Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been ordered to pay almost a billion dollars for claiming the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax.
Jones has been notorious for claiming the attack, one of the deadliest school shootings in US history, was staged by gun control activists using actors – though he has since acknowledged it was real.
But who exactly is Alex Jones and why is he infamous? Sky News takes a look at some of the right-wing personality’s most controversial statements.
Who is Alex Jones?
Alex Jones, 48, is a right-wing conservative figure hailing from Austin in Texas.
After leaving high school in 1993 he started working in cable TV, filling in for absent hosts, and became known for his conspiracy theories.
When a bomb went off in a terror attack in Oklahoma City in 1995, Jones claimed that the government was behind it.
“I understood there’s a kleptocracy working with psychopathic governments – clutches of evil that know the tricks of control,” he said.
What is InfoWars?
In 1999 he co-founded a website called InfoWars, which became a popular online destination for fake news and conspiracy theories reportedly racking up 10 million monthly visits in 2017.
A quick look at the website – which includes the tagline “There’s a war on for your mind!” – shows wild claims about COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine.
Earlier this year the parent company of InfoWars – Free Speech Systems LLC – filed for bankruptcy as Jones faced a lawsuit brought by Sandy Hook families.
The move – described as “delaying the inevitable” by a lawyer representing families – put civil litigation on hold while the company reorganises its finances.
What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School?
On 14 December, 2012, Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 students and six teachers in Newtown, Connecticut.
The tragedy led to an outpouring of grief at yet another mass shooting in America, but despite the lives lost it has been incredibly rare for US Congress to cooperate and pass gun control legislation.
The Sandy Hook massacre is one of the most deadly school shootings in US history.
What did Alex Jones say about Sandy Hook?
Jones has admitted calling Sandy Hook parents “crisis actors” on his show and saying the shooting was “phoney as a three-dollar bill”.
His shows had portrayed the Sandy Hook shooting as staged as part of gun control efforts.
He also said: “You’ve got parents laughing – “hahaha” – and then they walk over to the camera and go “boo hoo hoo,” and not just one but a bunch of parents doing this and then photos of kids that are still alive they said died?
“I mean, they think we’re so dumb”.
So far, courts in Texas and Connecticut have found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook shooting as a hoax.
His most recent court appearances have been in front of a jury in the Connecticut trial who were deciding how much he should pay.
During one of his trials, family members of the victims gave emotional testimony describing how they endured death threats, in-person harassment and abusive comments on social media. Some moved away to avoid the abuse.
Earlier this year a jury in Texas ordered Jones to pay $4.1m (£3.3m) in damages to the parents of a six-year-old boy who was killed at Sandy Hook.
What legal troubles has Alex Jones had?
As well as being sued by parents of Sandy Hook victims, Jones has a rather chequered history when it comes to legal troubles over things he has said.
In 2017 he apologised after promoting the “Pizzagate” fake story that a Washington pizza restaurant was the locale of a child sex abuse ring run by Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, the Washington Post reported.
In 2018 he was served with a lawsuit over a car attack that killed anti-racist protester Heather Heyer at the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.
He was accused of claiming that the attack was actually staged by the CIA in order to undermine President Donald Trump.