Law and Media Round Up – 26 November 2012

26 11 2012

The news of the week is that Leveson will report on 29 November 2012. A copy of the report will be available to download from the Inquiry website once it has been officially published. There has been a huge amount of comment in anticipation of his findings: for a small selection see: Steven Barnett in the Times Higher Education; Robert Peston at the BBC (who refreshingly admits “the defining characteristic of my knowledge of the Leveson report is that I don’t know very much“); Richard Ackland in the Sydney Morning Herald; further backlash at the Mail; and a Guardian editorial calling for “a small number of key changes” to the Hunt-Black plan. Professor Stewart Purvis has a 70 word summary here.

Inforrm’s coverage also includes:

Tugendhat J handed down judgment on costs in (Joseph v Spiller [2012] EWHC 3278 (QB). In his earlier judgment ([2012] EWHC 2958 (QB)) he had stated that the Claimants would receive only nominal damages, by which he meant 1p. In this latest judgment, he ordered the Claimants to pay 75 per cent of the defendants’ costs.

Mr Justice Tugendhat rejected a breach of confidence claim brought by Peter Abbey in November 2011 against journalist Andrew Gilligan and Associated Newspapers (Abbey v Gilligan & Ors [2012] EWHC 3217(QB)). The claim concerned an article published in the Evening Standard on 14 September 2007, which had used extracts from e-mails sent by and to the Claimant containing information relating to Complete Leisure Group Ltd, which controlled Lord Sebastian Coe’s business interests. He concluded:

There is no case that the Defendants misused any information in respect of which he had reasonable expectation of privacy. If it be necessary to decide the point, I would decide that the publication complained of was in the public interest. And I find that the claim is an abuse of the process of the court“.

5RB has a case report here. Andrew Gilligan commented on the case here; the Telegraph reported here; Press Gazette here.

There were further developments in Lord McAlpine’s libel claims against ITV and Twitter, as Inforrm reported here.

Channel 4 News’ Michael Crick reports on a dispute between Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Conservative MP Priti Patel.

Twitter was alive last week with news that a local reporter faced ejection from court, following a defence submission that he should be barred from court – on the request of a witness. The application was rejected however, as PA Media Lawyer reports here, in a piece that sets out the relevant statute.

In another case involving reporting restrictions, the Court of Appeal found that judges have no power to make orders for defendant anonymity in rape cases and

“overturned an order made earlier this year by a judge at Cambridge Crown Court which banned the media from identifying a convicted rapist – who had just been jailed – because of the risk that naming him might run the risk of identifying his victim”,

as PA Media Lawyer also reported (R (Press Association) v Cambridge Crown Court [2012] EWCA Crim 2434).

Professor Stewart Purvis has been running detailed posts on his blog, with key documents, relating to the BBC’s handling of the Jimmy Savile investigation. Although little reported in the UK press – apart from the Sunday Times [latest here] – Mark Thompson’s role has attracted significant coverage in the US, including his own publication, the New York Times.

While libel is currently dominating Twitter discussion, there is debate in the Contempt world too: the Law Commission is due to publish a consultation paper about online publication, as part of its Contempt project. The Drum reports here; the Register here.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

Please let us know if there is anything to report in this section: inforrmeditorial@gmail.com.

Journalism and regulation

There have been no newly adjudicated decisions by the PCC but numerous resolved cases have been published. In a complaint brought by a woman against the Daily Mail, she complained that the newspaper had intruded into her private life by publishing material taken from her own webpages in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Code (she had removed the material prior to the publication of the article). The case was resolved when the Daily Mail removed its article.

Peter Hitchens complained that the Huffington Post had attributed direct quotes to him, questioning “the journalist’s ability to recall verbatim the conversation“. Interestingly, the article in question by Mehdi Hasan was about Hitchens’ use of Hasan’s quotes. Hitchens complaint was resolved when the Huffington Post removed the quotation marks around the remarks attributed to him.

Other cases:

Following the BBC’s false allegations about a senior Conservative politician, several commentaries have been written about the future of investigative journalism. One of these is by Paul Lashmar at openDemocracy, who reflects on the role of the ‘fourth estate’, the perils of Twitter and the circumstances surrounding the McAlpine case.

The editor of the Irish Daily star has resigned following his decision to publish topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge, as the Guardian reports here.

Research & resources

  • Lord Neuberger, Bailii lecture, 20 November 2012: ‘No Judgment, No Justice’ [PDF]; write up on UKHR blog
  • Project: Update on Mind the JusticeGap. The JusticeGap is working with Hackney Community Law Centre and the University College London’s faculty of law “to work on a major public legal education (PLE) project aimed at young people explaining legal rights and demystifying the law“. It will be “an online guide about the law aimed at young people informed directly by the experience of young people in schools and colleges in the borough“.
  • New publication: Shepard, Jason M. and Belmas, Genelle I. , Anonymity, Disclosure and First Amendment Balancing in the Internet Era: Developments in Libel, Copyright, and Election Speech (October 31, 2012). Yale Journal of Law & Technology, Volume 15, Fall/Winter 2012. Abstract available at SSRN (Hat tip: Media Law Prof Blog).

