Katie Hopkins refused permission to appeal

Sharp LJ refuses PTA against decision of Warby J; also refuses permission in Guise v Shah

The Court of Appeal has refused permission to appeal to Katie Hopkins, who had sought to challenge the decision at trial of Warby J in the ‘Twitter Libel Trial’Jack Monroe v Katie Hopkins [2017] EWHC 433 (QB); [2017] 4 WLR 68.

The Judge had found the tweets had caused serious harm to the Claimant’s reputation, and awarded Ms Monroe £24,000 in damages.

On 28 March 2017, Warby J declined to resolve the defendant’s application for permission to appeal, holding that he was functus officio once the order had been sealed, but indicated that he would not in any event have given permission to appeal: Monroe v Hopkins (No 2) [2017] EWHC 645 (QB); [2017] 1 WLR 3587.

The Defendant applied to the Court of Appeal on issues concerning ‘serious harm’ under s.1 of the Defamation Act 2013. Before the application was decided, the Court of Appeal (Davis, Sharp, McFarlane LJJ) handed down the leading decision on ‘serious harm’ in defamation, Lachaux v Independent Print Limited [2017] EWCA Civ 1334.

By Order dated 5 January 2018 Sharp LJ has now refused Ms Hopkins permission to appeal on all grounds, with 3 pages of reasons.

Sharp LJ has also refused permission to appeal in another internet libel case, Guise v Shah. In that case, involving claims for libel, harassment and breach of the DPA, and counter-claims in malicious falsehood, harassment and breach of the DPA, Dingemans J had awarded the Claimant £28,000 in damages. The Defendant applied for permission to appeal the judgment ([2017] EWHC 1689 (QB)) on various grounds, including the truth of lesser meanings under s.2(3) of the Defamation Act 2013; that his website about the Claimant could not form part of a course of conduct amounting to harassment; and in respect of the finding that honest opinion failed. Sharp LJ dismissed all of these grounds with reasons in an Order dated 9 January 2018.

The new CPR rule 52.5 (in force since 3 October 2016) means that there is no right to an oral renewal of the application for permission to appeal. There is no further right of appeal.

Jack Monroe was represented by William Bennett and Greg Callus (both of 5RB), instructed by Mark Lewis of Seddons LLP.

In Guise v Shah, 5RB‘s Richard Munden (instructed by Brett Wilson LLP) acted for the Claimant, while David Hirst (instructed on public access, and on appeal by David Price QC Solicitor Advocate) acted for the Defendant.