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Katie Hopkins

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Katie Hopkins
Born Katie Olivia Hopkins
(1975-02-13) 13 February 1975 (age 42)
Barnstaple, Devon, England
Alma mater University of Exeter
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Occupation Television personality, columnist, radio presenter
Television The Apprentice
I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!
Celebrity Big Brother
If Katie Hopkins Ruled the World
Spouse(s) Damian McKinney (m. 2004–05)
Mark Cross (m. 2010)
Children 3

Katie Olivia Hopkins (born 13 February 1975) is an English media personality and newspaper columnist. She first came to notice in 2007 as a reality television contestant and is a columnist for British newspapers, initially for The Sun, and later the Daily Mail website. She was also a presenter on the radio station LBC for a time until May 2017 when her programme was terminated following her comments on Twitter about the Manchester Arena bombing.[1][2]

Hopkins has been criticised by journalists, advocacy groups and politicians for her comments about migrants, and accused of racism. In 2016, Mail Online was forced to pay £150,000 to a Muslim family whom Hopkins had falsely accused of extremist links; and in a 2017 libel case, Hopkins was personally required to pay £24,000 in damages and £107,000 in legal costs to Jack Monroe after making defamatory remarks on Twitter.

Early life and education

Katie Hopkins was born on 13 February 1975,[3] in Barnstaple, Devon.[4] Her father was an electrical engineer and she has an older sister. She was raised in Bideford,[5] attended a private convent school from age 3 to 16, played sports and learned to play the piano and violin. As a child she believed: "I was going to be the colonel of the forces. I loved the military. I loved the discipline, the rigour, the big shouty men".[6]

Hopkins told Sathnam Sanghera of The Times in June 2015 that she applied to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Magdalen College, Oxford. She passed the Oxford University entrance exam, but was rejected at the interview stage.[7] "Massively" disappointed, and putting the failure down to an absence of "a bit of coaching", she instead studied economics at the University of Exeter. She felt that her time at university was "redeemed" by her sponsorship from the British Army's Intelligence Corps, which would normally lead to a contracted 35-year period of employment, and spent her weekends with the Officers' Training Corps.[7] This she found "really fun, lying around in forests with guns having a brilliant time".[6]

She completed her military training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, but suffered an epileptic seizure during the final "passing-out" ceremony, and as a result was unable to take up her commission.[7] Hopkins has admitted that she kept her epilepsy secret whilst attending Sandhurst as this would have prevented her from being commissioned.[8] Instead, she joined a business consultancy and moved to Manhattan, New York, before returning to the UK in 2005.[6] She joined the Met Office as a global brand consultant in September 2006.[9]

Television and radio

The Apprentice

Hopkins was allowed to take unpaid leave from her job from the Met Office as part of her probationary period of employment to take part in series three of the reality TV show The Apprentice in 2006.[9] In the format used at that time, contestants in The Apprentice competed for a £100,000-a-year job working for British businessman, Alan Sugar.[9] Hopkins rejected Sugar's offer of a place in the final episode of the programme, citing problems regarding childcare provision for her daughters, and withdrew from the competition at the end of the penultimate task.[9][10] The episode gained 6.2 million viewers, while the following You're Fired! episode, in which Hopkins was interviewed, was watched by 3.1 million.[11]

Throughout her tenure on The Apprentice, Hopkins made several critical comments on camera. The comments were directed at her fellow contestants, viewers of television shopping channels, maternity leave,[12] fake tans, and overweight people.[13] Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill writer Richard Curtis expressed his distaste for Hopkins, jokingly vowing to kill her when he accepted his Fellowship award at the 2007 BAFTA awards.[14] When video clips of her comments about other candidates were shown on The Apprentice: You're Fired!, following up on the main programme, Hopkins explained that they were "quite funny". Michelle Mone, the founder of lingerie company Ultimo and a guest on the panel, verbally attacked Hopkins, calling her "exceptionally selfish", said she was not to be trusted, and accused her of giving "businesswomen a bad name".[15][16] Sugar was criticised over his questioning of Hopkins about her childcare arrangements.[10] He was accused of violating the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act.[17] The incident received substantial media comment.[18][19][20][21] Sugar argued his case in an interview with GMTV host Fiona Phillips, stating that he was aware of the rules.[22]

