One reason I could be certain of my ground in calling the sacking of pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins by Mail Online - trailed back at the start of June and then ahead of the pack with the latest post last Sunday - was the knowledge that her libelling of the Mahmood family in a column back in December 2015 (judgment reported in December last year) was not the only time Hatey Katie had dropped the Mail in the legal mire.
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The Mahmoods were prevented from boarding a flight from London’s Gatwick Airport to the USA. They had saved up to give their kids a holiday of a lifetime, visiting Disneyland and seeing the sights over on the West Coast. Ms Hopkins claimed they lived in an area that was a “known hotbed of extremism” and that they had “confirmed links to al-Qaeda”. It was totally untrue, and the Mail, to their shame, went ahead and published it.
As a result, the Mahmoods retained the services of Carter, Ruck and took Mail Online to the cleaners, the eventual bill including costs coming to around the half-million pound mark. And now, after Ms Hopkins has been confirmed as an ex-columnist, has come news of another libel payout that the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker have been left to pick up. This one concerns a humble schoolteacher.
Jackie Teale took a banner made by some of her pupils to a protest against the UK Government’s closeness to the Trump Gang. But her pupils did not go with her. Ms Hopkins “suggested that the tens of thousands of protesters were all unemployed, unwashed child-neglecters, and explicitly stated that the people who supported the protests should be sterilised”. Nice kind of person, ain’t she?
When Hatey Katie discovered this, she dedicated her next Mail Online column to demonising Ms Teale. According to Ms Hopkins, Ms Teale had taken her pupils to the protest. Had she done so, their parents, her fellow teachers, and everyone else involved with the school would have been horrified. So Ms Teale was forced, in the face of the usual “shove off - sue us if you think you’re hard enough” attitude, to take legal action.
This she did. The result is that Hatey Katie has bequeathed Mail Online another eye-watering bill for damages and lawyers’ costs. So this morning there is not only a fulsome apology, but also the sure and certain knowledge that the Mail has wiped all of Ms Hopkins’ columns from the face of the earth, for fear of further repercussions.
“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 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” they grovelled. And it wasn’t an “error”, but deliberate defamation.
Will there be more Katie Hopkins defamation payouts for Mail Online to suck up? As the man once said, you might wish to ask that - I couldn’t possibly comment.