The “Sun on Sunday” has launched, complete with ‘Readers’ Champion’. The Independent on Sunday has published a report suggesting that the launch may have been brought forward ahead of potentially damaging revelations about News International, as the Leveson Inquiry moves forward into module two (the relationship between the press and the police).
But last week there were fresh allegations ahead of the “Sun on Sunday’s” first issue, as court documents revealed NI’s email deletion policy and new reports of possible US “victims” of phone hacking, including Charlotte Church’s Los Angeles agent and New York publicist. Bloomberg has a report on potential ramifications: US prosecutors may be interested and “the presence of the U.S. phone numbers in [Glenn] Mulcaire’s notes also may complicate the company’s effort there to contain lawsuits“.
A new proposal for a “Media Standards Authority” has been drafted by Hugh Tomlinson QC, following discussions between academics, journalists and lawyers brought together by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and the Media Standards Trust. Inforrm reported on its launch here. The FT reported here, Press Gazette here and the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade here.
The new voluntary body would be independent of both government and media but with strong powers over members. The body would have statutory underpinning with a system of incentives with legal backing to encourage participation. The full proposal for a Media Standards Authority can be found here. Comments and suggestions are invited and should be submitted by email to email@example.com by 12 March 2012.
As noted last week, a campaign to ‘save FoI’ launched on Monday, as the Justice select committee heard its first witnesses for the post-legislative scrutiny of Freedom of Information. Paul Gibbons (@foimanUK) explained the campaign here. The group’s e-petition calls on the Ministry of Justice to “leave FoI alone”, stating,
“the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) has exposed the scandal of MPs’ expenses, and many examples of waste and improper behaviour by public authorities, politicians and public officials. We call on the government not to allow it to be watered down, nor for there to be a charge for making requests for information”.
In a comment piece by Edzard Ernst, the Guardian drew attention to the British Chiropractic Association’s recent account of its libel action against Simon Singh. The BCA’s report – published in November 2011 – can be found here [PDF].
Hold the Front Page reports that hundreds of copies of a Scottish newspaper, the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter, had to be re-printed after publishing a picture of the wrong man next to a story about a convicted sex offender.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of any statements in Open Court.
Journalism and the PCC
The Sunday Times’ Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, a French photographer, were killed in Syria last week. The Sunday Times has published a special page of coverage here, including Colvin’s work (by subscription). Colvin’s last video report from Syria can be viewed here. The Sunday Times has published her final written report here and tributes from fellow journalists here (no subscription required). The editor of the Sunday Times, John Witherow said:
“Marie was an extraordinary figure in the life of The Sunday Times, driven by a passion to cover wars in the belief that what she did mattered. She believed profoundly that reporting could curtail the excesses of brutal regimes and make the international community take notice.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists has launched its annual “Attacks on the Press” report.
Nine journalists have been shortlisted for the Paul Foot journalism award including the Guardian’s Nick Davies for his phone hacking investigation and the “Independent’s” Jerome Taylor, for his campaigning reporting on the Court of Protection. The Independent was the first media organisation to be granted sole access to a Court of Protection case, setting a precedent for media access even if cases did not involve “public figures.
There are two new adjudicated PCC cases to report. Firstly, the IPCC and the Metropolitan Police v The Guardian (clause 1). The Commission found that “the newspaper had taken sufficient remedial action to remedy an initial breach of the Code“. It concerned reports of the shooting of Mark Duggan in August 2011. The Guardian reported that an IPCC investigation had found no forensic evidence existed that Mr Duggan had been carrying a gun when he was shot. The complaint related to the headline and sub headline of the article, “which they considered to be substantially misleading and unsupported by either the text of the article or the facts as they were known at the time“:
“The complainants said that, contrary to the headline’s suggestion, the IPCC investigation was ongoing and had not yet established the sequence of events that had led to the death. The suggestion that it had determined that Mr Duggan “was not carrying [a] gun” was misleading.”
The Commission’s discussion of the Guardian’s internal treatment of the story is worth flagging up: it took note of the fact that the newspaper had issued a correction and an apology and “a critical explanation of its editorial processes by its Readers’ Editor“, who referred to “serious failings“.
Secondly, a clause 12 complaint (Discrimination) made by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou against the Daily Telegraph was not upheld. The founder of EasyJet’s complaint concerned an article headlined “Stelios backs down as £71m jets in“, which he claimed made “irrelevant and discriminatory reference to his race“. He considered that “the article had implied – in a prejudicial manner – that he was financially imprudent by connecting him to the Greek government“. The Commission found that “while the analogy might be unwelcome“, “it could not agree that it had constituted a prejudicial or pejorative reference to the complainant’s race under the terms of Clause 12 (i)”.
A number of other resolved PCC cases are listed here.
