This week was the first of Leveson Module 4. The first witnesses were Lords Black and Hunt, setting out their proposal for regulation without statutory intervention. A number of commentators have found their Lordships “philosophical” opposition to statute hard to follow. In the “Guardian” Dan Sabbagh asked whether it was wise for all concerned to try and dodge a Leveson bill. Brian Cathcart argued that Lord Black was appealing to our instinct to say “I just don’t trust politicians” but went to ask “do we trust the editors and proprietors of the national papers any more? Look at their record”.
There was a report in the FT about Lord Black’s warning that publishers might decided to challenge any statutory basis to the new system in the courts.
There were also reports of the evidence from Michelle Stanistreet of the NUJ (who urged the Inquiry to seize the “golden opportunity” to reform the press), Martin Moore, Roy Greenslade, Professor John Horgan the Ombudsman to the Irish Press Council (who said that press freedom was unharmed by Ireland’s statutory regulation) and Hugh Tomlinson QC (who also favoured a statute backed scheme).
Meanwhile, in the “Guardian” Dan Sabbagh argues that the Inquiry has not probed sufficiently into press finances or economic pressures.
The police operations arising of the phone hacking scandal show no signs of coming to a swift conclusion. The Press Gazette reported that on 11 July 2012 officers from Operation Eleveden arrested Sunday Mirror crime reporter Justin Penrose and Tom Savage, deputy editor of the Daily Star Sunday. A spokesman for the Met said the arrests related
“to suspected payments to a public official and are not about seeking journalists to reveal confidential sources in relation to information that has been obtained legitimately“.
The men were later released on bail. These two arrests follow last week’s arrest of former Mirror journalist Grieg Box Turnbull by Operation Eleveden officers – the first arrest of non-News International journalists. The Press Gazette reports that Fleet Street insiders fear “ domino effect”. These arrests bring the Operation Eleveden total to 42 – following the arrest of two ex-NHS workers on 5 July 2012.
Meanwhile, Roy Greenslade has a post entitled “One year on … what happened to the News of the World’staff?”. One Graham Johnson has, apparently, written a book, Hack: sex, drugs and scandal from inside the tabloid jungle, another has re-trained as a plumber …
The remarkable John Terry trial has produced a huge amount of newspaper coverage. We will not comment on the strange decision to prosecute or the curious nature of the successful defence (repetition of abuse which, according to the District Judge, probably never happened). The case produced a torrent of comments on Twitter which, as David Banks pointed out in the “Guardian” gave rise to interesting contempt of court issues.
In an article in the Guardian Niri Shan and Tim Pinto of Taylor Wessing – who acted for “Nature” in the El-Naschie case – argue that the Defamation Bill is unlikely to make a jot of difference when it comes to scientific free speech.
David Allen Green has a piece in the “New Statesman” entitled “What ‘freedom of the press’ should mean” – bloggers as the new pamphleteers.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
On 12 July 2012 there was a statement in open court in the privacy case of Contostavlos v Mendahun. We had a post about the statement.
Journalism and regulation
The PCC published one adjudication this week: A married couple v Camberley News and Mail, A married couple complained that an article headlined “Sweet result for Mica’s charity stall”, published in the Camberley News and Mail on 2 March 2012, had intruded into their teenage daughter’s privacy in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The complaint was upheld.
Recently resolved complaints include: Mr John Lander Derbyshire Times Giles Jackson Scotland on Sunday, The Professional Interpreters’ Alliance The Daily Telegraph, Mr Syed Ahmed, Daily Mail, David Brown Sunday Life, A man Swindon Advertiser, Jarvis The Daily Telegraph, A woman Newtownards Chronicle.
In the Courts
On Monday 9 July 2012, Tugendhat J heard an application in the case of Contostavlos v Mendahun. There was a statement in open court announcing the settlement of the claim against Justin Edwards on 12 July 2012 – we had a post about it.
On Tuesday and Wednesday 10 and 11 July 2012 the privacy trial in the case of SKA v CRH took place in private before Nicola Davies J. Judgment was reserved.
