstrapCook) September 15, 2018
Meanwhile, her mainstream media career collapsed. She parted ways with Mail Online, for whom she had written a regular column, in late 2017, only a few months after losing her LBC radio show when she called for a “final solution” in response to the Manchester Arena terrorist attack. She now works for the far-right Canadian outlet Rebel Media.
Hopkins, who has already had to sell her Devon home, applied for an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) in May, a filing on the Individual Insolvency Register shows. Monroe said that the agreement, which will allow Hopkins to avoid bankruptcy and manage the long-term repayment of her debts, was recently formally agreed following discussion with creditors.
Hopkins, whose tweets suggested she is on a trip to Poland, did not immediately return a request for comment.
“It’s really quite sad – two tweets cost her her house, job, and now her credit rating,” said Monroe, reflecting on the case, which has taken more than three years in total.
— Jack Monroe #bootstrapcook (@BootstrapCook) September 16, 2018
“I’m supposed to be jubilant and celebratory but I feel quite mixed up. Having been close to the edge of bankruptcy myself, it’s a hideous situation to be in, but it was completely avoidable. Things are in place in that agreement to make sure her children are looked after. I’m a mother myself and I read it line by line to make sure that her children didn’t suffer as a result of what she’s done.”
Hopkins shot to fame as a contestant on The Apprentice in 2007, later billing herself as “Britain’s most controversial columnist” and appearing on the US TV network Fox News, during which time then-presidential candidate Donald Trump called her a “respected columnist” for her writing on “the UK’s Muslim problems”.
Earlier this year, she successfully won a complaint against the Daily Mirror after its website gave the impression that she was prevented from leaving South Africa for taking ketamine. She said the claim could be damaging to her reputation as, in reality, her passport had been briefly confiscated over allegations she had been spreading racial hatred, rather than for using medically-prescribed drugs.
After Monroe revealed the existence of the IVA, social media users drew attention to a tweet Hopkins published in 2014 suggesting that the “only thing” people in debt have in common besides poor money skills, is “an ability to blame anyone by themselves”.
Monroe warned that Hopkins could be turned into a martyr and pushed further to the extremes by the verdict. “She could have had a glittering career ahead of her,” she said. “I hope this is an opportunity to regroup and reconsider how best to provide for her family without ending up in court or being pushed further to the margins. I don’t know if it’s a fire that’s burning out or a fire that we’re pouring petrol on.
“My offer of a cup of tea still stands if she wants to talk about it. I don’t believe that anyone’s so far beyond redemption. Lots of people are celebrating but I’m not. I have to talk about it because if I don’t people will speculate on what I think. It’s a sad, lonely sort of anticlimax. It’s really crap and I feel really bad it’s all ended up like this. I thought she’d just say sorry.”