Aftermath

In June 2007, Hopkins lost her job at the Met Office, which said that she did not meet the required standards to complete her probationary period, and confirmed that her performance on The Apprentice and confessions about her private life were a factor in her dismissal.[9][23] Hopkins later stated that the media were informed of her dismissal an hour after she was fired.[22] After her appearance on The Apprentice, Hopkins signed two deals to sell her story, one with the News of the World newspaper and the other with EMAP, the company behind Heat and Grazia magazines.[24]

Hopkins said in an interview with BBC Radio Kent that she had great respect for Sugar, and that she believed she would have won the programme had she been in the final episode. She also said that the media's attitudes towards her did not affect her but did affect her family.[25] She made a similar claim of hypothetical victory in an interview with Fiona Phillips on the morning of the final Apprentice episode, although Sugar had said that if she wanted to press on he would fire her, whoever she was competing with.[26] Hopkins told BBC Radio 1 that she had not yet ruled out a media career[27] but expressed interest in starting a business venture.[28]

Subsequent broadcasting work

After The Apprentice, Hopkins appeared in an episode of 8 Out of 10 Cats, and was a guest star on Loose Women and The Friday Night Project.[29] In 2007, she presented a Five Live Report on family life and working mothers for BBC Radio 5 Live, and contributed an article on the same subject to BBC Online.[30]

In 2007, Hopkins joined the series I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here![31] as a replacement for Malcolm McLaren, who dropped out just before the show started.[32] In January 2015, she took part in the Channel 5 reality series Celebrity Big Brother, finishing in second place.[33]

Hopkins has appeared twice on Question Time in the editions of 10 June 2010 and 27 January 2011. She also appeared on the Young Voters' version of Question Time on 20 October 2010.[34] She appeared on an episode of 10 O'Clock Live on 24 April 2013 alongside Theo Paphitis and Owen Jones to discuss the legacy of the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher who had died that month, and to debate tax policies and the division of wealth amongst UK citizens.[35]

In 2015, she deliberately gained and lost weight over the course of several months, in an attempt to show that obese people can diet successfully. Her progress was carefully documented by a camera crew and then played on a programme called My Fat Story for TLC.[4] Hopkins gained and lost 3 stone (42 lb; 19 kg) over the course of the programme.[36] TLC claimed an audience figure of 10 million in the UK and US for the programme.[37]

Later that year, she began her own chat show, If Katie Hopkins Ruled the World on the digital channel TLC. She said she wanted to bring a new variation to chat and panel shows.[38] The series was dropped in December, after the first series, owing to low audience ratings.[37]

From April 2016 to May 2017, Hopkins presented a Sunday morning talk show on LBC, a London-based national talk and phone-in radio station.[39] She had previously worked as a guest presenter for the station.[40][41] "The snarling facade remained", wrote Fiona Sturges for The Independent in April 2015 after one such broadcast. "But even Hopkins knows when to tone down the panto villain act".[42] LBC announced Hopkins' departure on 26 May 2017, 'effective immediately', following her comments on Twitter soon after the Manchester Arena bombing.[43][44] Speaking about her departure a few days later on Fox News, she said a deal had been made with LBC not to speak about it, but suggested it was part of a "silencing" of people with right-wing views.[45] Following Hopkins' departure, LBC audience figures rose 18%.[46]

Print and websites

Early in her public career, Hopkins wrote a column for Exeter's Express & Echo newspaper, but her articles ceased after an online poll in October 2007 found 84% of readers wanted the feature to end.[47]

At the end of October 2013, it emerged that Hopkins had joined The Sun as a weekly columnist.[48] with the newspaper promoting her as "Britain's most controversial columnist".[49] Hopkins in February 2015 defended her remarks and those of her critics, commenting: "I welcome it because I've had my opinion and it's only right that people have theirs. I welcome the debate and the fact that people are getting involved."[36]

