Chris Huhne MP’s partner Carina Trimingham has lost her privacy claim against Associated Newspapers, with Tugendhat J refusing permission to appeal ( EWHC1296 (QB)). Her claim related to 65 articles and three separate statutes: misuse of private information pursuant to the Human Rights Act 1998 and ECHR Art 8; the Protection from Harassment Act 1997; and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, s.97, as the RPC blog explains here. The judge found that “Ms Trimingham was not the purely private figure she claims to be” and that her “reasonable expectation of privacy has become limited“.
Daily Mail journalist and Stonewall member Andrew Pierce responded to the judgment with a column asking ‘If the Daily Mail is homophobic, why on earth do I work for it, Miss Trimingham?‘. “We were reporting the effects of the very public disintegration of a high profile political marriage,” he claimed. In the Guardian, Peter Preston argues “vulgar abuse has been part of the way we conduct our public business“.
On the Constitution Unit Blog, Brian Walker assesses the dropped Contempt proceedings against former Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain. As the BBC reports here, the Attorney General John Larkin decided not to pursue the case after Hain clarified his statements about a high court judge in his memoirs, ‘Outside In’. Hain and his publisher Biteback Publishing said that the decision was “a victory for freedom of speech,” and challenged the Attorney General’s comments in court, in a statement available here.
Last week Lord Justice Leveson heard from Labour and Conservative politicians, on media policy as Natalie Peck summarises here. It was Jeremy Hunt’s former special adviser Adam Smith and News Corporation lobbyist Frédéric Michel, however, who dominated the news coverage. Next week, the Inquiry hears from Jeremy Hunt as well as Tony Blair, Vince Cable, Theresa May and Michael Gove (see below, ‘Next Week at the Leveson Inquiry’).
The Metropolitan Police has made its 30th arrest as part of Operation Elveden.
An interesting apology has been negotiated for HRH The Duchess of Cambridge by the Press Complaints Commission, although a report of the resolved complaint has not yet been published. Heat Magazine has apologised for publishing a photograph of the Duchess shopping at a supermarket. The clause 3 (privacy) and 4 (harassment) complaint was made via Harbottle & Lewis solicitors. The RPC Privacy Blog asks what’s wrong with publishing a picture of the Duchess of Cambridge shopping? “It would not necessarily have been actionable as a misuse of private information,” it comments.
Article 19 has a brief report on questions raised at the Universal Periodic Review of the UK and Northern Ireland, 7th Meeting, 13th Session. UN member states asked the UK about ‘super-injunctions’, online freedom of expression and the defamation bill:
“The UK’s representative at the review, Lord McNally, responded to the questions and recommendations regarding defamation and its impact on freedom of expression by stating that ‘his baby’ aimed to get the balance right between a free media and the right of the individual to privacy, and that it was regarded as a ‘good law’ by civil society.“
A video of Lord McNally’s final remarks is available here.
Journalism.co.uk spoke to the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer about social media and the consultation on the DPP’s interim prosecuting guidelines concerning media and the public interest. Starmer said: “[The consultation] applies to social media, to online reporting, and one of the things we have not done in the guidelines, is to define journalists, because that’s not easy to define and we didn’t want to run into problems of definition“.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of anything to report in this section (please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any relevant information).
Journalism and regulation
The Press Complaints Commission has upheld a Clause 5 (intrusion into grief or shock) complaint against the Daily Record, after it published a photograph that showed the complainant’s husband’s body in the vehicle in which he had died, with his injured face “clearly visible“. While the Commission found that the newspaper responded with “an appropriate and responsible reaction” (it published an apology, tightened its editorial procedures and the editor offered to apologise to family members in person) “it concluded that the action taken by the newspaper was insufficient to remedy the breach of the Code; and moreover, that the breach on this occasion was not capable of remedy“. (Mrs Laura McQueen v Daily Record, Clause 5, 24/05/2012).
