This week the Court of Appeal handed down a judgment in the case of Tamiz v Google ( EWCA Civ 68) in which dismissed the appeal by Payam Tamiz against last year’s decision which set aside his claim against Google on Jameel grounds, but disagreed with Eady J’s conclusion that Google was not a publisher at common law and had an unassailable defence under section 1 of the Defamation Act 1996 (see “In the Courts, below).
Six people were arrested on 13 February 2013 on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept telephone communications contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1997. All of them are journalists or former journalists, the Metropolitan Police announced. Inforrm has a report here.
An investigation has been launched by the Attorney General after photographs claiming to show Jon Venables, convicted for the murder of James Bulger in 1993, were allegedly posted on the internet, the Telegraph reports.
In Clackmannanshire, Scotland, a second schoolboy has been charged under the Communications Act 2003, over an online Facebook page. Another 14-year-old boy was also charged last month, reports “The Herald“.
David Banks, media law consultant, considers the contempt and defamation issues in the Oscar Pistorious coverage here.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
On 12 February 2013 there was a statement in open court in the case of Matthias v Fenland District Council. The District Council apologised and agreed to pay substantial damages to two women who ran a taxi firm in March. There were reports of the statement in the Cambridge Times and on the BBC website.
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Journalism and regulation
There are no PCC adjudications to report, but several resolutions.
A number contained concerns about privacy: about comments made on Facebook (although the clause noted was 1, accuracy) in Mr Anthony Williams v Stratford-upon-Avon Herald, Clause 1, 14/02/2013; about unpixelated images of children (Holly Willoughby and Dan Baldwin v Woman’s Own, Clauses 3, 6, 14/02/2013) and reports about medical conditions (Mr Ian Wace and Ms Saffron Aldridge v The Mail on Sunday, Clauses 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 14/02/2013; Mr Steven Purcell v Daily Record, Clauses 1, 3, 11/02/2013). Other privacy related complaints included: Miss Tracie Long v Chelmsford Weekly News, Clauses 1, 3, 14/02/2013; Wonga, Mr Errol Damelin & Mr Jonty Hurwitz v Daily Mail, Clauses 3, 4, 10, 12/02/2013.
Non-privacy related resolutions included: Papyrus v The Daily Telegraph, Clause 5, 15/02/2013; Mr Bedwyr Griffiths v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 14/02/2013; Mr Ben Dyson v The Daily Telegraph, Clause 1, 14/02/2013; Ms Lynn Hales/Chafin v Daily Mail, Clause 6, 14/02/2013; A woman v Daily Record, Clause 9, 14/02/2013; Mr Chris Gale v Western Daily Press, Clause 1, 14/02/2013.
There will be no Radio 4 Today programme on Monday morning, as many BBC journalists have gone on strike – for 24 hours in a dispute over compulsory redundancies. Breakfast television is also affected, reports the NUJ.
Research & resources
- Article: The 2012 CLSR-LSPI seminar on privacy, data protection & cyber-security – Presented at the 7th international conference on Legal, Security and Privacy Issues in IT law (LSPI) October 2–4, 2012, Athens, Steve Saxby. Computer Law & Security Review, Volume 29, Issue 1, February 2013, Pages 4–12
- Video, the Institute of Art and Ideas: The Rise and Fall of the Fourth Estate, Gordon Lynch, Hugh Tomlinson, John Kampfner, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown [from June 2012]
- SCL Meeting Report: The Tale of the Twitter Joke Trial. Paul Bernal reports on the latest SCL London Group Meeting, held at Preiskel & Co LLP on 13 February 2013.
- When judges, jurors and the Internet collide, Nicole L. Black, LLRX.com
- LSE Media Policy project: media policy in 2013
In the Courts
As noted above, The Court of Appeal handed down judgment in the case of Tamiz v Google (EWCA Civ 68 (14 February 2013)). The Court held that Eady J was right in concluding that the claim was an abuse under the Jameel principle and that “the game would not be worth the candle“, the judges did not agree with Eady J that Google was not a publisher at common law and that Google had an unassailable defence to Tamiz’s claim under section 1 of the Defamation Act 1996. The is a case note on the 5RB website. One Brick Court has a short summary here (Catrin Evans was junior counsel for Google Inc, instructed by Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP); Tamiz’ solicitor Brett Wilson LLP has a statement here.
On 11 to 12 February 2013 the Supreme Court heard the case of Public Relations Consultants Association Limited v The Newspaper Licensing Agency Limited and others. The Supreme Court case summary is here. PRCA issued a statement on 8 February.
The judge-alone trial in Thompson v James began on 13 February 2013, listed for 5-6 days. This is a claim brought by the author of the Carmarthenshire Planning Problems blog, Jacqui Thompson, against the chief executive of Carmarthenshire Council in relation to a letter dated 28 July 2011. Mr James has brought a counterclaim for libel, funded by the local authority. There is a post about the case on the claimant’s blog, here. The BBC has reported on the case and it has been discussed on Twitter.
On 13 February 2013 there was a damages only trial by judge alone, Eady J, in the case of Al-Amoudi v Kifle. A previous action between the same parties was dealt with by HHJ Parkes QC in July 2011 ( EWHC 2037 (QB)). On that occasion damages were assessed in the sum of £175,000. However, the defendant was resident in the United States and made no appearance in that action. Judgment was reserved.
On Friday 15 February 2013 there was an application in the case of XLN Telecom Ltd v Geezer Telecom. This was said to be Eady J’s last hearing before his retirement on reaching the age of 70 on 24 March 2013.
18 February 2013, 2pm, Campaign for Freedom of Information Briefing, ‘The FOI Act is at risk!’ The Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA.