She left The Sun for the Mail Online website, the online companion to the Daily Mail in autumn 2015.[50] The Daily Telegraph contributor Bryony Gordon wrote in April 2015 that media organisations have "a tipping point here, where the marketing men and women don't want to be associated with reality TV's very own Adolf Hitler. But so far that doesn't seem to have happened."[51]

Hopkins said said she is "pushing back the walls closing in on freedom of speech" at a Church and Media conference in October 2015. Claiming to be "the new Jesus" during her speech, she said: "I have never apologised for anything I’ve said. I find it very disappointing when people apologise. You should have the positive moral attitude to stand by what you say".[52][53]

Opinions

Since The Apprentice, Hopkins has frequently featured in the media for making controversial remarks, being described in several media outlets as a "professional troll".[54][55][56] She has described herself as a "conduit for truth", declaring what other people think but are too scared to say.[57]

Social class

During an appearance on ITV's This Morning in July 2013, Hopkins revealed she would stop her children playing with their classmates based on their given names. She revealed a particular dislike for "lower class" names like Charmaine, Chantelle, and Chardonnay, which met with disapproval from co-host Holly Willoughby.[58] Hopkins said that she did not like "geographical location names" either. After Willoughby's colleague, Phillip Schofield, pointed out that she had given the name India to one of her daughters, Hopkins asserted that India is "not related to a place".[59] A viewers' poll conducted by the This Morning programme indicated that 91% of respondents disagreed with Hopkins opinion.[59]

Appearing as a panellist on Channel 5's The Big Benefits Row: Live in February 2014, she was accused by Terry Christian amongst others of only expressing her controversial opinions to make money from media appearances.[60] Hopkins has said that financial motives are not the reason she speaks out, and received a "relatively modest" fee of £300 when she was on This Morning speaking about children's names.[57]

In a February 2014 interview with Decca Aitkenhead for The Guardian, Hopkins was asked if she is a snob: "Oh, definitely yeah, 100%. I think it's really important to be snobby".[6]

Illness and fatalities in the UK

Hopkins posted a tweet referring to Scottish life expectancy predictions based upon a 2011 NHS Scotland report, "Healthy Life Expectancy in Scotland: Update of trends to 2010". This tweet was posted following a heated debate on Scottish Independence during an edition of The Wright Stuff on which Hopkins was a panellist. In the wake of the 2013 Glasgow helicopter crash, the tweet raised widespread condemnation among Twitter users. Hopkins retorted "Following Independence I will only be the Biggest Bitch in England", and described people's reactions as "PC tastic."[61] An online petition to ban Hopkins from shows such as ITV's This Morning and The Wright Stuff on Channel 5 gained over 75,000 signatures. Hopkins issued an apology the following Monday, restating that her original remark was in reference to the NHS report and was simply bad timing.[62] ITV said on 5 December 2013 that "We have no plans for Katie Hopkins to appear on This Morning at this present time".[63]

On 31 December 2014, police announced they were investigating complaints they had received concerning Hopkins' tweets about Pauline Cafferkey, a Scottish aid worker who was diagnosed with Ebola after returning to the UK from Sierra Leone. Hopkins had tweeted: "Little sweaty jocks, sending us Ebola bombs in the form of sweaty Glaswegians just isn't cricket. Scottish NHS sucks."[64] No evidence of criminality was found by the police.[65] On 7 April 2015, Hopkins made a series of tweets suggesting that people with dementia are "bed blockers" who take up scarce hospital beds and implied they would be better off dead. Her comments were condemned by leading UK Alzheimer's charities.[66]

After five Londoners drowned at Camber Sands in August 2016, Katie Hopkins tweeted a poll mocking the identities of the deceased.[67] Sussex Police reported the tweet to Twitter under the headings of "abusive or harmful" and "disrespectful or offensive".[67] They decided while the tweet was distasteful it was not criminal.[67] The tweet was deleted.[67]

