The former chairman of the Indian Premier League Lalit Modi has been ordered to pay £90,000 damages in a libel action brought by cricketer Chris Cairns, over tweets published in early 2010. As Gervase de Wilde reported for Inforrm, it has been one of the most high profile libel cases of the past 12 months. In a judgment given on Monday March 26 ( EWHC 756 (QB)), Bean J also granted the additional remedy of an injunction to the Claimant. There is an interesting legal and cricketing commentary on the Defamation Watch blog.
A public hearing in the Tulisa Contostavlos v Michael Mendahun and others case took place last Monday and the order was continued. On 29 March 2012 Tugendhat J handed down a judgment explaining his reasons for granting and continuing the order ( EWHC 850 (QB)). Inforrm has a new case comment here.
Nathaniel Rothschild is seeking permission to appeal against a libel ruling  EWHC 177 (QB) (10 February 2012) in favour of Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, reports PA Media Lawyer.
“The Committee comes out against a privacy statute and commends the approach now being taken by the courts … it supports the ‘PCC 2.0′ approach to media regulation and suggests that, for the present, there should be no statutory backing for the new regulator.“
Freedom of speech advocates and activists were celebrated at this year’s Index on Censorship awards last Wednesday. The winners included Azerbaijani journalist Idrak Abbasov (Guardian journalism award), Bahrain Center for Human Rights (Advocacy Award sponsored by Bindmans), Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat (Arts Award), Freedomfone (Innovation Award sponsored by Google) and the Research and Information Centre Memorial (Index 40th Anniversary award).
A speech by Lady Justice Arden made at Cardiff Law School on 15 March, discusses “Media Intrusion and Human Rights: Striking the Balance”. It was published by Judiciary.gov.uk last week [PDF].
Bill Patry, chief copyright counsel at Google is in town (see ‘Events’). He will be talking to the Open Rights Group and at the LSE on Tuesday and at UCL on Wednesday. “He’s an outspoken critic of the mess that lobbying and special interests have created,” says ORG’s executive director Jim Killock, promising an “exciting and provocative talk“.
“the Leveson Inquiry continued the examination of the relationship between the police and the press, with appearances from deputy London mayor Kit Malthouse, the regional press, a number of chief constables from regional forces and the Independent Police Complaints Commission“.
The Queen’s Speech is likely to include proposals for allowing cameras in court, according to The Times. Kenneth Clarke said that changes would “contribute, valuably albeit incrementally, to justice“, it reports. The Ministry of Justice has not confirmed the report and said that the suggestion was “speculation“, according to PA Media Lawyer (subscription). The Times also published an essay by the winner of the Times/One Essex Court Law Awards, James Potts, a pupil at 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square: ‘Cameras in court: justice’s loss or gain?’.
This round up will be published a day too late for April Fools, but The Huffington Post has a round up of the Sunday papers’ efforts here.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There was a statement in open court on 29 March 2012 in the case of Gascoigne v Associated Newspapers Ltd. The claim was brought by Sheryl Gascoigne against the Daily Mail. There is a news item about the statement on Sky News.
Journalism and regulation
A woman’s complaint to the PCC against the Daily Mirror has been upheld, under clauses 6 (children) and 9 (reporting of crime), over an article published in the Daily Mirror on 4 January 2011 headlined “Partners in hate”, which had identified her child. The adjudication states:
“The article under complaint was a feature on Gary Dobson and David Norris, who had recently been convicted of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. It identified the complainant as the former partner of Gary Dobson and included the name and age of their son, who was under sixteen.”
The complainant’s additional complaints were not upheld, regarding a Clause 9 and Clause 3 (privacy) breach in the article of 4 January and another article, published on 5 January 2011 and headlined “The Eltham 5: WAGS, houses and flash cars”, based on information from her Facebook page. The full decision can be read here.
There are a number of resolved cases to report, including: Mr Phillip Scofield v Best, Clause 1, 30/03/2012; Mr Craig Whittaker MP v Halifax Evening Courier, Clause 1, 29/03/2012; A woman v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 28/03/2012; A man v Daily Mail, clause 1, 3, 5, 28/03/2012; Mr Nathan Roberts v Daily Mail, clause 1, 2, 28/03/2012; Mr Andrew Morgan v The Sun, clause 1, 28/03/2012; Mr Philip Bovey v The Independent, clause 12, 26/03/2012.
Investigative journalists are no longer given adequate airtime or resources to dig up miscarriages of justice, according to a new publication, ‘Wrongly accused: who is responsible for investigating miscarriages of justice?’ by The Justice Gap [PDF]. There is a report on Meeja Law and more information about the collection of essays by lawyers, academics and journalists can be found on the Justice Gap website.
Rising Voices, a Global Voices Online project, has awarded micro-grants to six new citizen media projects around the world, which will help them “implement their proposed project to teach others how to use various citizen media tools“. The winning projects include one from Burma/Thailand, ‘Karen Language Podcasts on the Border’ and the ‘Aché Digital Community’ in Paraguay.
Research & resources
As noted last week, the 21st edition of ‘McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists’ by Mike Dodd and Mark Hanna has launched. Lord Hunt, chair of the Press Complaints Commission gave the keynote at a seminar marking its publication on Friday. Inforrm had a short post about the history of the title and its first author Leonard McNae here.
To mark its 40th anniversary Index on Censorship and publisher SAGE has opened up the Index magazine archive for free for 40 days from 26 March. It can be accessed from this link.
