Case Law: Venables Anonymity Judgment

31 07 2010

On 30 July 2010 Mr Justice Bean handed down judgment concerning publication of  the new identity of Jon Venables and the location where Venables was living before his return to custody. The Judgment has been placed on the judiciary website together with the revised contra mundum injunction. Read the rest of this entry »





Opinion: “Court of Appeal overturns Reynolds defence in Flood” – Jonathan Coad

30 07 2010

In what appears to be the first Court of Appeal decision overturning a successful Reynolds defence, the decision of Mr Justice Tugendhat in the libel action brought against The Times by Met officer Detective Sergeant Flood was unanimously reversed by the Court of Appeal, who also rejected The Times’ cross appeal ([2010] EWCA Civ 804). Read the rest of this entry »





MBL/Inforrm Conference paper: NGOs and the Public Interest Defence by Jonathan Heawood

29 07 2010

I’ve been asked to speak today about NGOs and the public interest defence. I’d like to begin by clearing up some misconceptions about the role of NGOs in the libel debate generally.

NGOs

Contrary to some suggestions, NGOs such as Index on Censorship and English PEN are not here to represent the commercial interests of the media. We are not, in my view, ‘free speech fundamentalists’ or ‘absolutists’ as we are sometimes called. And we do not represent the collective interests of NGOs as such, although we have repeatedly raised the concerns of NGOs about the impact of libel law on their operations. Read the rest of this entry »





Opinion : Flood v Times Libel Ruling and Reynolds privilege by Siobhan Butterworth

28 07 2010

News that veteran media lawyer Alastair Brett has parted company with the Times so soon after the court of appeal ruled against the newspaper in the Flood case comes just as I am mulling over the impact of this significant libel judgment.

Those who thought the legal landscape was altered radically by Reynolds and Jameel appear to have been quite deluded. Reading the court of appeal’s judgment in Flood, I’m left wondering whether the defence of Reynolds privilege – also known as the responsible journalism defence and the Reynolds public interest defence – might be a figment of the imagination. There is a danger that this defence is only theoretically available and then only in a perfect world. Read the rest of this entry »





Venables: the Media fail in “unmasking” application

27 07 2010

After the torrent of media speculation about Jon Venables based on unattributed statements and innuendo, last Friday Jon Venables appeared in Court at the Old Bailey by Video Link from his prison and pleaded guilty to the three charges of downloading and distributing child pornography and was sentenced to prison for two years. Read the rest of this entry »





Case Law: “Gaunt v OFCOM – freedom of expression in broadcasting” – Dan Tench

26 07 2010

On 13 July, Sir Anthony May, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Mr Justice Blair handed down their judgment in R (Gaunt) v Ofcom.  The case concerned an explosive outburst by radio show host Jon Gaunt on his Talksport radio programme in November 2008.  Gaunt was interviewing Michael Stark, the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services for Redbridge London Borough Council. Read the rest of this entry »





Law and Media Round Up, 25 July 2010

25 07 2010

In this regular feature we draw attention to the last week’s law and media news and next week’s upcoming events. If readers have any news or events which they would like to draw attention to please add them by way of comments on this post.

News

The biggest media law story of the week concerned the conviction of Jon Venables for the possession of indecent image of children.  There has been a media feeding frenzy, culminating in a misconceived application to remove the anonymity orders which have been in place since 2001.   The legal issues are discussed in an article in the Guardian.  We will consider the case further in a post later in the week. Read the rest of this entry »





Case Preview: Joseph v Spiller

24 07 2010

On Monday 26 July and Tuesday 27 July 2010, the UK Supreme Court will hear the appeal in the “fair comment” case of Spiller v Joseph. This the first libel case to the heard by the Supreme Court.   This will be the first defamation case heard by the highest court since the decision of the House of Lords four years ago in Jameel v Wall Street Journal ([2006] UKHL 44).  Over the last 10 years of its existence the House of Lords only considered 6 mainstream defamation appeals.  The defence of fair comment was last considered by the House of Lords in Telnikoff v Matusevitch ([1992] 2 AC 343). Read the rest of this entry »





US Freedom of Expression and Media Law Roundup 23 July 2010

23 07 2010

A judge in Denver has ruled that a federal law making it illegal to lie about being a war hero is unconstitutional because it violates free speech. The case of USA v Rick Glen Strandlof, concerned a Colorado man who claimed he was an ex-Marine wounded in Iraq and had received the Purple Heart and Silver Star. The military had no record that Strandlof served.  He was charged with violating the Stolen Valor Act, which makes it illegal to falsely claim to have won a military medal. Read the rest of this entry »





False Privacy: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie action settles

22 07 2010

In February we reported on a claim being brought by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie against the “News of the World”.  The claim concerned a false front page story that they were splitting up and dividing their substantial joint wealth.   The story was inaccurate but not defamatory.  As a result, the couple brought an action for what is often call “false privacy”: disclosing private information which, although in fact untrue remains private (see McKennitt v Ash ([2006] EWCA Civ 1714, [86]).  A press release concerning the commencement of proceedings can be found on the website of the claimants’ solicitors, Schillings. Read the rest of this entry »








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