Pakistani men and Rochdale

Hopkins objected to Rochdale commemorating National Pakistan Day on 23 March 2015 and claimed to base her objection on a Rochdale sex trafficking case involving nine predominantly Pakistani men and several dozen white victims.[68] In a series of tweets, she posted images of the felons with the caption "are these your friends too?" On 29 March 2015, Hopkins was reported to the police by Labour MP Simon Danczuk for possible race hate crimes.[69] In response, Hopkins said "I asked fair questions and I think it's important that someone has the balls to speak out".[70]

Migrants column in The Sun (April 2015)

On 17 April 2015, Hopkins wrote a column in The Sun compared migrants to "cockroaches" and "feral humans" and said they were "spreading like the norovirus". She wrote that gunships should be used to stop migrants from crossing the Mediterranean.[71][72][73] Her remarks were condemned by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.[74] In a statement released on 24 April 2015, he urged the UK to "curb incitement to hatred" by its "tabloid newspapers" and stated that Hopkins used "language very similar to that employed by Rwanda's Kangura newspaper and Radio Mille Collines during the run up to the 1994 genocide", and noted that both media organisations were subsequently convicted by an international tribunal of public incitement to commit genocide.[74]

Hopkins' column also drew criticism on Twitter, including from Russell Brand, to whom Hopkins responded by accusing Brand's "champagne socialist humanity" of neglecting taxpayers.[73] Simon Usborne, writing in The Independent, compared her use of the word "cockroach" to previous uses by the Nazis and just before the Rwandan Genocide by its perpetrators.[75] He suspected that if any other contributor had written the piece it would not have been published and questioned her continued employment by the newspaper.[75] Zoe Williams commented in The Guardian: "It is no joke when people start talking like this. We are not 'giving her what she wants' when we make manifest our disgust. It is not a free speech issue. I'm not saying gag her: I’m saying fight her".[76]

A Change.org petition was initiated with the aim of getting The Sun to sack Hopkins. By 26 April, it had attracted over 310,000 signatures.[77] In early September, The Sun retweeted an earlier comment from Hopkins expressing her disinterest in migrants. The tweet was pulled after the Prime Minister David Cameron publicly announced Britain would do more to help those seeking asylum in the UK.[78]

A change.org petition for Hopkins to be replaced with 50,000 Syrian refugees gained more than 20,000 signatures in less than 48 hours in September 2015.[79][80][81][82]

Peter Herbert, chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, reported Hopkins and The Sun to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Hopkins was questioned and not charged, and subsequently criticised the police for purportedly criminalising opinion, and stated that she would set up a Society of White Lawyers.[83] By December 2016, the original article had been removed from The Sun's website.[84]

Donald Trump

Donald Trump thanked Hopkins in December 2015 for her "powerful writing on the U.K.'s Muslim problems", and described her as a "respected columnist".[85][86]

Hopkins supported Trump's Republican presidential nomination in the Daily Mail during December: "I hear cries that he is a blithering idiot. I have often been called a deranged fool. But if this were true you could ignore me, ignore us, imaging [sic] the two of us shouting naked at the rain. It's because we articulate sentiments repressed by the politically correct consensus that we have a voice".[87] Hopkins defended his remarks that all Muslims should be banned from entering the United States. Trump thanked Hopkins for her support, calling her a "respected journalist", although the Metropolitan Police and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson among others, rejected his comments that there are 'no go' areas of London for non-Muslims. Hopkins asserted that Britain is in part "radicalised" and "it does nobody any favours to deny the obvious".[85][88] When asked by BBC's Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil in a December 2015 interview to name the "swathes" of Britain that are no-go areas for non-Muslims, Hopkins replied that she couldn't for "legal reasons". When Neil pointed out there could be no legal problems with identifying an area she continued to refuse, saying only “I know those places exist".[89]

Racism, racial profile, and Black Lives Matter

In January 2017, a caller to her LBC programme named Joseph said she came over as racist, following which she said: "I genuinely believe 'racist' as a word has been used so much. I am sorry for the word racist in a way. I love language so much... it's like a regular word now, it's lost all meaning to me". When tweeting the clip she added, "Call me racist. I don't care. I will stand up for white women being raped because you're scared to offend Muslims".[90] Hopkins tweeted shortly afterwards: "Racial profiling is a good thing, call me racist. I don't care...it has lost all meaning". She later briefly retweeted a favourable response from an account named Anti Juden SS, whose avatar featured the Swastika (and the United States flag), explaining that she had not looked at the handle.[91][92]

