Defamation Act 2013, A Critical Evaluation, Part 4, “Public Interest” defence – Dan Tench

29 07 2014

Defamation ActIn earlier posts I have dealt with general concerns about the Defamation Act 2013, concerns about section 1, “Serious harm” and the new statutory defences of “truth” and “honest comment” in section 2 and section 3. In this post, I continue setting out concerns with the Defamation Act 2013 by looking at the public interest defence in section 4. Read the rest of this entry »





Inaccurate, untested and uncorrected: another weak and inadequate PCC adjudication

12 03 2014

pccThe Press Complaints Commission (“PCC”) rarely makes adjudications on complaints. Only seven have been published in 2014.  Bearing in mind the fact that the PCC staff and procedures seem likely to be transferred wholesale to the successor body, IPSO, it is worth scrutinising adjudications with some care.  Read the rest of this entry »





Tulisa, Mercer and Yeo: the Journalistic Sting and the Public Interest

26 07 2013

TulisaOver the past couple of months the tabloids, the broadsheets and the broadcasters have been entertaining us with “journalistic sting” stories.  Politicians and celebrities have been caught out by fictitious lobbying companies and the “fake sheikh”. Read the rest of this entry »





News: “‘Protecting free speech: A Public Interest Defence for the Media?”, A Debate at Gray’s Inn – Henry Vane

24 03 2013

Gray's Inn HallJournalism in ‘the public interest’ is central to a healthy democracy but extremely hard to define and police.  At present it has an ambiguous legal status; recognised by law but not enshrined in it. The ‘public interest’ is often (successfully) used as a defence by journalists for publishing stories or doing things which are technically illegal. Yet this protection relies on the discretion of judges and the CPS and is not underpinned in statute. Read the rest of this entry »





A New Style Public Interest Defence in Libel Law? – Andrew Scott and Alastair Mullis

8 11 2012

An interesting proposal has slipped quietly into the mix for consideration during the House of Lords Committee stage deliberations on the Defamation Bill. During the Second Reading debate, Lord Lester mooted a possible alternative to the clause 4 defence of responsible publication on a matter of public interest. The Joint Committee on Human Rights has pressed the Government on the desirability of the new alternative. In our view, the proposal – developed by Sir Brian Neill (pic) – offers an opportunity both to improve the operation of the existing common law defence and to ‘tidy up’ aspects of the existing Bill. Read the rest of this entry »





News: Carnegie-Demos report on public interest, strict views on publication, strong support for independent regulation

23 10 2012

A new report shows that the public do not trust the ethics of tabloid newspapers and have strict views on “public interest” and illegal information gathering.  It also shows strong public support for an independent regulator to decide issues of public interest.  The report, Voicing the Public Interest: Listening to the public on press regulation was published on Monday 22 October 2012 by the Carnegie UK Trust.  Read the rest of this entry »





Are the judges in tune with the public’s view of the public interest?

21 10 2012

Last month Inforrm had a case comment on the decision in which the High Court refused a privacy injunction because the former manager of the England football team was “undoubtedly a public figure”.  As such, he belonged to “the category of those from whom the public could reasonably expect a higher standard of conduct”.   This is an approach which has long been promoted by the tabloid press.   But the independent evidence strongly suggests that it is not the public’s own view of the  public interest. Read the rest of this entry »








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