Precious Douaihy’s complaint (clause 3,5) about the Sun was resolved when it apologised for publishing a photograph and article about her relationship with Mark Duggan, who was killed by police in 2011. The newspaper said it accepted “that the publication of this article, based upon intrusive information about Ms Douaihy, was inappropriate and that the photograph, which was taken in unsuitable circumstances, should not have been published.”
Other resolved cases last week include: Diana Williams v Daily Post (Welsh Edition) Clauses 1, 5, 21/05/2012; Ms Karen Lindsay v Chat, Clause 3, 23/05/2012; Mr Nigel May v The Times, Clause 1, 23/05/2012; Mrs Anna Bruce-Hou v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 23/05/2012; Mr Richard Barnbrook v Evening Standard, Clause 1, 25/05/2012.
In a post on the Speaker’s Corner Trust website, Lord Hunt, chair of the Press Complaints Commission and Angela Phillips, chair of the Ethics Committee of the Coordinating Committee for Media Reform, debated issues around the question: ‘A Regulated Free Press – Compromise or Contradiction?‘
The Tabloid Watch Blog draws our attention to David Baddiel’s tweet disputing a story in the Sun, which claimed the comedian was to take Class A drugs live on television. Meanwhile, earlier in the week it reported football commentator Gary Lineker’s complaint with a Daily Star front page headline that read: “Lineker: England Team Are Losers“. Lineker denied saying this and secured a clarification in the paper on page two. He tweeted, however, “Food for thought for the #Levesoninquiry , all apologies/retractions, should be on same page, and same size as offending article”.
A piece on the Guardian site outlines why it turns comments off on certain articles. Director of editorial legal services Gill Phillips explains:
“Often below-the-line comments do not simply “fairly and accurately” report what was said as opposed to passing comment on it so, as we have responsibilities as the publisher of all the material on our website (whether above or below the line), we do have to be very careful about allowing comments on Leveson pieces that touch on or refer to anyone who has been arrested.“
Research & resources
- David Allen Green has collected a selection of links relating to the Defamation Bill 2012, on a resource page here.
- Seminar video: ‘A Public Right to Hear and Press Freedom in an Age of Networked Journalism‘, Mike Ananny, Berkman Center Fellow, from an event on 22 May, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University.
In the Courts
The libel trial in the case of Miller v Associated Newspapers was heard on 21 to 25 May 2012 before Sharp J, sitting without a jury. There was one short news report about the trial. Judgment was reserved.
On Monday 21 May 2012 there was an application concerning mode of trial in the case of Lewis v Commissioner of Police before Tugendhat J. He gave judgment on Friday 25 May 2012, dismissing the application ( EWHC 1391 (QB)). There was an Inforrm post about the decision. The trial will commence on 3 July 2012.
As discussed above, on Thursday 24 May 2012, Tugendhat J handed down judgment in the case of Trimingham v Associated Newspapers ( EWHC1296 (QB)). The action was dismissed.
On Friday 25 May 2012, Tugendhat J heard the application in the case of Subotic v Knezevic. Judgment was reserved.
30 May, 9am – 7.30pm: Conference: ‘After phone hacking, what next?’ / Charles Wheeler Award, University of Westminster, London.
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.
15 June 2012, 11am-17.30pm, Terrorism & Security Research in the UK: Using and Understanding Legal Resources, organised by Law, Terrorism and the Right to Know Project at the University of Reading / Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. IALS, London
22 June 2012, 10.30am-1pm: Changing the face of freedom, Free Word Centre, London.
28 June 2012, all day, LexisNexis Defamation & Privacy conference, London.
1-27 August, 5pm, Comedy: ‘One Rogue Reporter‘, Rich Peppiatt / Something for the Weekend, Edinburgh Festival.
Know of any media law events happening in June / July? Please let Inforrm know: email@example.com.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Australia: In the case of Shiels v Manny ( ACTCA 22) the Australian Capital Territories Court of Appeal increased the award of damages in an libel case from Aus$20,000 to 50,000. The claim arose out of a letter sent by the defendant’s to the plaintiff’s employer alleging he had molested girls. There was a news story about the case on the ABC News website.
