Katie Olivia Hopkins (born 13 February 1975) is an English television personality and newspaper columnist. Hopkins first appeared on television as a contestant on the third UK series of the reality television programme The Apprentice in 2007. She frequently made personal and critical comments on camera, and turned down a place in the series' final. She subsequently appeared in I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! on ITV and Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5. She has written a column for British newspapers The Sun and the Daily Mail and stood as a candidate in the 2009 European Parliamentary election.
Hopkins has been criticised in the media and by advocacy groups and politicians for her comments about migrants, and accused of classism and racism. According to Hopkins she is "pushing back the walls closing in on freedom of speech".
Hopkins suffered from severe epilepsy from the age of 19; the condition was responsible for ending her involvement in the armed forces. In 2016, she underwent successful brain surgery to relieve the condition.
Early life and education
Katie Hopkins was born on 13 February 1975, in Barnstaple, Devon. Her father was an electrical engineer and she has an older sister. She was raised in Bideford, attended a private convent school from age 3 to 16, played sports and learned to play the piano and violin.
Hopkins studied economics at the University of Exeter, sponsored by the British Army's Intelligence Corps. Hopkins completed her military training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. She participated in the Sovereign's Parade that marked the "passing-out" of the cadets, but could not take up her commission due to an epileptic seizure. After Sandhurst, Hopkins joined a business consultancy and moved to Manhattan, New York, before returning to the UK in 2005. She joined the Met Office as a global brand consultant in September 2006.
Television and radio
Hopkins was allowed to take unpaid leave from her job from the Met Office as part of her probationary period of employment in order to take part in series three of the reality TV show The Apprentice in 2006. 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. 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. 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.
Throughout her tenure on The Apprentice, Hopkins gave several critical comments on camera. The comments were directed at her fellow contestants, viewers of television shopping channels, maternity leave, fake tans, and overweight people. 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. 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". Sugar was criticised over questioning of Hopkins about her childcare arrangements. He was accused of violating the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act. The incident received substantial media comment. Sugar argued his case in an interview with GMTV host Fiona Phillips, stating that he was aware of the rules.
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. Hopkins later stated that the media were informed of her dismissal an hour after she was fired. 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.
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. 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. Hopkins told BBC Radio 1 that she had not yet ruled out a media career but expressed interest in starting a business venture.
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. 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.
In 2007, Hopkins joined the series I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! as a replacement for Malcolm McLaren, who dropped out just before the show started. In January 2015, she took part in the Channel 5 reality series Celebrity Big Brother, finishing in second place.
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. 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.
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. Hopkins gained and lost 3 stone (42 lb; 19 kg) over the course of the programme. TLC claimed an audience figure of 10 million in the UK and US for the programme.
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. The series was dropped in December, after the first series, owing to low audience ratings.
A Sunday morning talk show presented by Hopkins began on the LBC radio station during April 2016. She has previously worked as a guest presenter for the station. "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".
Columnist and other controversies
Since The Apprentice, Hopkins has frequently featured in the media for making controversial remarks, being described in several media outlets as a "professional troll". She has described herself as a "conduit for truth", declaring what other people think but are too scared to say. 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% readers wanted the feature to end.
At the end of October 2013, it emerged that Hopkins had joined The Sun as a weekly columnist. with the newspaper promoting her as "Britain's most controversial columnist". 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." Later in the year, Hopkins asserted that she had "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." At the same meeting, a Church and Media event in London, she described herself as being the "Jesus of the outspoken". She continued: "Jesus had his followers – I have 600,000 followers on Twitter. It’s about leading the way – I am the new Jesus."
She left The Sun for the Mail Online website, the online companion to the Daily Mail in autumn 2015. 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."
Hopkins caused controversy in July 2013 during an appearance on ITV's This Morning, when she revealed that 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. 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". A viewers' poll conducted by the This Morning programme indicated that 91% of respondents disagreed with Hopkins opinion.
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 in order to make money from media appearances. 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.
2013 Glasgow helicopter crash remarks
Hopkins posted a tweet referring to Scottish life expectancy predictions based upon a 2011 NHS 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." 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. ITV said in a statement on 5 December 2013 that "We have no plans for Katie Hopkins to appear on This Morning at this present time".
Ebola and Scotland comments
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." No evidence of criminality was found by the police.
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 mainly Pakistani men and white victims. In a series of tweets, she posted images of the felons with the caption "are these your friends too" allegedly implying that all other Pakistani men were also child abusers. On 29 March 2015, Hopkins was reported to the police by Labour MP Simon Danczuk for possible race hate crimes. In response, Hokpins said "I asked fair questions and I think it’s important that someone has the balls to speak out".
On 7 April 2015, Hopkins made a series of tweets suggesting that people with dementia are "bed blockers" who take up scarce hospital beds. Her comments were condemned by leading UK Alzheimer's charities.
On 17 April 2015, Hopkins wrote a column in The Sun comparing migrants to "cockroaches" and "feral humans" and said they were "spreading like the norovirus". Her remarks were condemned by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. In a statement released on 24 April 2015, High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein 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 organizations were subsequently convicted by an international tribunal of public incitement to commit genocide.
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. 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. 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. 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".
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. 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.
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.
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.
Hopkins wrote in the Daily Mail during December 2015 in defence of remarks made by American presidential candidate Donald Trump 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 about 'no go' areas of London, unlike Hopkins who asserted that Britain is in part "radicalised" and "it does nobody any favours to deny the obvious".
Cookery writer and anti-poverty campaigner, Jack Monroe threatened a libel action against Katie Hopkins after Hopkins mistakenly accused Monroe of vandalism to a war memorial, having confused Monroe with journalist Laurie Penny, who had written in support of that vandalism. Monroe called for an apology and a £5,000 donation to a migrants rescue charity. Hopkins later admitted that she was mistaken about the identity. Monroe began legal action in January 2016.
Camber Sands deaths
After five Londoners drowned at Camber Sands, Katie Hopkins tweeted a poll mocking the identities of the deceased. Sussex Police reported the tweet to Twitter under the headings of "abusive or harmful" and "disrespectful or offensive". They decided while the tweet was distasteful it was not criminal. The tweet was deleted.
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.
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 elevation of lingerie entrepreneur 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". 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. In November, students at Brunel University turned their backs on her, then walked out in protest at her presence in a debate.
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. 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.
Hopkins formerly suffered from epilepsy. In an interview for The Sun in 2015, she announced she was considering surgery to help prevent seizures. 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. Hopkins said in 2014 that her epilepsy had led her to be admitted to hospital on 26 occasions within 9 months. In February 2016, she underwent surgery in which a portion of her brain was removed in order to relieve the severity of the condition. Hopkins tweeted a month later that the operation was a success. "I am no longer an epileptic", she tweeted.
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|2007||8 Out of 10 Cats||Herself|
|2007||I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!||Herself|
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|2015||Celebrity Big Brother||Herself|
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