Alex Jones' Infowars files for bankruptcy amid Sandy Hook school shooting defamation cases

Alex Jones had claimed the 2012 school massacre that killed 20 children was a hoax. Credit: AP

Infowars - the far-right website founded by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones - has filed for bankruptcy amid ongoing defamation lawsuits over his comments that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.

The bankruptcy filing in Texas puts civil litigation on hold while the business reorganises its finances.

The filing came a week before a jury in Texas was set to begin considering how much money Jones, who has already lost the defamation lawsuits, should pay the families of the Sandy Hook victims.

In its court filing, Infowars said it had estimated assets of $50,000 (£38,000) or less and estimated liabilities of $1 million (£768,475) to $10 million (£7.7 million).

Creditors listed in the bankruptcy filing include relatives of some of the 20 children and six teachers killed in the 2012 school massacre in Connecticut.

The plaintiffs in that case have said they were subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones’ followers because of the hoax conspiracy that he promoted.

Families of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. Credit: AP

Jones has since conceded that the shooting did happen.

Christopher Mattei, who represents the families in a lawsuit against Jones, said: "Alex Jones is just delaying the inevitable: a public trial in which he will be held accountable for his profit-driven campaign of lies against the Sandy Hook families who have brought this lawsuit."

On Sunday, Jones said on his Infowars programme that he was considering bankruptcy and asked his listeners for financial help to stay on the air.

"We’re maxed out and I don’t want to lay off our employees," he said.

Infowars is an online-only news show and website that has been infamous for years for promoting baseless conspiracy theories as facts, with Jones offering more anger-fuelled rants denouncing his opponents rather than backing up his claims.

Jones has courted controversy for years Credit: AP

His organisation was a big supporter of Donald Trump and repeated all of his debunked claims as facts.

Infowars has been banned from almost all social media platforms.

Last month, Jones was fined $75,000 (£57,625) for failing to appear for a deposition in a defamation case - but a judge last week ordered the return of the money because he eventually showed up.

Another newly filed lawsuit accuses Jones of hiding millions of dollars in assets, but an attorney for Jones has called that allegation “ridiculous.”

Neil Heslin, whose six-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, died in the shooting, said he did not immediately know how the bankruptcy would affect his defamation lawsuit against Jones in Texas, where a trial on how much money Jones should pay in damages is set to begin next week.

“It is what it is,” Mr Heslin said. “We’ll see where it all goes. He’s tried everything to avoid everything.”

Neil Heslin holds a picture of him and killed son Jesse in 2013 Credit: AP

It is not the first time a bankruptcy filing has affected a lawsuit filed by the Sandy Hook families.

While suing gun maker Remington, which manufactured the AR-15-style rifle used in the school shooting, the company filed for bankruptcy twice. In the second case filed in 2020, Remington’s assets were eventually sold off to other companies.

The 2020 bankruptcy delayed proceedings for a year in the Connecticut lawsuit, which sought damages against Remington for how it marketed its rifles.

In February, the families of nine victims of the school shooting announced they had agreed to settle the case for $73 million (£56 million).