On 10 July 2012, Tugendhat J heard the case of and Tilbrook v Parr. Judgment was delivered on 13 July 2012 ( EWHC1946 (QB))
On 11 July 2012, there was an applications in the case of Qadir v Associated Newspapers (in which there is due to be a trial of a preliminary issue on privilege in the week commencing 23 July 2012). These concerned amendment and malice and were adjourned to the trial of the preliminary issue next week.
On 12 July 2012, Tugendhat J handed down judgment in the case of EWQ v GFD  EWHC1907 (QB) (heard on 6 July 2012).
On 13 July 2012 the European Court of Human Rights delivered judgment in the case of Mouvement Raëlien Suisse v. Switzerland App No. 6354/06). The application was dismissed, no violation of Article 10 being found.
The applications in the case of case of Singh v Singh and the CMC in the Voice Mail interception litigation before Vos J were both adjourned.
17 July 2012, 8:30-10am, Responsibility for defamatory user generated content: the changing landscape, Field Fisher Waterhouse, 35 Vine Street, London, EC3N 2PX.
19 July 2012, 7.00-8.30pm, “What will Lord Justice Leveson conclude about the future of the British Press?”, Frontline Club, Panel Includes Brian Cathcart and David Aaronovitch.
1-27 August, 5pm, Comedy: ‘One Rogue Reporter‘, Rich Peppiatt / Something for the Weekend, Edinburgh Festival.
Know of any media law events happening in July / August? Please let Inforrm know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert C Post, “Social Foundations of Defamation Law: Reputation and the Constitution”, California Law Review, Vol 74, Issue 3.
Kyu Ho Youm, “The ‘Neutral Reportage’ Doctrine in English Law”, October 15, 2010.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Canada: The Student Press Law Center reports that a Canadian hockey club has brought libel proceedings against the University of Michigan’s student newspaper in an Ontario court Tuesday, following a story that alleged the team offered money to a UM-bound player
South Africa. The Guardian reports an IPSOS poll finding that nearly half of South Africans say that the Government’s proposed protection of state information bill (pdf), would make it easier for government officials to hide corruption
Sri Lanka. Reuters reports that the Government will amend a decades-old media law in order to bring in all news websites and electronic media under regulation.
United States: According to UPI, a libel insurance issue has derailed the pending release of a documentary entitled “Unlawful Killing” about a supposed coverup of the death of Princess Diana. “Unlawful Killing” has been shelved permanently after its producers were unable to obtain insurance that would indemnify them from potential lawsuits involving the film’s contents.
Next week in the courts
On Monday 16 July 2012, Tugendhat J will hear applications in the case of Crow v Johnson – the libel claim brought by the General Secretary of the RMT against the London Mayor. The latter has instructed Collyer Bristow.
On 17 July 2012 there will an application in the case of Shaheed v London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
There will be a further CMC in the Voicemail Interception Litigation before Vos J on 18 July 2012.
The Court of Appeal judgment in the case of Bento v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire, (heard 3 April 2012 by Maurice Kay and Hooper LJJ and Henderson J) will be handed down on 19 July 2012.
On 20 July 2012 there will be an application in the case of Lord Ashcroft v Foley.
The conjoined quantum appeals in KC v MGN and Cairns v Modi have been listed in the Court of Appeal for 26 and 27 July 2012.
Next week at the Leveson Inquiry
Oral Hearings in relation to Module 4 of the Inquiry will continue on Monday 16 July 2012. It will sit for three days next week, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The list of witnesses is available here and includes Baroness Onora O’Neill, Philip Coppel QC, Claire Enders, Max Mosley, Dr Damian Tambini and Professor Steven Barnett.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
Woodrow v Johansson, heard 19 January 2012 (HHJ Parkes QC)
Miller v Associated Newspapers heard 21 to 25 May 2012 (Sharp J)
AAA v Associated Newspapers heard 17 to 20, 25 and 26 June 2012 (Nicola Davies J)
Desmond v Foreman, heard 2 to 3 July 2012 (Tugendhat J)
SKA v CRH, heard 10 and 11 July 2012 (Nicola Davies J)