Law and Media Round Up – 23 July 2012

23 07 2012

The Leveson Inquiry continued to hear evidence in module four.  This included evidence from Matt Sprake, of the News Pic agency, who told of carrying out surveillance on more than 300 people over two years, almost always involving covert photography.  Roy Greenslade has a post on the “Astonishing story of a photographic agency’s surveillance exploits”.  Max Mosley’s evidence that only the richest one per cent can take on the newspapers was widely reported.

On 16 July 2012 Flaux J, sitting in Birmingham Crown Court, made an order prohibiting the BBC from broadcasting a programme entitledThe Riots: In their own Words tonight”.  There were reports in the “Guardian” and the “Press Gazette” about the order.  On Thursday 19 July 2012 the BBC was reported to be considering an appeal.  Flaux J had been presiding over the trial of 8 men for murder during last summer’s riots.  The men were acquitted on 18 July 2012 and the injunction lifted.  There is a report of the case in the Birmingham Post.

The most widely reported media story of the week was Rupert Murdoch’s resignations from all his United Kingdom directorships.  Dan Sabbagh in the “Guardian” asks whether his retreat “marks his long goodbye to the UK” but Roy Greenslade argues that these resignations “don’t herald a Wapping sell-off … not yet anyway”.

It was widely reported that, at the hearing of the latest CMC in the Voicemail interception litigation on Wednesday 18 July 2012, a “significant email” from a News International executive had emerged. The identity of the author and the contents of the email were kept confidential.  The Guardian reported that a claim is being brought by Sarah Ferguson’s former PR adviser, Kate Waddington.

Another “Sun” reporter was arrested on 19 July 2012 – this time by officers from “Operation Tuleta” (the investigation into email hacking).  The journalist, Rhodri Phillips, is the nineteenth “Sun” journalist arrested in recent months.  The Press Gazette reported that his colleagues in the newsroom were “outraged”.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

On 18 July 2012 there was a Statement in Open Court [pdf] in the case of Gilligan v Faber & Faber, arising out of comments made in Ken Livingstone’s auto-biography.  We had a post about this statement.

Journalism and regulation

Tabloid Watch blog notes a remarkable apology from the “Daily Mail” to ‘readers who were offended’ by its article claiming Egypt planned a ‘sex after death’ law.

The Press Complaints Commission resolved complaints by Ms Jessica Antunes v Evening Standard, and by Joanne Swan v The Sun

In the Courts

On Monday 16 July 2012, Tugendhat J heard and gave judgment in applications in the case of Crow v Johnson ([2012] EWHC 1982 (QB)) ­– dismissing the libel claim brought by the General Secretary of the RMT against the London Mayor.  We had a Case Comment on the judgment.

There will be a further CMC in the Voicemail Interception Litigation before Vos J on 18 July 2012.

On 18 July 2012 the Divisional Court gave judgment in the case of,  making a finding of contempt against the “Daily Mail” and the “Mirror”.  There was a report in the “Press Gazette”.

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.

Events

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: inforrmeditorial@gmail.com.

Resources

An academy on media law took place Zagreb, Croatia, on 3-8 June 2012, with participation of media law practitioners from all of the countries in South East Europe as well as from relevant international organisations. It aimed at safeguarding media freedoms by enhancing regional cooperation and by building capacity of media lawyers to use the best national media laws and practices in the region in line with international and European media standards.  Its full report [pdf] is now available

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Australia

The claim brought by Union leader John Setka against federal opposition leader, Tony Abbott was considered by the Victorian Supreme Court on 19 July 2012 by Beach J.  The matter will return to court on 16 November 2012.

The Treasurer of the Liberal National Party, Barry O’Sullivan, is being sued for defamation by Geoffrey Greene, the former state director of the party in Queensland.

Canada

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper applied to strike out a defamation claim brought by former Cabinet Minister, Helena Guergis in the Ontario Superior Court.  His lawyer described the claim as “gibberish” and a “fiction”.  Judgment was reserved by Judge Charles Hackland after a three day hearing.

India

Former Army chief Gen V K Singh appeared before a Delhi court following summons against him in a criminal defamation case filed by Lt Gen(retd) Tejinder Singh (see our post on the case).  The former army chief and four other top serving Army officers were granted bail by the Magistrate.

Malaysia:

Mining company, Lynas, has won a libel case against groups voicing opposition to its processing operation.  Free Malaysia Today, yesterday issued an apology for articles it had published, which claimed the Lynas plant could be unsafe.

“We apologise for these publications as such claims do not have a scientific basis. The regulatory review of the Lynas plant has been thorough and diligent,”

New Zealand:

A defamation case brought  by a government minister, Judith Collins, against Labour MPs Andrew Little and Trevor Mallard has been set to go to trial in February 2013. Ms Collins has taken legal action against the pair for alleging she or her office leaked an email, sent from former National Party president Michelle Boag to Ms Collins, to media. Venning J refused the defendants’ application to stay the action.

Russia:

The Duma has passed a law re-criminalising defamation – just 6 months after it was decriminalised.  Individuals will be subject to fines of up to 5 million roubles (around £GBP 100,000) for defamation.  The law adds a new article to the Criminal Code: libel and slander against a judge, prosecutor, investigator, assizer and bailiff. This will be punished by fines of up to 5 million roubles, or three years worth of the accused person’s salary, or by forced labour for up to 480 hours.

South Africa:  

Talk Radio 702 and 94.7 Highveld Stereo have each been fined R25,000 for defamation by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) .  The stations were found guilty of implicating Silvanus Naicker in the kidnapping and murder of Johannesburg student Leigh Matthews “on meagre facts available”.  The full judgment is available here [pdf]

Next week in the courts

On Monday 23 July 2012, Tugendhat J will give judgment in the case of Desmond v Foreman (heard 2 to 3 July 2012).

At 2.00pm the same judge will hear an application in the case of EWQ v GFD

On Wednesday 25 July 2012, Nicola Davies J will give judgment in the case of AAA v Associated Newspapers (heard 17 to 20, 25 and 26 June 2012)

On Thursday 26 and Friday 27 July 2012 there will be the trial of a preliminary issue as to qualified privilege in the case of Qadir v Associated Newspapers (heard 11 July 2012),

The conjoined quantum appeals in KC v MGN and Cairns v Modi will be heard by a strong Court of Appeal (Lord Chief Justice, Master of the Rolls and Eady J) on Thursday 26 July 2012

Next week at the Leveson Inquiry

Hearings in relation to Module 4 of the Inquiry will continue on Monday 23 July 2012.  The inquiry will be updated on Metropolitan Police investigation by DAC Sue Akers, and will hear closing submissions from the core participant victims, Metropolitan Police, Telegraph Media Group, Northern & Shell, Associated News Limited, Guardian News & Media Limited and News International.

Judgments

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)

SKA v CRH, heard 10 and 11 July 2012 (Nicola Davies J)

Lord Ashcroft v Foley heard 20 July 2012 (Eady J)


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