Leveson, phone hacking and press regulation have been overshadowed this week by the ongoing crisis at the BBC, which has seen the director general George Entwistle resign after 54 full days in post. Prior to his resignation, the BBC issued an “unreserved apology for a Newsnight report which led to Lord McAlpine being wrongly implicated in the alleged sexual abuse of children at north Wales care homes“. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a named contributor to the Newsnight programme, has published a statement from its trustees here. The Independent speculates on the likely candidates for the D-G job here.
There has been a range of broader commentary: Inforrm published an analysis in relation to Lord McAlpine, the Newsnight programme and libel here. The wider implications for the BBC are discussed here by POLIS director Charlie Beckett and by Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, here. Michael Crick asked what the media can learn from previous scandals, while Stewart Purvis set out a chronology of the Savile crisis (up until 1 November).
The Leveson Inquiry updated its website on 9 November 2012, stating that:
“The formal evidence gathering phase of the Inquiry finished on 24 July and the Report of the Inquiry is now being prepared. Consequently only in exceptional circumstances will the Inquiry consider information provided to it after 9 November 2012“.
Andy Coulson, former News of the World editor, has challenged a high court ruling that News International does not have to pay his legal fees over the phone hacking scandal in the Court of Appeal, as was reported by the Guardian here. Lord Justice Laws, Lord Justice Sullivan and Lord Justice McCombe reserved judgment (Coulson v NGN, heard 8 November 2012).
Lawyers acting for the principal of a Catholic university college “are to apply for a court order in an attempt to force the editor of the website Independent Catholic News to reveal the identity of an anonymous source“, reported The Tablet, the Catholic news website.
Tweet of the week goes to News Corps CEO Rupert Murdoch, apparently commenting on the BBC Newsnight programme, here: “Editor-in-chief apologises and pleads total ignorance. Press having field day! What are editors for?”…
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
Please let us know if there is anything to report in this section: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Journalism and regulation
There are no new adjudications to report but several new resolved cases: Mr Robert Stevenson v The Sunday Times, Clause 1, 09/11/2012; Steve and Angie Collins v Hertfordshire Mercury, Clause 1, 08/11/2012; Mr Jonathan Apps & Ms Tina Hallett v North Somerset Times, Clause 1, 08/11/2012; Mr Jonathan Apps & Ms Tina Hallett v The Sun, Clause 1, 08/11/2012; Ms Christine Kwiecinski v Daily Mail, Clauses 1, 2, 4, 12, 08/11/2012;
A woman v Daily Mail, Clause 9, 08/11/2012; Miss Sunnie De Pass v Islington Gazette, Clause 1, 08/11/2012; The Diarrassouba family v Daily Mail, Clauses 1, 5, 08/11/2012; A woman v Evening Chronicle (Newcastle upon Tyne), Clause 1, 08/11/2012; A woman v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 08/11/2012; A woman v Daily Mirror, Clause 1, 08/11/2012; Ms Lauren Reilly v Scottish Daily Mail, Clause 1, 08/11/2012; Ms Lauren Reilly v Daily Record, Clause 1, 08/11/2012; A woman v Crewe Chronicle, Clauses 1, 3, 5, 08/11/2012; Richard Ward v The Daily Telegraph, Clause 1, 08/11/2012; Mr Mark Rolfe v Sevenoaks Chronicle, Clause 1 , 06/11/2012.
The National Union of Journalists has come under fire in the press and online for its stance on media regulation – in favour of statutory underpinning. The union has now published a statement on its website elaborating its position. Press Gazette’s latest piece on the debate is here.
The journalist Matthew Parris gave a talk on the Leveson Inquiry and ‘The Stealthy Victory of Propriety over Truth’ at an event organised by the Media Lawyers’ Association last Tuesday. It was reported by PA Media Lawyer here (£).
Research & resources
- Out-Law.com commentary: ‘Google unlikely to be held liable for defamatory ‘autocomplete’ suggestions in UK’
- Eric P. Robinson, Digital Media Law Project: ‘Amici Line Up In Appeal of “Blogger Not a Journalist” Ruling’
- Open Data Communities, http://opendatacommunities.org/data (HT: Democratic Society)
In the Courts
The trial in the case of Mengi v Hermitage continued before Bean J and is part heard.
The trial in the case of Kim v Tong began before HHJ Moloney QC on 5 November 2012 but settled on 6 November 2012. The same judge heard an application to read a statement in open court in the case on 9 November 2012
On Tuesday 6 November 2012 Tugendhat J heard an application for interim injunction in the case of APW v PWA. The judgment, refusing the injunction on the grounds that there was no threat of repetition, was handed down on Thursday 8 November 2012 ( EWHC 3151 (QB)).
On 7 November 2012 HHJ Moloney QC heard applications in the case of Barrett v Hackney BC. The matter is part heard and will resume on 16 November 2012.
On 8 November 2012 the Court of Appeal (Laws, Sullivan and McCombe LLJ) heard the appeal in Coulson v News Group, as noted above. Judgment was reserved.
On the same day Eady J gave judgment in the case of Ansari v Knowles  EWHC 3137 (QB)
13 November 2012, 6.30pm, ‘Regulating for Communication’, Baroness Onora O’Neill, Goldsmiths University, London.
19 November 2011, all day, Media and War: challenging the consensus, Goldsmiths University, London.
19 November 2012, The Poetry of Free Expression: Celebrating 40 years of Index on Censorship, Index on Censorship / Poet in the City. King’s Place, London.
