Katie Hopkins files for an IVA

When it comes to having ‘a bad day in the office’ it seems that controversial British broadcaster, Katie Hopkins, is certainly doing it in style – not least of all with an entry in the Insolvency Register for an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (“IVA”) which was filed on 22nd May 2018.

Katie Hopkins IVA

Who is Katie Hopkins?

For those of you who haven’t been privy to the latest headlines, Katie Hopkins is a renowned English media personality with very strong connections as a notorious columnist writing for British newspapers such as “The Sun” and “The Daily Mail”.  But that’s not all.  Katie has also made various TV appearances ranging from the third series of “The Apprentice” in 2007, right through to “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!”, “Celebrity Big Brother” and even the much more bespoke chat show aptly entitled “If Katie Hopkins ruled the world.”

Born in February 1975, Katie’s certainly no stranger when it comes to causing massive shockwaves across the British media and in fact has found herself subject to numerous claims in respect of damages for defamation.

In 2016, whilst writing for the Daily Mail’s online publication, “Mail Online” were ordered to pay a substantial £150k to a Muslim family who she’d wrongly accused of having extremist links and only a year later was ordered to pay £24k in damages, (not to mention £107k in legal costs) to the writer Jack Monroe after making defamatory comments across social media channel, Twitter … and so began the case of Monroe v. Hopkins.

Let the battle commence!

There can be very little (if any) doubt that the landmark case of Monroe v. Hopkins attracted much attention across the media globe – and certainly not without good reason.

The crux of the matter itself dates back to May 2015 when protestors sprayed offensive words on the Monument to the Women of World War II – a fitting tribute which stands in Whitehall, London, to the north of the Cenotaph.  This malicious attack followed the Conservative Party winning a majority vote in the general election and, at the time, resulted in at least 17 people being arrested following severe political clashes.

Around the same time renowned political writer, Laurie Penny (a great supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign in the Labour Party leadership election), notably commented on social media that she had no problem with the vandalism, thus resulting in negative whiplash from Katie, who promptly suggested she should be sent off to join an Islamic State.  Suffice it to say, gloves were well and truly off.  Round one.

Not wanting to leave sleeping dogs lie (which certainly doesn’t seem to be her MO in any sense of the word), Katie then tweeted just a few days later to well-known British food writer, journalist and activist, Jack Monroe, asking whether she had “Scrawled on any war memorials recently?”.  Suffice it to say, Jack promptly responded to deny any responsibility for such actions and instead, proudly reiterated she had members of her own family serving in the armed forces.  She later retweeted asking for someone to explain the difference between Laurie Penny (an “irritant”) as compared to herself (who she described as a “social anthrax”) [1].  And so begins round two.

Meanwhile – and in a supposed attempt to resolve the matter much more amicably – Jack politely asked for a retraction of Katie’s earlier statement, coupled with a public apology and suggested that a modest donation of £5k be made to migrant rescue in full and final settlement of any potential legal claim against her.

Katie’s response? – Probably one she should have reconsidered in hindsight.  Suffice it to say, the case ended up in Court on 10th March 2017 (a hearing which, interestingly enough, Katie failed to attend) and resulted in substantial costs being awarded against her by Mr. Justice Warby.  Sadly, that wasn’t quite the end of it either – Katie was subsequently advised she was unable to appeal the Court’s decision (on the grounds that it was unlikely to succeed) and almost overnight found herself subject to financial ruin.

The aftermath

Shortly after the hearing, Katie’s £1 million mansion in St Leonard’s was up on the market for sale, advertised via Rightmove (for all to see) and despite a desperate plea to save it via a crowdfunding page for the purpose of a refugee shelter, this only raised £2,867.00 of its £950k goal so was entirely unsuccessful.

The property, in fact, sold just three weeks after being put on the market, albeit £20k under the guide and asking price.  On 20th May 2018, Katie Hopkins then applied for an Individual Voluntary Arrangement in order to avoid bankrupty.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word …

Throughout the whole debacle it seems that Jack Monroe has, by far, remained the better person.  Indeed, she’s constantly made reference to the fact that she’d have much preferred to settle the matter amicably and certainly without the need for any associated Court proceedings.

Whilst this is certainly evidenced by the fact she suggested a mere £5k donation in the first place (and even then, for the benefit of others), comments by Jack which subsequently appeared in “The Guardian” confirmed: “My offer of a cup of tea still stands if she wants to talk about it … Lots of people are celebrating but I’m not.  It’s a sad, lonely sort of anticlimax.  It’s really crap and I feel really bad it’s all ended up like this.  I thought she’d just say sorry.” She went on to say “It’s really quite sad – two tweets cost her her house, job, and now her credit rating.”[2]

So what are the implications?

Aside from the obvious embarrassment that Katie once tweeted that people in debt blame anyone but themselves, the implications of her now entering into an IVA are certainly quite significant.

Whilst, in essence, the IVA should now enable Katie to avoid bankruptcy and start to manage the long-term repayment of her debts, the fact remains that she’s now a firm addition to the Individual Insolvency Register (which can be accessed and viewed by members of the public) and will remain there for a period of three months even after the arrangement with current creditors ends.

Of course, for many individuals who find themselves in debt, IVA’s can provide the ideal solution (and for creditors, this also means that they’ll get at least ‘some’ of their money back – although, very rarely, ‘all’ of it).  They’re also much less detrimental than bankruptcy (since they evidence at least some willingness to repay outstanding debts back).  However, for Katie Hopkins it seems (in this instance, at least) just those two very important words “I’m sorry” could have saved her from a definite fall from grace.

References

[1]  Judgment:  Monroe v. Hopkins – HM Courts and Tribunal Service 2017.

[2] Waterson, Jim (16th September 2018), “Katie Hopkins applies for insolvency agreement to avoid bankruptcy”, The Guardian, retrieved 18th September 2018.