20 February 2013, 6pm, The Leveson Inquiry: Trauma or Catharsis? Professor George Brock. Barnard’s Inn Hall, London.
21 February 2013, Looking Beyond Leveson: Media Regulation Past, Present and Future Film, Television and Media Study Day, University of East Anglia.
26 February 2013, 6pm, ‘After Leveson’ – Debate & Book Launch, The Media Society, TVT, 578-586 Chiswick High Rd, W4 5RP, London.
27 February 2013, 7pm, On the media: Unprepared, inexperienced and in a war zone, Frontline Club, London.
8 March 2013, Law and the Media, University of Bristol.
21-22 March 2013, Internet Domain Names: from Registration to Dispute Resolution, Academy of European Law (ERA), Trier, Germany.
27 March 2013, 17:30, Broadcast competition and regulation, Helen Weeds, University of Essex, City University London.
5 April 2013, Polis Journalism Conference, LSE, London.
22 April 2013, IBC Legal’s 20th Anniversary Defamation & Privacy conference, Grange Tower Bridge Hill, London.
16-17 May 2013, Legal frontiers in digital media: the sixth annual conference on emerging legal issues surrounding digital publishing and content distribution, Stanford University, Paul Brest Hall, Stanford, California.
23-24 May, “Social Media, Regulation and Freedom of Expression: A comparative perspective”. A workshop organized by HKBU and Tsinghua University, Communication & Visual Arts Building, Hong Kong Baptist University. Hong Kong.
Know of any media law events happening in the next few months? Please let Inforrm know: email@example.com.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
On 30 January 2013, the Canadian Centre for Court Techonology published guidelines for the Use of Electronic Communication Devices in Court Proceedings [PDF], prepared by the Social Media Intellaction Working Group. It said, “These Guidelines are founded on the “open courts” principle, which requires transparency and accountability in the judicial system to foster public confidence in the administration of justice.” There is also a Canada-wide overview of Policies on Live Text Based Communications [PDF].
An academic publishing company based in the US, Edwin Mellen Press, is suing a librarian at McMaster University, Ontario, over a blog post published while he was working at a Kansas university, reports cbc.ca. Inside Higher Education also has a report here. McMaster’s statement in response to the law suit is here.
On 5 February 2013, Powless v. VanEvery-Albert, 2013 ONSC 669 the Ontario Superior Court of Justice awarded defamation damages of CAN $60,000 in the newsletter of the Six Nations of the Grand River Band of Indians alleging dishonesty.
On 6 February 2013, in Manson v. John Doe, 2013 ONSC 628 the Ontario Court of Justice awarded damages of Can$200,000 against an anonymous blogger. The case related to anonymous posts on Blogger which said that the Plaintiff, who is a lawyer,
was a lying crook, a Nazi, a pedophile and rapist, a thief, and a morally repugnant imbecile. The Plaintiff is obviously none of those things. The Blogger posts included comments purportedly posted by the Plaintiff. These comments included taking credit for being the “resident rapist” at his former law firm. This post is especially repugnant.
The award consisted of Can$100,000 compensatory damages with aggravated and exemplary damages each of Can$50,000.
The Administrative Court for Schleswig-Holstein has ruled in favour of Facebook over an order requiring the site to let German members use pseudonyms [IT ProPortal].
Rock stars Steven Tyler and Mick Fleetwood have persuaded a Hawaii Senate committee to approve a bill to protect celebrities from intrusive paparazzi. The ‘Steven Tyler Act’ would allow celebrities the right to collect general, special and punitive damages for taking unwanted photographs [NY Times].
A federal judge has dismissed a libel claim against ESPN over its coverage of allegations against the claimant’s husband, a former basketball coach at Syracuse University. The judge found that the six statements the Claimant objected to are privileged as “fair and true” reports of judicial proceedings. [Syracuse.com / New York Law Journal].
Next week in the courts
The trial in Thompson v James will continue before Tugendhat J – with a ruling on malice on 18 February 2013. The trial is likely to continue for at least two more days.
There will be an application in the case of Murray v Care on 20 February 2013.
Next week in Parliament
The House of Commons and House of Lords are in recess. The Houses will next sit on Monday 25 February 2013.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
Iqbal v. Mansoor, heard 31 October 2012 (Rix, Etherton and Lewison LJJ)
Citation PLC v. Ellis Whittam Limited, heard 5 December 2012 (Laws, Arden and Tomlinson LJJ)
Rothschild v. Associated Newspapers heard 12 and 13 December 2012 (Laws, McCombe LJJ and Eady J)
Waterson v. Lloyd & Anor heard 17 and 18 December 2012 (Laws, Richards and McCombe LJJ)
Tesla Motors Limited & anr v. British Broadcasting Corporation, heard 15-16 January 2013 (Maurice Kay, Moore-Bick and Rimer LJJ)
McCann v Bennett, heard 5 and 6 February 2013 (Tugendhat J)
Al-Amoudi v Kifle, heard 13 February 2013 (Eady J)
Also on Inforrm last week
- Hanging By A Thread: Reportage and Clause 4 of the Defamation Bill – Sophie Walker and Jason Bosland
- LSE Media Policy Project: Media Policy in 2013
- News: Hacked Off responds to the draft Royal Charter: “a surrender to press pressure”
- Journalisted, week ending 10 February 2013, Chris Huhne, Gay Marriage and fishing reform
- Australia: Question Time – Interview with Peter Bartlett
- News: Operation Weeting, new suspected hacking conspiracy, six more arrests [Updated]
- Sir Alan Ward retires – some of his privacy and defamation cases
- News: Defamation Bill as amended by the House of Lords – where are we now?
- Leveson: It is impossible to overstate the Daily Mail’s fear of proper press regulation
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.