Sharing a poster on Twitter for the Netflix series Dear White People at the beginning of May 2017, Hopkins added: "Dear black people. If your lives matter why do you stab and shoot each other so much". Although, the tweet was deleted, users of the social media site circulated screenshots of what appeared to be a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.[93] In August 2016, she urged the London Mayor Sadiq Khan to use water cannon against Black Lives Matter protesters at Heathrow Airport, who had chained themselves to the tarmac of an approach road.[94]

Manchester Arena bombing

Regarding the Manchester Arena bombing, Hopkins wrote that "Britain is faced with some hard questions the people charged with protecting us are going to have to answer sooner or later". Hopkins asserted that the suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, was known to the police, and questioned how he was permitted to re-enter Britain unchallenged after visiting Libya. "Our leaders allow such deeply suspicious characters back into Britain," wrote Hopkins, "and then expect us to swallow their lies that we will not give in to terror?"[95] Hopkins also tweeted about the need for a "final solution", the Nazis' term for the Holocaust, on the morning following the May 2017 Manchester Arena bombing.[96] Although the tweet was soon deleted and reworded as a "true solution", Hopkins claimed the original was only a typographical error (she had also misspelled Manchester).[97] The motive for the attack, and the background of the suicide bomber, was unknown at the time Hopkins made the comment.[98][99]

The journalist Nick Cohen was among those who responded on Twitter: "Even if Hopkins knows nothing of Nazism – which I doubt – her "final solution" can only mean ethnic cleansing". Others, such as Owen Jones called for a boycott of the LBC radio station while they employ her.[97] Interviewed later on Fox News by Tucker Carlson, she called for people to insist on deportations among other responses to terrorist acts. She said: "I used the word 'final solution' in a tweet, and I would not in any way want to use that term and the inference other people lay on that. What I meant was, we need a lasting solution, a resolution to this".[86] The incident led to Hopkins leaving LBC.[100]

Following the June 2017 London attack almost a fortnight later, Hopkins called for internment camps to used for those suspected of being Muslim extremists on Fox News' Fox & Friends. The host Clayton Morris said, on behalf of the network staff, that everyone considered the "idea reprehensible".[101][102][103]

Hopkins' comments have been linked in the media with hate crimes against Muslims. In Heckmondwike, a Muslim man was attacked by assailants who graffitied his house with Hopkins' tweet.[104]

Refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean

In July 2017, Hopkins flew to Catania in Sicily to visit a ship known as the C-Star hired by the Defend Europe movement, which has the intention of hindering the work of "search and rescue" vessels in the Mediterranean used by charities such as Save the Children to save trafficked migrants and refugees.[105] Defend Europe is supported by the American white-nationalist David Duke and the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website.[106]

Hopkins tweets suggested she was actively supporting Defend Europe, rather than covering the subject for her employer: "Looking forward to meeting the crew of the C-Star in Catania tomorrow. Setting out to defend the Med. All this week @MailOnline". She tweeted, and then deleted, an image of herself with a Defend Europe activist also present in Sicily at the time, a man known as Peter Sweden, initially reported to be an active Holocaust denier.[106][107]

An article headlined "Katie Hopkins on NGOs colluding with traffickers in Sicily" was briefly published on the Mailonline website in mid-July 2017.[105] According to a report on the HuffPo website, the article offered no evidence to match the title. Shortly after her article was deleted, Save the Children rejected Hopkins' claim that she had "spent time" with the crew of one of their ships. "Nor will she set sail with us on any of our rescue missions", they stated.[108] The deleted Mailonline article was her only contribution to the planned series.[109]

