We reported on 10 March that having lost a libel case brought against her by the writer Jack Monroe, Ms Hopkins had been ordered by the High Court to pay £24,000 damages to Ms Monroe, as well as very significant costs. Ms Hopkins has now been refused permission to appeal the High Court’s judgment.
The case arose out of two very emotive tweets that Ms Hopkins had posted about Ms Monroe in May 2015. Following a three day trial which ended on 1 March, the High Court handed down its Judgment against Ms Hopkins at 2pm on 10 March 2017.
Ms Hopkins was represented at the hearing, and it was said on her behalf that she was considering her position in relation to an appeal. No application for appeal was made to the High Court at that stage but, nearly two weeks later, Ms Hopkins did apply to the High Court for permission to appeal its judgment.
On 28 March, Ms Hopkins’ application was refused. The court explained that the relevant rules are clear, and that any appeal application to the High Court should have been made when the judgment was handed down. No application was made at that stage, so any application now had to be made to the Court of Appeal directly. The court also made the point that, in any event, it would have refused to grant Ms Hopkins permission to appeal its judgment, stating that it “did not consider any of the four grounds of appeal to have a real prospect of success or that there is any other compelling reason for an appeal to be heard”.
Ms Hopkins also asked the High Court to stay the payment of £107,000 it had ordered her to make towards Ms Monroe’s costs. This application was also refused, the court again saying that this application should be made to the Court of Appeal.
The original case against Ms Hopkins emphasised the dangers of tweeting defamatory statements, and again made it clear that users of social media will be responsible and liable for what they publish. The second judgment against her emphasises that parties should also remember the procedural steps required when seeking permission to appeal. It will be interesting to see what the Court of Appeal makes of the case, if and when Ms Hopkins does now ask for permission to appeal the original High Court judgment.