Canada: In Gichuru v. Pallai 2012 BCSC 693 the Supreme Court of British Columbia granted summary judgment to the defendant in a libel case based on a publication in a thread on the “Discover Vancouver” website on the basis that the plaintiff had not established responsibility for publication by the defendant. In any event, there was a defence of qualified privilege.
Ireland: The Irish Examiner reports that an action for defamation brought by one publican against another for remarks made at Cork Vintners’ Federation’s AGM. The judge refused to make any order for costs on the basis that the case arose from an “unfortunate situation” and they were all members of one association.
Namibia: The Ondangwa Magistrate’s court has ordered the Swapo Ohangwena regional councillor for the Ondobe Constituency, Mandume Pohamba, to pay N$20,000 in damages for defamation to a retired teacher, Priscilla Kambonde, who sued Pohamba for making false accusations against her at public meetings held at the Ohalushu Community Centre in 2008 and 2009.
India: Inforrm reported on criminal and constitutional proceedings that have been brought by retired Lt Gen. Tejinder Singh, a former director general of Defence Intelligence Agency, against the Army Chief of Staff, General V K Singh and four others over a press release making an allegations of bribery against him. The criminal proceedings are continuing but the constitutional proceedings were not successful.
Next week in the courts
On Monday 28 May 2012 the libel trial in the case of Wiseman v Sullivan will begin before Eady J (sitting without a jury). The trial is listed for 4 days.
On Tuesday 29 May 2012 Slade J will give judgment in the case of WXY v Gewante, heard 9 to 11 May 2012.
On Thursday 31 May 2012 there is an application in the case of Cooper v Associated Newspapers Limited. The trial is due to commence on 18 June 2012 before a judge and jury.
On Friday 1 June 2012 there will be the fourth Case Management Conference in the second tranche of the Voicemail Interception litigation, before Vos J.
Next week at the Leveson Inquiry
Monday 28th May, 10:00 – 16:30, Tony Blair
Tuesday 29th May, 10:00 – 16:30, Michael Gove; MP Theresa May MP
Wednesday 30th May, 10:00 – 16:30, Vince Cable MP; Ken Clarke MP
Thursday 31st May, 10:00 – 16:30, Jeremy Hunt MP
Next week in Parliament
Monday 28 May, 2.30pm: Legislation: Crime and Courts Bill [HL] – Second reading – Lord Henley. Main Chamber, House of Lords. [The bill examines the structure, administration, proceedings and powers of courts and tribunals.]
The House of Commons is in recess. The House will next sit on Monday 11 June 2012.
The House of Lords will be in recess from Thursday 31 May 2012. The House will next sit on Monday 11 June 2012.
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)
Bento v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire, heard 3 April 2012 (Maurice Kay and Hooper LJJ and Henderson J)
Levi v Bates, heard 23-26 April 2012 (HHJ Gosnell)
Bento v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire, heard 24 to 27 and 30 April and 1 to 3, 8 and 9 May 2012 (Bean J)
Phillips v Mulcaire, heard 8 to 10 May 2012 (Supreme Court)
Subotic v Knezevic, heard 25 May 2012 (Tugendhat J).
Miller v Associated Newspapers heard 21 to 25 May 2012 (Sharp J).
Also on Inforrm last week
- News: MPs to debate Select Committee Phone Hacking Report
- Procedure: The defamation costs budgeting scheme – ignore it at your peril: Keith Mathieson
- “A Year in Media Law: the view from Australia” – Peter Bartlett
- Case Law, Jersey: Pitman v Jersey Evening Post, cartoon not defamatory
- Northern Ireland Anonymity Orders – Partial Victory for the Press – Helen Gilmore
- News: Opinion Poll, majority support for statutory regulation of the press [updated]
- Case Law, Australia: Gunston v Davies Brothers Ltd, Hobart Mercury’s Sleazy Campaign Yields Record Damages – Justin Castelan
- Sunlight is the best disinfectant: open justice and company law proceedings in Ireland – Eoin O’Dell
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.