Media law news this week was dominated by the Tulisa privacy injunction and the long-awaited judgment in Flood v Times Newspapers. Tulisa used a YouTube video, which has now attracted over 3.5 million views, to “set the record straight” following the leak and publication of a private video.
BBC News reported on how the video in question was removed from one website here. Meanwhile, it was a good week for the Reynolds Defence – and the Times: a unanimous Supreme Court decision ( UKSC 11) allowed the appeal of Times Newspapers Limited against an earlier Court of Appeal decision ( EWCA Civ 804).
The Leveson Inquiry continued its interrogation of the relationship between police and journalists in its fourteenth week. The week opened with evidence from a retired criminal investigator David Harrison, who alleged that the News of the World had “jeopardised” the police Ipswich murder inquiry in 2006 with its own surveillance operation. The Independent reported on the claims here.
The Guardian’s story that voicemail “messages were deleted by [NoW] journalists in the first few days after Milly [Dowler's] disappearance in order to free up space for more messages“, now accepted as “unlikely to have been correct“, has proved a divisive issue between journalists on Twitter and elsewhere and last week James Murray, associate editor for News at the Sunday Express, argued the Guardian’s claims had damaged police relationships with the press, saying all trust had been “blown out of the water”. Natalie Peck reported these and other developments at the Leveson Inquiry here.
As also noted in our ‘Parliament’ section below, the Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions is due to release its report at 00:01am tomorrow.
Additionally, according to the BBC, the former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott “will lead an attempt to make a similar argument that privacy and defamation should be exempted from the compensation culture reforms” during House of Lords Oral Questions and the third reading of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill on Tuesday 27 March.
Ted Beckham, father of footballer David, is the latest claimant to sue News International over allegations of voicemail interception. Press Gazette reports here.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There was a statement in open court on 21 March 2012 in the case of Ansari v Knowles.
This is a claim by Mr Khalid Ansari against Vilnius University and other defendants concerning serious allegations made about Mr Ansari during his time as an employee of Manchester Metropolitan University. There is a news story about the case on the website of the claimant’s solicitors.
Journalism and regulation
Following the Daily Mail’s successful night at the Press Awards, the New Yorker has published a lengthy feature on the Daily Mail’s rise to “the most powerful newspaper in Britain“, available here. Journalist Lauren Collins interviewed editor Paul Dacre (“he still doesn’t have a computer in his office“) and Mail Online editor Martin Clarke. Private Eye gave an insider’s account of her visit to morning conference in issue 1309. Another interesting link features the Daily Mail in the late 1960s: blogger Jack Dyson has reproduced a memo from editor Mike Randall to all staff, concerning journalists’ ethical behaviour.
The PCC has not made any new adjudications during its transition period, but there are several resolved cases to report: Mr Philip Bovey v The Independent, Clause 12, 26/03/2012; Mr Nic Bullough v Southern Daily Echo, Clause 1, 23/03/2012; Mr Freddie Wright v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 23/03/2012; Dr John Glasspool v The Daily Telegraph, Clause 1, 23/03/2012; The Scottish Refugee Council v Scottish Daily Mail, Clause 1, 23/03/2012; Ms Lucy Buckingham v Southport Visiter, Clause 6, 9, 21/03/2012; South Lanarkshire Council v Lanark Gazette, Clause 1, 20/03/2012; A woman v The Scotsman, Clause 6, 9, 19/03/2012; Cameron Butland v Westmorland Gazette, Clause 1, 19/03/2012; Mr Joe Hughes v The Sun, Clause 1, 19/03/2012; Mrs Patricia Woodcock v Selby Times, Clause 5, 19/03/2012; A woman v The Sunday Times, Clause 1, 19/03/2012.
The body has also published a draft proposal “for the future structure of a new system of self-regulation“, written by Lord Hunt, PCC chairman. This can be downloaded as a PDF here. Dr Damian Tambini reflects on the proposal here, asking “metaphor or reality“? Press Gazette has a report on criticisms made about Hunt’s proposals in the Commons here. The Hansard report from 22 March is here. Shadow Culture Minister, Harriet Harman, said:
“The harrowing evidence at the Leveson inquiry from victims of phone hacking and other abuse by the press means that we all want a new press complaints system, which must be independent of politicians and editors and able to enforce its rulings on all newspapers. Does the Minister [Ed Vaizey, culture minister] recognise that the proposals being put forward by Lord Hunt, chair of the Press Complaints Commission, fail to meet either of those tests? Until they do, they will amount to nothing more than a change of name and business as usual. That will simply not be acceptable.simply not be acceptable.”
Research & resources
- ‘Freedom of Information and the seven year itch’ – by Timothy Pitt-Payne QC, 11KBW, a paper at the 11KBW Information law seminar on 15th March 2012. Download PDF.
- Mapping Russian Twitter, by John Kelly, Vladimir Barash, Karina Alexanyan, Bruce Etling, Robert Faris, Urs Gasser, and John Palfrey. Part of a series of papers released by the Berkman Center’s project studying the Impact of the Internet on Russian Politics, Media, and Society.