Legal issues

Jack Monroe

Cookery writer and anti-poverty campaigner, Jack Monroe threatened a libel action against Katie Hopkins after Hopkins accused Monroe of vandalism to a war memorial, having confused Monroe with journalist Laurie Penny, who had written in support of that vandalism.[110] Monroe called for an apology and a £5,000 donation to a migrants rescue charity.[111][112] Hopkins later admitted that she was mistaken about the identity.[113] Monroe began legal action in January 2016,[114][115] and was awarded £24,000 in damages and £107,000 in legal costs in March 2017.[116][117] After the decision became known, Hopkins tweeted an image of herself as the Virgin Mary and commented that she saw herself as "the Jesus of the outspoken".[118]

Mahmood family

Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, his brother and their children were stopped from boarding a Norwegian Air flight from Gatwick to Los Angeles on 15 December 2015. At the airport, the family from Walthamstow found their entry visas to the United States had been cancelled.[119]

In December 2016, the Daily Mail and General Trust settled a libel case brought by the Mahmood family with £150,000 damages, plus legal costs, over two articles by Hopkins posted on the Mailonline website which claimed members of the Muslim family were extremists.[120][121] The columns published at the time of the incident falsely claimed that officials were right to stop the family flying to Los Angeles to visit Disneyland because the two men were connected to al-Qaida, and that their stated plans were a "lie".[122] In the settlement, the assertions from the Mahmood family were accepted as true by the Mail and Hopkins; the family had arranged to stay with another brother living in California,[121] The family's MP, Stella Creasy, complained to the prime minister David Cameron at the time about the family's treatment, but Hopkins said Creasy was "whinging" and accused her of being a "maniac".[119]

In a statement from the family's solicitors, Carter-Ruck, they said: "matters are not helped when sensationalist and, frankly, Islamophobic articles such as this are published, and which caused us all a great deal of distress and anxiety. We are very pleased that the record has been set straight".[122][123] The two articles by Hopkins about the Mahmood family have been removed from the Mailonline website.[124][125]

Political life

In the 2009 European Parliament Election, Katie Hopkins stood as a candidate for the South West England Constituency as an Independent candidate. She polled 8,971 votes or 0.6% percent of the total votes cast.[126][127]

In late September 2015, Hopkins spoke at a fringe event organised by the Electoral Reform Society at the UK Independence Party (UKIP)'s annual conference. After derogatory comments about the appointment of Michelle Mone to the House of Lords, she said: "Frankly, I don't really mind if we seal up the room and gas the lot of them".[128]

UKIP said Hopkins was not a party member and, although she has reportedly applied to join on several occasions, her applications have always been rejected.[129]

In November 2015, students at Brunel University turned their backs on her, then walked out in protest at her presence in a debate.[130]

Personal life

Katie Hopkins' first husband was Damian McKinney, a former Royal Marine and founder and Chief Executive of the company McKinney Rogers; they married in September 2004 in Exeter.[3][6] McKinney left Hopkins for another woman soon after the birth of the couple's second daughter.[7] While working at the Met Office, she met Mark Cross, a married design manager. In 2010, her marriage to Cross was filmed as part of the reality game show Four Weddings, which is shown on the satellite and cable channel Sky Living.[131]

Hopkins formerly suffered from epilepsy; she was being hospitalised around once every 10 days in early 2014, she told Decca Aitkenhead: "When I have a fit at night, my arms come out. They dislocate. So I have to go into hospital to have them relocated. That's happened 26 times in the last nine months".[6][132] The seizures could occur up to ten times at night, according to Sathnam Sanghera who interviewed her for The Times in mid-2015.[7] In a piece for The Sun, published the following August, she announced she was considering surgery to help prevent seizures.[49] In mid-November 2015, her condition led her to fall to the ground in the street, injuring her face, and for an ambulance to be called.[132][133]

In February 2016, she underwent surgery in which a portion of her brain was removed to relieve the severity of the condition.[134] Hopkins tweeted a month later that the operation was a success. "I am no longer an epileptic", she tweeted.[135]

Television appearances

Year Title Role Notes
2007 The Apprentice Herself Contestant
2007 The Friday Night Project Herself
2007 8 Out of 10 Cats Herself
2007 I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! Herself
2013 – This Morning Herself Guest
2015 Celebrity Big Brother Herself
2015 Loose Women Herself
2015 Reality Bites Herself Guest
2015 If Katie Hopkins Ruled the World Herself Presenter

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