20 Dec Mail Online in payout over Katie Hopkins
A teacher has received an apology and substantial damages from Mail Online after professional controversialist Katie Hopkins falsely claimed in a column that she had taken her class to a protest against Donald Trump outside Westminster. The payout and apology came as Hopkins left her Mail Online writing contract by ‘mutual consent’.
The apology to teacher Jackie Teale, which appeared on the website, read:
‘An article published in Katie Hopkins’ column on 5 February 2017 reported that Jackie Teale, a teacher, had taken her class to a protest against Donald Trump outside Westminster.’
‘We are happy to make clear that statement was wrong. It was in fact a banner made by some of her twelve-year-old pupils which she took to the protest. We apologise to Ms Teale for this error and have agreed to pay Ms Teale substantial damages and legal costs.’
Hopkins’ departure from Mail Online came in the wake of a series of legal and other controversies. Mail Online itself had to pay out £150,000 to the Mahmoods, a British Muslim family whom Hopkins falsely accused of extremism and of having links to al-Qaeda in two articles published in December 2015.
Earlier in 2017, the food writer and blogger Jack Monroe won £24,000 in damages and more than £100,000 in legal fees when she brought a libel action over two tweets by Hopkins which wrongly accused her of support for the vandalising of a war memorial, after Hopkins mistook Monroe for writer Laurie Penny.
In May, Hopkins’ weekly show on the radio station LBC was stopped after she tweeted following the Manchester Arena attack that there should be a ‘final solution’ for Muslims in Britain. The expression provoked widespread criticism because of its links to the Holocaust. Hopkins later said the tweet was a “typo”, and then replaced ‘final’ with ‘true’.
She was also criticised for a tweet inaccurately claiming that an accident outside the Natural History Museum was a terrorist attack, saying afterwards: ‘I stand by the idea that it’s a terror attack. I don’t shy away from that. It’s my personal opinion.’
Hopkins’ work has in the past garnered support from Donald Trump, who in 2015 tweeted: ‘Thank you to respected columnist Katie Hopkins of Daily Mail.com for her powerful writing on the U.K.’s Muslim problems.’ However, Hopkins is increasingly dogged by controversy and her departure from Mail Online leaves her without a mainstream media platform on either side of the Atlantic.