Research & resources
The Justice Gap website is also supporting the ‘Open Justice Week’ initiative (see events, below) and has published a guide to reporting the English courts by Kim Evans, with input from David Banks, Philippa Thomas and Rupert Evelyn.
There is a call for papers for the Media, Power and Citizenship in South America conference in Quito, Ecuador, May 17 -18, 2012. The conference partners include Bournemouth University.
In the Courts
On Monday 20 February 2012, Tugendhat J heard an application for the continuation of an injunction granted to Abu Qatada’s landlord. The injunction was granted. There was an Inforrm news report of the case. A reserved judgment was handed down on Thursday 23 February 2012 ( EWHC 308 (QB)) .
On Tuesday 21 February 2012, Tugendhat J heard an application by Ryan Giggs (who had consented to the removal of his anonymity) for “relief against sanction” in his claim against News Group Newspapers which had been struck out under an unless order as a result of a failure to comply with a listing direction. Judgment was reserved. There was a news story about this case in the Guardian.
On the same day the Court of Appeal (Laws LJ) dismissed a renewed application for permission to appeal in the case of Thornton v Telegraph Media Group. Inforrm had about this decision. There was an Inforrm news report on this decision which linked to the relevant court documents.
On Wednesday 22 February 2012, Hildyard J dismissed an application for an injunction by Viagogo Limited in relation to a Channel 4 “Dispatches” broadcast. The following day Lord Neuberger MR dismissed the claimant’s application for permission to appeal and the programme was subsequently broadcast. There was an Inforrm news item on the case.
On Thursday 23 February 2012, Sir Stephen Sedley dismissed the paper application for permission to appeal in the case of Law Society v Kordowski. Inforrm had a case comment on the first instance decision.
On Thursday 23 February 2012, Tesla’s libel and malicious falsehood claim against BBC Top Gear was dismissed by Tugendhat J, after an application to amend its original claim (Tesla Motors Ltd & Anor v BBC  EWHC 310 (QB) (23 February 2012). BBC Top Gear published a response on its ‘Transmission’ blog. Tesla has a page about the case here and has published a blog post by the owner of a Tesla car that appeared on Top Gear here.
On the same day there was a hearing before Vos J in the phone hacking litigation of an application by the Guardian for access to various court documents. The documents were released in redacted form. Vos J reserved judgment on the extent of the redactions. His judgment will be handed down on Monday 27 February 2012.
On Thursday and Friday, 23 and 24 February 2012 Bean J heard a number of applications in the case of Cairns v Modi. New witness statements were served and amendments made to the defence. It seems likely that he will be the trial judge in the 7 day trial due to commence on 5 March 2012. There was a news story about the case on “Stuff.co.nz”.
On Friday 24 February 2012, Tugendhat J handed down two judgments in the case of Spelman v Express Newspapers. In the first ( EWHC 355 (QB)) he refused to renew the injunction which had been granted to the claimant (see the earlier Inforrm report). The second decision concerned the date for service of the Particulars of Claim ( EWHC 392 (QB)).
On the same date Tugendhat J handed down a further judgment in the case of Gold v Cox ( EWHC 367 (QB)) entering final judgment for the claimant. Inforrm had a case comment about the earlier decision concerning the interim injunction.
27 February 2012, ‘Open Justice Week’, initiative asking writers, legal professionals and members of the public to collaborate using social media to share their experiences of a week in the life of the legal system.
28 February 2012, 1pm, ‘Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom‘ – Rebecca MacKinnon, at Polis, LSE, Clement House Room 302 (Third Floor), Clement House, 99 Aldwych.
29 February 2012, 9am-2pm. ‘Justice Wide Open‘. Half-day seminar on legal knowledge in a digital age, with speakers including Geoffrey Robertson QC, Hugh Tomlinson QC, Heather Brooke, Mike Dodd and Adam Wagner. Room A130, College Building, City University London [please note room change].
Know of any media law events happening in March? Let Inforrm know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
In the case of Australian Medical Association -v- McEvoy  WASC 50 Le Miere J struck out various paragraphs of the statement of claim on the basis that they were not capable of bearing the defamatory imputations alleged.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that the singer Van Morrison is pursuing a privacy injunction in the Belfast High Court. The case was adjourned until March 2012.
The Antiguan opposition leader Lester Bird has been awarded $75,000 damages in a a successful defamation action against the Prime Minister and leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Baldwin Spencer and Crusader Publications. The claim concerned remarks made at a public rally in 2008 and broadcast on Crusader radio. The Antigua Observer has a report here.
Nadarajah Sethurupan, editor of Norway News, has successfully sued the editor of the Swedish-based Asian Tribune, KT Rajasingham, and the World Institute for Asian Studies for defamation. The claimant was awarded SEK 125,000 (US$ 20,000) after the Swedish Svea Court of Appeal upheld a District Court decision. The Colombo Telegraph has a report here.