- Blogging and Tweeting without Getting Sued: A global guide to the law for anyone writing online by Dr Mark Pearson, based at Bond University, Australia. It is available for Kindle purchase in the UK here. A paperback version will be released on 1 April.
- McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists (21st edition) by Mark Hanna and Mike Dodd will be launched this week. It is available for pre-order here.
In the Courts
On 15 March 2012 partial permission to appeal was given by Dame Janet Smith in the case of Waterson v Lloyds. The case can be found on Case Tracker.
On Monday 19 March 2012, Tugendhat J reserved judgment on hearing of the return date in the non-media privacy injunction case of SKA v CRH. The injunction was continued.
On the same day Tugendhat J granted an interim injunction in the case of Contostavlos v Mendahun – the claim brought by the singer and X-factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos arising out the internet publication of a “sex tape”. Inforrm had a post about this injunction here. There is a “return date” on 26 March 2011.
On Tuesday 20 March 2012 Tugendhat J reserved judgment following the hearing of the adjourned strike out application in the case of Jeeg Global v Hare.
On Wednesday 21 March 2012, the Supreme Court gave its long awaited judgment in the Reynolds qualified privilege case of Flood v Times Newspapers, (heard 17 and 18 October 2011). The judgment (PDF) and press summary (PDF) can be found at these links. There was an Inforrm case comment.
26 March 2012, 18:30: Panel debate – The best of times or worst of times? What lessons can we learn from Leveson and the hacking scandal? City University London.
28 March 2012, Index Freedom of Expression Awards 2012, London.
29 March 2012, 09:30-17:30, London Legal Training’s Seventh Annual Media, Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law Conference, London.
2 April 2012, 6.30pm, William Patry: “What Would an Evidence-Based Copyright Law Look Like?”, London School of Economics.
Tuesday 3 April 2012, 6 – 7pm, IBIL Seminar What would leadership in copyright policy look like? Speaker: William F Patry (Chief Copyright Counsel, Google Inc.) Chair: The Rt Hon Prof. Sir Robin Jacob. UCL, London.
25 April 2012: IBC Legal’s 19th Annual, Defamation & Privacy 2012, Crowne Plaza Hotel London – The City.
Know of any media law events happening in April? Please let Inforrm know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
In Tropeano v Karidis  SADC 29 the District Court of South Australia dismissed a claim for slander, finding that the words complained of had not been spoken by the defendant.
In Simao v. Hankook Ilbo, 2012 ONCA 175 the Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal against a jury finding that the words complained of were not defamatory. The Court held that the plaintiff could not demonstrate that the jury’s verdict was perverse.
The Irish Times reports that a football coach who claimed he was defamed in text messages after “reassuringly embracing one of his trainees“, has been awarded €15,000 in damages in the Circuit Court. The Irish Independent has a report here.
A new legal case involving Gordon Ramsay to report – from Canada. He is seeking compensation for alleged defamatory comments made in the Montreal Gazette, as part of a lawsuit against his former business partners in Laurier Gordon Ramsay, according to this CTV report.
An Armenian case before the European Court of Human Rights raises issues about a state’s ability prohibit the publication of “false news”. The Media Legal Defence Initiative has submitted an Intervention in Dareskizb v. Armenia, which can be downloaded here. MLDI legal officer, Nani Jansen, described the case in an Inforrm post here.
US-based lawyer Stephen J Easley recently reported on a session at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival panel in Texas, “Can You Tweet That? Social Media and the Law”. Easley describes how Dara Quackenbush, a lecturer at Texas State University, “gave attendees a crash course on fundamental social media legal issues“.
The president of Mauritius, Sir Aneerood Jagnauth, has called for reform to allow the establishment of independent television broadcasters, Mike Dodd reports for Index on Censorship.
South African author and Nobel Prize for literature winner Nadine Gordimer has warned that “new legislation will return South Africa to apartheid-era limits on free speech”, drawing attention to the Protection of State Information Bill. A feature in the Saturday telegraph by Justin Cartwright described:
“[Gordimer] wants it understood that South Africa has a wonderful constitution and a world-class Bill of Rights. All that is required is that these should be honoured; they are South Africa’s secular religion, but the government with its Protection of State Information Bill – aka The Secrecy Bill – is intent on subverting them. The bill is a sham designed to hide widespread corruption, by giving any organ of the state the ability to decide what constitutes the protection of state information; ministers will be able to prosecute and jail offenders.”
Gordimer also took part in Andrew Marr’s ‘Start the Week’ programme on Radio 4 last Monday, which can be listened to here.
Next week in the courts
On Monday 26 March 2012, Bean J will give judgment in the “Twitter libel” case of Cairns v Modi (a trial reported by Gevase de Wilde for Inforrm here) . On the same day Tugendhat J will hear the return date application in the case of Contostavlos v Mendahun.
On Monday in the Court of Appeal at 10am Moore-Bick LJ will hear a renewed application for permission to appeal by the defendant against the decision of Tugendhat J ordering trial by judge alone in the case of Bento v Chief Constable. The application was refused on paper by Sir Richard Buxton on 6 March 2012.
