Like her or loathe her, Katie Hopkins is political gold for news copy. The former Apprentice contestant and now LBC presenter and Mail Online columnist is never far from controversy.
In recent years she has written about issues ranging from Islam to obese people, the Nice attacks to refugees. However, she made the news last week in relation to a libel case between herself and the blogger and political campaigner Jack Monroe. Not to mention her 700,000 Twitter followers.
The case details can be read here, but it remains a timely reminder of the power of social media as well as keeping a close eye on what employees or senior management are doing or saying online.
In English law, defamation cases may be brought forward if the remarks are believed to cause a person loss in their trade or profession, or causes a reasonable person to think worse of him, her or them. In libel cases, the burden of proof is reversed meaning that the onus is on the defendant to prove what you say is true. That is, if Mr A accuses Mr B of defamation, Mr A does not have to say whether the comments are true, just that they injure his name or reputation. Mr B must make his case to why he said them. There are defences such as privilege, justification, honest opinion and the Reynolds Defence. However, the accuser is under no pressure to disclose whether something is true or not.
For Hopkins, even in 140 characters, she found herself to be on the wrong side of the judge’s ruling. Just as her case and others involving Sally Bercow and George Galloway prove, people need to be cautious to what they are doing and saying online. Retweets may not be endorsements according to a Twitter profile, but in the eyes of the law it is no defence.
That said, while it is refreshing to see CEOs of companies or other high profile people such as athletes tweeting about their views. It is a timely reminder that independent tweeting can have significant legal, financial and PR impact.
Hopkins suggests she may challenge the ruling and the law itself. However, it’s worth educating colleagues on etiquette and legality.
Tweets by @CiceroGlobal