19 November 2012, 5:30pm to 7pm. More News is Good News: Democracy & Media in India. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford.
20 November 2012, 5-8 pm, JUSTICE event: Life and Law Online: Defamation, freedom of expression and the web. Hunton & Williams, 30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP.
25 November 2012, 2.30pm to 6pm, John Smith Memorial Mace 2012: Media Regulation Debate (Parliament Week), The English Speaking Union. London.
28 November 2012, 6pm ‘CEL Annual Lecture 2012: Media Freedoms & Media Standards’, Baroness Onora O’Neill, London.
29 November 2012, IBC Legal: 6th annual Social Media and the Law, London.
Know of any media law events happening in the autumn/winter? Please let Inforrm know: email@example.com.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
In the case of Trkulja v Google Inc the Supreme Court of Victoria (Beach J and jury) decided that Google was liable in damages to the plaintiff for continuing to publish a photograph of him with various criminals. There is a comment about the case on the Defamation Watch blog. Inforrm hopes to have case comment shortly.
In Belbin & Ors v Lower Murray Urban and Rural Water Corporation  VSC 535 (9 November 2012) a libel trial dealt with a letter published on the defendant’s website. The case concerned the investment of public money in Victoria. Kaye J found for the plaintiffs and awarded damages of Aus$70,000 to three plaintiffs and of Aus$85,000 to the fourth plaintiff. There are news reports of the case in the Sunrayasia Daily and the Weekly Times.
The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) granted leave to appeal in United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 v Alberta (Attorney General) 2012 ABCA 130, a case involving union workers on strike who filmed people crossing a picket line and threatened to post the images online. As The Court website sets out here, “the issue before the SCC is whether posting such images is an invasion of privacy contrary to Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA)“.
Bradley Manning, the US Army private who has been charged with sending government secrets to Wikileaks is offering to plead guilty to some offences, his lawyer said during a pre-trial hearing in Fort Meade, Maryland.
Next week in the courts
On Monday 12 November 2012 Tugendhat J will hear an application in the case of O’Dwyer v ITV plc. A redacted copy of the Particulars of Claim can be found here [PDF].
On the same day, HHJ Moloney QC will hear the trial in the case of Gatt v Barclays Bank plc (listed for 3 days).
The trial in the case of Mengi v Hermitage will continue before Bean J.
On 15 November 2012, Tugendhat J will deal with the costs issues in Joseph v Spiller.
On 16 November 2012 HHJ Moloney QC will resume hearing the part-heard applications in the case of Barrett v Hackney BC.
On the same day there will be an application in the case of Subotic v Knezevic.
Next week in Parliament
Tuesday 13 November 2012, 9.30am, Public Administration select committee. Subject: Public engagement in policy-making. Witness(es): David Babbs, Executive Director, 38 Degrees; Stephan Shakespeare, Chief Executive Officer, YouGov; and Tom Steinberg, Director, My Society; Roger Hampson, Chief Executive, London Borough of Redbridge; Catarina Tully, Director, FromOverHere; and Professor Beth Noveck.
Location: Room 16, Palace of Westminster, House of Commons.
Tuesday 13 November 2012, 2.30pm, Legislation. Crime and Courts Bill [HL] – Committee of the whole House (Day 8) – Lord Henley, Main Chamber, House of Lords.
Tuesday 13 November 2012, 3.15pm, Communications select committee. Subject: Media Convergence. Witness(es): Mr Sean Williams, Group Director of Strategy, Policy and Portfolio, BT; and (at 4.30pm) from Mr David Wheeldon, Director of Policy & Public Affairs; and Mr Alan Sewell, Chief Economist, BSkyB. Location: Committee Room 2, Palace of Westminster.
The House of Commons and the House of Lords will be in recess from 14 and 15 November, respectively. The Houses will next sit on Monday 19 November 2012.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
Miller v Associated Newspapers heard 21 to 25 May 2012 (Sharp J)
Abbey v Evening Standard, heard 30 and 31 October and 1 November 2012 (Tugendhat J)
Iqbal v Mansoor, heard 31 October 2012 (Rix, Etherton and Lewison LJJ)
Coulson v NGN heard 8 November 2012 (Laws, Sullivan and McCombe LJJ)
Also on Inforrm last week
- The BBC, Lord McAlpine and Libel Law
- Campaign Lies and the First Amendment – Jacob Rowbottom
- JUSTICE training event: Life and Law Online: Defamation, freedom of expression and the web – 20 November 2012
- Internet Anonymity: A Very British Dilemma – Paul Bernal
- Hacked Off: Cross Party Momentum – Brian Cathcart
- Case Law, Canada (Human Rights Commission) v Warman: Hate speech and the Canadian Human Rights Commission – Eloise le Santo
- A New Style Public Interest Defence in Libel Law? – Andrew Scott and Alastair Mullis
- South Africa: Zuma v Zapiro and the rape of the justice system – Dario Milo
- Journalisted, week ending 4 November 2012, Hurricane Sandy, US elections and Police Commissioners
- Privacy and the paparazzi: the Spanish Supreme Court view – Eduardo Zamora and Isabel Martorell
- Regulation in the Age of Convergence – Damien Carrick
- Brazil and the Self-Regulation of a once state-controlled press – Thais Portilho-Shrimpton
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.