On Friday 30 March 2012 Bean J will hear the Pre-Trial Review in the case of Bento v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire. The trial is due to commence on 23 April 2012.
On the same day HHJ Moloney QC will hand down judgment in the case of McGrath & anr v Dawkins (heard heard 10 and 11 November 2011).
Next week at the Leveson Inquiry
Monday 26 March 2012, 10:00 – 16:30: Colin Adwent (Crime Reporter East Anglia Daily Times); Chief Constable Simon Ash (Suffolk Constabulary); Anne Campbell (Head of Corporate Communications, Norfolk and Suffolk Police); Nick Griffiths (Carlisle News and Star); Terry Hunt (East Anglian Daily Times); Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey (MPS, former Chief Constable Cumbria Constabulary); Anne Pickles (Carlisle News and Star); Gillian Shearer (Head of Marketing and Communications, Cumbria Constabulary). To be read: DCS Iain Goulding (Cumbria Constabulary).
Tuesday 27 March 2012, 10.00 – 16.30: Barbara Brewis (Media and Marketing Durham Constabulary); Amanda Hirst (Head of Corporate Communications Avon and Somerset Police); DCI Philip Jones (Avon and Somerset Constabulary); Assistant Chief Constable Jerry Kirkby (Surrey Police); Chief Constable Colin Port (Avon and Somerset Constabulary); Chief Constable Jonathan Stoddart (Durham Constabulary).
Wednesday 28 March 2012, 10.00 – 16.30: Chief Constable Matthew Baggott (PSNI); Joanne Bird (Head of Media and Marketing BTP); Oliver Cattermole (Director of Communications ACPO); Jane Furniss (CEO, IPCC); Sir Hugh Orde (President of ACPO); Chief Constable Andrew Trotter (BTP); Liz Young (Head of Corporate Communications PSNI). To be read: Sir Paul Stephenson (former MPS).
Thursday 29 March 2012, 10.00-16.30: Catherine Crawford (Chief Executive of the Metropolitan Police Authority) Chief Constable Mike Cunningham (Staffordshire Police); Ian Fegan (Head of Corporate Communication Staffordshire Police); Kit Malthouse (Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime); Julie Norgrove (Director of Audit Risk and Assurance Metropolitan Police Authority); Ben Priestley (Unison). To be read: Ian Marratt (Surrey Police).
Next week in Parliament
The House of Commons will be in recess from Wednesday 28 March. The House will next sit on Monday 16 April 2012.
The House of Lords will be in recess from Thursday 29 March. The House will next sit on Monday 23 April 2012.
Tuesday 27 March 2012, 10.30am: Justice select committee, Post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Witness(es): Professor the Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield, and Lord O’Donnell GCB; Gordon Wanless, NHS Business Service Authority, Sue Slipman, Foundation Trust Network, Wyn Taylor, Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, and Julian Brooke, NHS South of England. Location: The Grimond Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons.
The Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions will publish its Report of Session 2010-12, Privacy and Injunctions (HL Paper 273 & HC 1443), on Tuesday 27 March 2012 at 00:01am. This will be available on the Committee’s website. The Guardian anticipated the report’s release here.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
Levy v. Coomber heard 9 and 16 November 2011 (HHJ Moloney QC)
El-Naschie v Macmillan, heard 11, 14, 16 to 18, 21, 22, 25, 28-30 November, 1 -2 December 2011 (Sharp J)
Woodrow v Johansson, heard 19 January 2012 (HHJ Parkes QC)
Ashcroft v Foley heard 1 and 2 February 2012, (Pill and Elias LJJ and Sharp J).
R (Guardian News and Media Limited) v City of Westminster Magistrates Court, heard 7 February 2012 (Master of the Rolls, Hooper and Toulson LJJ).
Chambers v DPP, heard 8 February 2012 (Gross LJ and Irwin J).
Qema v NGN Ltd heard 29 February and 1 March 2012 (Sharp J).
Hunt v Times Newspapers, heard 9 and 12 March 2012 (Eady J).
SKA v CRH, heard 19 March 2012 (Tugendhat J)
Jeeg Global v Hare, heard 20 March 2012 (Tugendhat J)
Also on Inforrm last week
- News: Appeal heard in Canadian “no defamation in a blogging dialogue” case, judgment reserved
- Opinion: Defamation Bill, Progress Report – Andrew Stephenson
- Practice: Without notice injunction procedure – a further warning for practitioners
- Case Law: R (Lord Carlile) v Secretary of State, Stifling Parliament? – Alex Bailin QC
- Case Law: Kennedy v. Charity Commission, The right to receive information; journalists and inquiries – David Hart QC
- News: Hacked Off’s Motorman disclosure campaign: update – Brian Cathcart
This week’s Round Up was compiled for Inforrm by Judith Townend, a freelance journalist and PhD researcher examining legal restraints on the media, who runs the Meeja Law blog. She is @jtownend on Twitter. Please send suggestions, tips and event listings for inclusion in future round ups to email@example.com.