It was the week the newspaper proprietors came to Leveson. Predictably, Murdochs Snr and Jnr dominated the media coverage, but John Ryley (head of news, Sky News) Aidan Barclay (Telegraph Media Group) and Evgeny Lebedev (Lebedev Holdings Ltd) also supplied plenty of fresh material for the Leveson correspondents. Natalie Peck reported for Inforrm here.
The culture secretary Jeremy Hunt faced calls for his resignation following evidence about News International’s contact with his office over the BSkyB takeover bid (dropped in 2011), but the Prime Minister David Cameron has said it would be wrong to sack him. Hunt’s special adviser Adam Smith has resigned, however.
The Guardian reports that it would be outside the remit of the Leveson Inquiry to establish if Hunt had breached the ministerial code. Hunt’s evidence session will not be brought forward, according to the Independent. Tom Watson MP is to encourage other MPs to come forward with incidents of bullying or threats made by News International, reports the Guardian.
Benjamin Pell draws our attention to the fact that Wednesday 18 April 2012 marked the 1000th day since a jury trial of a libel case.
A trial heard by judge alone continues in the High Court, however. As mentioned below, this is the second week of Bento v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire, before Bean J. The Claimant argues that a Bedfordshire Police press release from July 2009 suggested that he was guilty of murder, as the BBC reports here. Tugendhat J ruled on February 6 that it would be unsuitable for a jury trial. An appeal against his decision was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 3 April 2012. Gervase de Wilde previewed the case for Inforrm here.
The transport union, RMT, is pursuing a defamation action against Boris Johnson over his ‘Not Ken Again’ poster campaign. In a press statement, RMT claims it
“falsely portrays our General Secretary Bob Crow as being part of a culture of political immorality and as having caused serious harm to the interests of people in London“.
According to a BBC report, a spokesman for Boris Johnson said:
“We didn’t know Bob Crow was such a delicate flower that he would be upset by something that is fair comment and entirely supported by the facts … Boris has instructed his solicitors that he intends to robustly defend this baseless claim.”
As mentioned below, the privacy and harassment trial in the case of Trimingham v Associated Newspapers was heard by Tugendhat J last week. There was a report of the hearing in the Guardian. Judgment is reserved. RPC, which is representing Associated Newspapers in the case, provides a brief report here on its privacy blog. Keith Mathieson comments:
“Ms Trimingham’s case is the first case to reach trial at which allegations of harassment by a newspaper have been pursued. Her claim covers not just publication of material by the newspapers’ reporters and commentators, but also readers’ comments published online. The judgment therefore concerns the boundaries of journalistic freedom and has potentially significant implications beyond the comparatively narrow interests of the parties in question.”
At the IBC Legal Privacy & Defamation conference 2012, Richard Spearman QC declared that the “volume of [privacy injunction] activity has dropped off beyond all recognition” in the last twelve months, as reported by PA Media Lawyer here. Spearman outlined several factors affecting the decline, including the risk of internet publication, new practice guidance introduced by the Master of the Rolls and recent decisions in the High Court and Court of Appeal. Inforrm will report on the conference and other sessions later this week.
An event hosted by Halsbury’s Law Exchange on Tuesday looked at ‘Law Reporting in the New Media Age’, with HLE chairman Joshua Rosenberg (chair), Siobhain Butterworth, the Guardian; Katy Dowell of The Lawyer; David Allen Green;Jack of Kent Blog; Andrew Sharpe, LexisNexis; and Adam Wagner, UK Human Rights Blog. HLE reports on it here and David Allen Green reflects on the pleasures of blogging over tweeting here.
Statements in Open Court & Apologies
We are not aware of any statements in open court this week.
Journalism and regulation
There are no newly adjudicated cases to report but several resolved cases:
Peter Reynolds v Daily Mail (Clause 1, 27/04/2012); A man v Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Clause 1, 27/04/2012); Mr Smith on behalf of Gaoh Energy Ltd v Tamworth Herald (Clause 1, 27/04/2012); Mr Patrick McCadden v Sunday Mail (Clause 1, 27/04/2012); A woman v North Devon Journal (Clause 1, 3, 27/04/2012); A woman v Western Daily Press (Clause 5, 27/04/2012); Dr Jane Collins and Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Trust v Daily Mail (Clause 1, 27/04/2012); Theresa Avery v Daily Mail (Clause 3, 6, 24/04/2012); Mrs Anna Rackett v The Sun (Clause 1, 23/04/2012).
Media law for small publishers was on the ‘un’agenda at Talk About Local’s annual informal conference for hyperlocal bloggers, hosted in Birmingham. David Banks, journalist and trainer in media law, gave an overview of key legal issues (including court reporting, libel and privacy) and Ed Walker, from Trinity Mirror Wales led a session on crime reporting in the afternoon.