- ‘The media coverage of court proceedings in Europe: Striking a balance between freedom of expression and fair process‘ – by Tatiana-Eleni Synodinou, Computer Law & Security Review, Volume 28, Issue 2, April 2012, Pages 208-219 (subscription required)
- ‘Tidying Up the Internet: Take Down of Unauthorized Content under Copyright, Trademark and Defamation Law’ (March 26, 2012) – by Jon Garon. Available at SSRN.
- ‘Here and Now: UK hyperlocal media today’ by Damian Radcliffe for NESTA [PDF]
In the Courts
As noted above, on Monday 26 March 2012, Bean J gave judgment in the “Twitter libel” case of Cairns v Modi and awarded the claimant £90,000 in damages. There was an Inforrm case comment about the case.
On the same day Moore-Bick LJ gave the defendant permission to appeal in the case of Bento v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire. The appeal will be heard on Tuesday 3 April 2012.
On Tuesday 27 March 2012 Tugendhat J gave judgment in the case of SKA v CRH, (heard 19 March 2012)  EWHC 766 (QB).
On Wednesday 28 March 2012, Tugendhat J handed down three reserved judgments: in the cases of Jeeg Global v Hare (heard 20 March 2012), Church v MGN  EWHC 693 (QB) (heard 15 March 2012) and Citation v Ellis Whittam (No.2)  EWHC 764 (QB) (heard 14 March 2012).
As noted above, on Thursday 29 March 2012 Tugendhat J gave judgment in the case of Contostavlos v Mendahun ( EWHC 850 (QB)).
On Friday 30 March 2012 Bean J heard 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 Tugendhat J heard an application for permission to amend in the case of Modi v Clarke.
2 April 2012, 1pm, William Patry, Open Rights Group talk, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, 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: email@example.com.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
The Finkelstein Report (see Inforrm post) provoked a “harrumphing chorus“, writes Alan Kohler on the Business Spectator, in a post assessing its recommendations for Australian media regulation reform. In this post, Wendy Bacon, a journalist at the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism at the University of Technology, Sydney, takes issue with The Australian’s coverage.
Journalist Yousef Shayeb was arrested in Palestine last week over libel actions brought by foreign minister Riyad al-Malki and Hael Al Fahoum, head of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in France. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reports here.
A Jamaican court has awarded 35 million Jamaican dollars (approx. £253,240) to a former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Owen Clunie, in his libel case against the former Police Commissioner, Francis Forbes and the Attorney General’s Office. The Go Jamaica website has a report here.
Next week in the courts
On Monday 2 April 2012 Tugendhat J will give judgment in the case of BUQ v HRE. The claimant is a “businessman” and the claim relates, inter alia, to private information contained in text messages. HRE works for a “subsidiary company”.
On the same day Eady J will hear applications in the case of Ansari v Knowles. There is a news story about the case on the website of the claimant’s solicitors.
On Tuesday 3 April 2012 the Court of Appeal will hear an appeal in the libel case of Bento v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire. This is an appeal by the defendant against Tugendhat J’s order for trial by judge alone.
On the same day the Court of Appeal (Master of the Rolls, Hooper and Toulson LJJ) will give judgment in the case of R (Guardian News and Media Limited) v City of Westminster Magistrates Court which was heard on 7 February 2012.
On Wednesday 4 April 2012, the Court of Appeal (Pill and Elias LJJ and Sharp J) is due to hand down judgment in Ashcroft v Foley & Independent (heard 1 and 2 February 2012).
Next week at the Leveson Inquiry
Monday 2 April 2012, 10:00 – 16:30: Mark Burns- Williamson (Chairman, Association of Police Authorities); Stewart Gull (Jersey States Police and Former ACC Suffolk Constabulary); Paul McKeever (Chairman, Police Federation); Nathan Oley (Head of Press and Public Affairs, Association of Police Authorities); Neil Wallis (formerly of News of the World). To be read: T/ACC Russell Middleton (Operation Reproof, Devon and Cornwall Police); DCI Brendan Gilmour (Operation Glade, MPS).
Tuesday 3 April 2012, 10:00 – 16:30: Derek Barnett (Police Superintendents Association); Dr Rob Mawby (Department of Criminology University of Leicester); Lucy Panton (formerly of News of the World). To be read: Karl Wissgott, (Head of PNC Services, MPIA). 14:00 – 16:30: Directions Hearing for Module 3.
Wednesday 4 April, TBC 09:15 – 16:30: David Perry QC; Lord MacDonald (former DPP); Keir Starmer (DPP).
Next week in Parliament
The House of Commons began its recess from Wednesday 28 March. The House will next sit on Monday 16 April 2012.
The House of Lords began its recess from Thursday 29 March. The House will next sit on Monday 23 April 2012.
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)
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).
Also on Inforrm last week
- ‘Free comment on private lives under the Defamation Bill’? – Gavin Phillipson
- Press regulation on a sinking ship – Rosalind English
- Case Law: KC v MGN, an offer of amends assessment at the top of the scale
- CCMR Media Regulation Proposal – A “News Publishing Commission”
- Opinion: Let’s get over this terror of the word ‘statutory’ – Brian Cathcart
- News: Flood v Times Newspapers, Lord Mance’s Summary on Hand-down
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Inforrm Law and Media Round Up will be taking an Easter break. The next one will be published on 16 April 2012.