Jack Monroe begins libel proceedings against Katie Hopkins over alleged support of WWII memorial vandalism

Katie Hopkins (left) and Jack Monroe. Credit: PA

Libel proceedings have begun against controversial newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins over tweets a food blogger say accuse her of supporting the vandalism of a Second World War memorial.

Jack Monroe, who also campaigns over poverty issues, is reportedly suing Hopkins for £50,000, over claims she was "defamed" by the former Apprentice contestant.

The High Court hearing relates to a Twitter posting Hopkins made in May 2015 during a debate on the social media site after a memorial to the women of the Second World War in Whitehall was daubed with the words "F*** Tory scum" during an anti- austerity demonstration.

Wading into the debate Hopkins - who has 680,000 followers on Twitter - posted: "@MsJackMonroe scrawled on any memorials recently? Vandalised the memory of those who fought for your freedom. Grandma got any more medals?"

Monroe says the tweet meant she had either vandalised a war memorial, and "thereby desecrated the memory of those who fought for her freedom and had committed a criminal act", or that she "condoned or approved" of the criminal vandalisation of a war memorial.

Food blogger Jack Monroe outside court. Credit: PA

The 28-year-old, from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, also claims that a second tweet by Hopkins bore a "defamatory innuendo meaning" that she "approved or condoned the criminal vandalisation of the women's war memorial in Whitehall during an anti-government protest".

Her lawyer William Bennett told Mr Justice Warby: "The claimant's primary case is that by reason of the seriousness of the allegations and the scale of publication, serious harm to reputation has been caused.

"A widely published allegation that someone has either vandalised a war memorial or approved of such an act will inevitably cause serious damage to reputation."

Mr Bennett said "the libel was a particular affront to her because part of her identity is as a member of a family closely involved with the armed forces".

Monroe, who has more than 87,400 Twitter followers and runs a food blog, initially demanded Hopkins apologise and donate £5,000 to a charity supporting migrants.

Katie Hopkins has 680,000 Twitter followers. Credit: PA

While Hopkins, who has previously likened migrants to "cockroaches" in a column that generated international condemnation, deleted the tweet, she failed to offer an apology.

Mr Bennett continued that even after Hopkins deleted her tweet "she did not apologise or retract the allegation even though she knew it was false".

Jonathan Price, for Hopkins, told the judge in written argument that her case was that "this relatively trivial dispute arose and was resolved on Twitter in a period of several hours".

He argued that "no lasting harm, and certainly no serious harm", to Monroe's reputation resulted from it.

Mr Price said her case was that "these proceedings are an unnecessary and disproportionate epilogue to the parties' otherwise forgotten Twitter row".

He continued that Hopkins had "mistakenly" used Monroe's Twitter handle, instead of that of another columnist who had tweeted about the memorial incident.

Mr Price added that the "novelty" of the case was that "the publications complained of and the harm particularised all took place on Twitter".

Monroe rejected Mr Price's suggestion that rather than it being the worst thing to happen to her on Twitter, which was her evidence, it was in fact the best thing because it gave her the opportunity to bring the proceedings.

She told the court: "These proceedings have been a nightmare. It has been an 18-month, unproductive, devastating nightmare.

"I did not want to be here today. I have offered several times though my lawyer to settle these proceedings outside court. This is the last thing that I wanted to be doing."

The hearing continues on Tuesday.