Donald Trump, Martin Shkreli or Richard Dawkins: Who was the most controversial figure of 2015?

On both sides of the Atlantic, celebrities and politicians incurred the scorn and unforgiving wrath of social media.

Ryan Ramgobin@ryanramgobin
Wednesday 30 December 2015 11:56
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The most controversial figures of 2015

As the year draws to a close there is no shortage of candidates vying for the title of most controversial figure of 2015.

Katie Hopkins talked her way in to trouble after proclaiming that fleeing refugees should be stopped “by gunships”.

She was also reported to the Metropolitan Police for allegedly inciting racial hatred after describing asylum seekers in her column in The Sun as “cockroaches” but no charges were brought.

An online petition to have her sacked launched in the wake of her comments reached more than 200,000.

Hopkins has thanked those who helped her on Twitter

This was not the only infamous petition of 2015. More than half a million people signed to block Donald Trump from entering the United Kingdom.

The Republican frontrunner has seen his popularity soar in spite of his divisive rhetoric against Muslims entering the United States in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting.

At his campaign launch, Mr Trump attacked Mexico, saying "they are sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists."

The comment received condemnation from Latino and Hispanic civil rights organisations.

Mr Trump has also been accused by Hillary Clinton's campaign team of "degrading" women.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the crowd during a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Rebecca Francis, an experienced huntress was sent death wishes by furious social media users after a picture showing her lying down next to a dead giraffe was circulated.

A photo of Francis lying next to the corpse of a giraffe posted by the comedian Ricky Gervais on Monday was re-tweeted over 14,000 times. His tweet was quickly followed by users sharing their disgust at her hunting activities.

Michelle Mone was blasted for tweeting that people should never “look for excuses” and “be proactive” a day after voting to oppose delays to tax credit cuts.

It was her first vote in the House of Lords; many took to Twitter to voice their anger at what they considered to be a “betrayal to Glasgow roots”.

Baroness Mone credits the pills for helping her lose six stone

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins came under fire after he publicly hit out against American schoolboy Ahmed Mohamed, whose arrest after a clock he built was mistaken for a bomb sparked international outrage.

In a series of posts on Twitter, Professor Dawkins suggested 14-year-old Ahmed might have "wanted to be arrested", and criticised the boy for claiming the clock was his "invention".

He said Ahmed appeared to have bought a clock and taken it out of its case to impress his teachers, adding: "Police played into his hands? Now invited to White House, crowdfunded, etc."

Prof Dawkins later backtracked after other users pointed out Ahmed is "just a kid".

Martin Shkreli, founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals, was dubbed the “most hated man in America” after he raised the price of HIV medication, Daraprim, from $13.50 to $750 – a 5000% increase.

Last week, Mr Shkreli was arrested on fraud charges relating to his time as a hedge-fund manager.

He believes authorities have succumbed to public pressure. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said “trying to find anything we could to stop him, was the attitude of the government”.

“Beating the person up and then trying to find the merits to make up for it – I would have hoped the government wouldn’t take that kind of approach.”

Shkreli is escorted from his building by FBI agents

There was confusion over the race of civil rights activist, Rachel Dolezal.

In the summer, it emerged the one-time president of the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was the daughter of a white Montana couple.

She went on to defend her actions in numerous interviews denying that she was dishonest and claimed to “identify as black.”

But, perhaps the most controversial individual of 2015 was a hunting enthusiast from Minnesota.

Dentist, Walter Palmer was pictured with the carcass of Cecil the Lion – the most famous attraction at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.

Walt Palmer, left, who killed Cecil the Zimbabwean lion

Sir David Attenborough called Cecil’s death a sign of the ‘terrible state of the human psyche’.

While celebrities like Ricky Gervais and Cara Delevingne blasted Mr Palmer on social media.

A petition to the White House was signed by over 230,000 people to ‘Extradite Minnesotan Walter James Palmer to face justice in Zimbabwe.’

His response was so hostile when he returned to the United States that he was forced to close his dental surgery for a month and hired armed security.

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