In the Courts

The trial in the case of Mengi v Hermitage concluded before Bean J on 20 November 2012. Judgment was reserved.

On 21 November 2012, Eady J heard an application in the case of Khalil v Barakat. This was adjourned to 26 November 2012, part heard.

Events

26 November, 6pm, Law Society Public Debate Series: Leveson Report, Law Society, London.

28 November, 1pm, ‘There Is No Such Thing As A Free Press … And We Need One More Than Ever’ – Mick Hume, Centre for Media & Culture Research, London South Bank University (details/registration via email)

28 November 2012, 6pmCEL Annual Lecture 2012: Media Freedoms & Media Standards’, Baroness Onora O’Neill, London.

29 November 2012, all day, IBC Legal: 6th annual Social Media and the Law, London.

29 November 2012, 6pm, Reporting 21st Century conflict – a panel discussion and book launch, City University London.

29 November 2012, 7pm, The Future of Journalism panel, University of Huddersfield.

Know of any media law events happening in December and the new year? Please let Inforrm know: inforrmeditorial@gmail.com.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

United States: The Utah Supreme Court has approved a rule “that will allow journalists to tweet, live stream and blog from the courtroom for the first time in the state’s history“, as RCFP reports here.

South Africa: Media lawyer Dario Milo reminds us on Twitter that as Lord Justice Leveson releases his report on Thursday [29th] on UK press regulation, the SA National Council Provinces will vote on its Protection of State Information Bill (aka the ‘Secrecy Bill’). Background here.

Jersey: “An attempt to prevent the media publishing the name of a barrister to protect her professional reputation after she was fired by a defendant in a criminal case was rejected by a court in Jersey,reports HoldtheFrontPage.

Uganda: A Ugandan court has postponed legal proceedings for British theatre producer David Cecil until 2013, PinkNews reports:

The 34-year-old was due in court on Thursday to face charges of ‘‘disobeying lawful orders’’ of the Uganda Media Council after refusing to let officials review his play, the River and the Mountain.

Index on Censorship had a report earlier in the week on the play, which tells a story about the murder of a successful gay businessman.

Next week in the courts

On 26 November 2012, Eady J will resume hearing the part heard application in the case of Khalil v Barakat.

On Wednesday 28 November 2012, there is the adjourned committal application in the case of SKA v CRH.

On 28 or 29 November 2012, the Court of Appeal (Pill, Arden and Lloyd-Jones LJJ) will hear the appeal in the case of Cammish v Hughes.

On 30 November 2012, there is an application in the case of Andrew James Enforcement v ITV.

Next week in Parliament

Tuesday 26 November, 10.30am, Culture, Media and Sport select committee: the BBC’s response to the Jimmy Savile case. Witness(es): Lord Patten, Chairman, BBC Trust and Tim Davie, Acting Director General, BBC. Location: The Thatcher Room, Portcullis House.

Tuesday 26 November, 3.15pm, House of Lords Communications select committee. Subject: Media Convergence. Witness(es): (at 3.30pm): Mr John Tate, Director of Policy and Strategy, and Mr James Heath, Controller of Policy, BBC; and (at 4.30pm) Mr Dan Brooke, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Mr Keith Underwood, Director of Strategy, and Mr Richard Davidson-Houston, Head of Online, Channel 4.
Location: Committee Room 2, Palace of Westminster

Wednesday 28th November, 3pm, Legislation – Justice and Security Bill [HL] – Third reading – Lord Wallace of Tankerness.

Judgments

The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:

  • Miller v Associated Newspapers heard 21 to 25 May 2012 (Sharp J)
  • Iqbal v Mansoor, heard 31 October 2012 (Rix, Etherton and Lewison LJJ)
  • Coulson v NGN heard 8 November 2012 (Laws, Sullivan and McCombe LJJ)
  • O’Dwyer v ITV, heard 12 November 2012 (Tugendhat J)
  • Mengi v Hermitage heard 1, 6-9, 12-13, 16, 19 and 20 November 2012 (Bean J)

Also on Inforrm last week

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 jt.townend@gmail.com.


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26 11 2012
Law and Media Round Up – 26 November 2012 | Media law and ethics

[...] the link to this week’s law and media round up on Inforrm’s Blog: on the McAlpine libel cases, the much-anticipated Leveson Inquiry report (due out on Thursday 29 [...]

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