Ahead of the conference, Damian Radcliffe, who authored NESTA’s ‘Here and Now – UK hyperlocal media today’ report [PDF] raised the question of regulating hyperlocal sites, which was followed up on the Meeja Law blog here.
Research & resources
The photography and video newswire and community, Demotix, has a training section on its website, which includes advice on ‘staying safe’ and ‘law and authorities’.
Craig Silverman, of Regret the Error, shares “eight must-reads” that “detail how to verify information in real-time” on his Poynter Regret the Error blog. He will be speaking in London, at Journalism.co.uk’s news:rewired event on 13 July 2012.
In the Courts
The privacy and harassment trial in the case of Trimingham v Associated Newspapers was heard by Tugendhat J on Monday to Wednesday, 23 to 25 April 2012 with closing submissions on Friday 27 April 2012.
The libel trial in the case of Bento v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire before Bean J began on Tuesday 24 April and continued until Friday 27 April 2012. It continues this week.
On 24 April 2012 Tugendhat J handed down judgment in the appeal in Hallam Estates Ltd & Anor v Baker  EWHC 1046 (QB) (heard on 18 April 2012).
On 27 April 2012 HHJ Parkes QC handed down judgment in WXY v Gewanter & Ors  EWHC 1071 (QB) – the case concerned costs and specific disclosure.
30 April 2012, 6.30pm: Lessons for Leveson: What can we learn from press regulation elsewhere? Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Royal Society of Arts, London.
9 May 2012, 6.30pm: LSE Public Conversation - Dial M for Murdoch with Tom Watson MP and Martin Hickman (chair: Damian Tambini). London School of Economics.
17 May 2012, 6pm: Rally for Media Reform – The Coordinating Committee for Media Reform, in conjunction with the Hacked Off campaign, Westminster Central Hall.
12 June 2012, all day: The ‘Right to be Forgotten’ and Beyond: Data Protection and Freedom of Expression in the Age of Web 2.0, Oxford Privacy Information Law and Society, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford University.
28 June 2012, all day, LexisNexis Defamation & Privacy conference, London.
Know of any media law events happening in May / June? Please let Inforrm know: email@example.com.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Malaysia: On 27 April 2012, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur entered judgment for a total of MYR500,000 (£101,000) in a defamation claim brought by Mohamad Salim against the well known journalist, R. Nadeswaran over two postings on Twitter. It is believed to be the first Twitter defamation claim in Malaysia. Inforrm reported on the case here.
Bulgaria: Next Friday will see the first hearing in a libel case brought by the chair of the Bulgarian Judge’s Association (BJA), Miroslava Todorova, against the country’s interior minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, over allegations about her work as a judge and chair of the BJA.
United States: A couple from Texas have been awarded $13.8 million in a defamation case against anonymous posters on the internet forum Topix.com, who had accused them of being sexual deviants, molesters, and drug dealers reports ABC News.
Next week in the courts
The libel trial in the case of Bento v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire will continue before Bean J. It is listed for the full week.
Next week at the Leveson Inquiry
The Inquiry will resume hearings in the week commencing 7 May 2012.
Next week in Parliament
We are not aware of any relevant scheduled sessions in the House of Commons this week.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
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)
Chambers v DPP, heard 8 February 2012 (Gross LJ and Irwin J)
Qema v NGN Ltd heard 29 February and 1 March 2012 (Sharp J)
Hunt v Times Newspapers, heard 9 and 12 March 2012 (Eady J)
Bento v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire, heard 3 April 2012 (Maurice Kay and Hooper LJJ and Henderson J)
CVB v MGN Ltd heard 19 April 2012 (Tugendhat J)
Trimingham v Associated Newspapers heard 23-25 and 27 April 2012 (Tugendhat J)
Levi v Bates, heard 23-26 April 2012 (HHJ Gosnell)
Also on Inforrm last week
- News: Harassment by football matchday programme: the hearing in Levi v Bates
- The Supreme Court of Canada: internet defamation, choice of law and libel tourism – Antonin I Pribetic
- Sir Stephen Sedley proposes statutory media regulation
- Opinion: “Rupert Murdoch’s influence: the wink stops here” – Brian Cathcart
- Case Law Australia: Forrest v Chlanda, Estate Agent wins libel damages – Justin Castelan
- Case Law: R (London Christian Radio) v Radio Advertising Clearance Centre, Ban on Christian advertising was lawful – Rosalind English
- The Right of Reply and Correction: The Slovenian Experience – Marko Milosavljevic
- Opinion: Legal and ethical issues for televising and tweeting court – Judith Townend
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.