A Colombian journalist, Claudia Julieta Duque, is pursuing a libel complaint against the former president of Colombian, Álvaro Uribe, for allegedly associating her with FARC, the Knight Center has reported.
Next week in the courts
On Monday 27 February 2012, there will be a further case management conference (CMC) in the “Voicemail Interception” litigation before Vos J. At 2pm he will give judgment as to the extent of the permitted redactions of documents made available to the press.
On the same day Bean J will hear the “offer of amends” case of KC v MGN Ltd (anonymised because of related family proceedings)
On Wednesday 29 February 2012, there will an application in the case of Qema v NGN Ltd. Roy Greenslade had a post which deals with some of the background.
On Friday 2 March 2012, there will be an application in the case of Citation PLC v Ellis Whittam Ltd.
Next week at the Leveson Inquiry
Hearings for module 2 of the Inquiry (the relationships between the press and police and the extent to which that has operated in the public interest) will begin on Monday February 27.
Monday 27 February, 10am–4:30pm: DAC Sue Akers (MPS), Brian Paddick, Lord Prescott.
Tuesday 28 February, 10am-4.30pm: Nick Davies (Guardian), Jacqui Hames, Simon Hughes MP, Chris Jefferies, TBC – Jane Winter. To be read: Magnus Boyd.
Wednesday 29 February, 10am-4.30pm: DI Mark Maberly (MPS), DCS Keith Surtees (MPS), DS Phillip Williams (MPS).
Thursday 1 March, 9.30am-4.30pm: Peter Clarke (former MPS), Andy Hayman (former MPS), Sir Paul Stephenson (former MPS), John Yates (former MPS).
Next week in Parliament
Monday 27 February, 2pm. Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions. Private Meeting. Location: The Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House.
Tuesday 28 February, 10.30am. Justice select committee. Post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Witness(es): Universities UK, The Russell Group and the 1994 Group; Martin Rosenbaum, BBC News, Doug Wills, Evening Standard, David Higgerson, Trinity Mirror Regionals, and David Hencke, National Union of Journalists (at 11.15am) Location: Palace of Westminster, Committee Room 8.
Tuesday 28 February, 11am – 12.30pm, Media regulation – Chris Bryant. Westminster Hall, House of Commons.
Wednesday 29 February, 4pm – 4.30pm, Death of Daniel Morgan – Mr Tom Watson. Westminster Hall, House of Commons.
Wednesday 29 February, 5-6.30pm. Media Standards Trust and Hacked Off debate. Hugh Tomlinson QC will introduce his new proposal for reform. Max Mosley and an advocate of the PCC Plan (tbc) will respond. The debate will be chaired by Baroness Onora O’Neill. By invitation only. Committee room 15, House of Commons.
Thursday 1 March, 11am. Communications Committee report on the governance and regulation of the BBC – Lord Inglewood. Main Chamber, House of Lords.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
WXY v Gewanter, heard 11-15, 18-19 July 2011 (Slade J)
Flood v Times Newspapers, heard 17 and 18 October 2011 (Supreme Court)
McGrath v Dawkins and another, heard 10 and 11 November 2011 (HHJ Moloney QC)
Levy v. Coomber heard 9 and 16 November 2011 (HHJ Moloney QC)
El-Naschie v Macmillan, heard 11, 14, 16 to 18, 21, 22, 25, 28-30 November, 1 -2 December 2011 (Sharp J)
Woodrow v Johansson, heard 19 January 2012 (HHJ Parkes QC)
Ashcroft v Foley heard 1 and 2 February 2012, (Pill and Elias LJJ and Sharp J)
WXY v Gewanter & ors, heard 3 February 2012 (Slade J)
R (Guardian News and Media Limited) v City of Westminster Magistrates Court, heard 7 Feburary 2012 (Master of the Rolls, Hooper and Toulson LJJ).
Chambers v DPP, heard 8 February 2012 (Gross LJ and Irwin J)
Tamiz v Google, heard 16 February 2012 (Eady J)
Giggs v NGN, heard 21 February 2012 (Tugendhat J)
Also on Inforrm last week
- Case Law: Cobain v Information Commissioner and CPS – journalists and the right to access information – Gervase de Wilde
- After the ‘for Neville’ email they decided to wipe the database – Brian Cathcart
- First they came for the journalists… – Maria Roche
- Case Law: Vejdeland and Others v. Sweden, Anti-Gay Hate Speech in Strasbourg – Alexandra Trimmer
- John Terry, the England Football Captaincy: the Media and the Law
- Michael Gove and the ‘dangers’ of Leveson: another sign of desperation – Brian Cathcart
- Public Interest and the Press, Skimmington Rides Again – Julian Petley
- Leveson Inquiry – “Module One, the Press and the Public”: Round Up – Natalie Peck
- If a Bulger killer was hacked, how did Mulcaire get his top secret number? – Brian Cathcart