Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keir Starmer has issued final guidelines to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on prosecutions involving social media communications, as Out-Law.com reports here. According to the DPP, “the three month consultation period has shown that the interim guidelines, published in December 2012, were in the right place“.
Not everyone was happy with the new guidelines. The Obscenity Lawyer blog expressed serious concerns about the lack of clarity about the words “indecent” and “obscene” and about the prosecution of private fantasy one-to-one text chat.
A Guardian exclusive report alleges that an undercover police officer co-authored the famous “McLibel” leaflet in the late 1980s, which led to the longest running civil trial in English history.
The CPS has released statements on new charging decisions in Operation Elveden on 18 June and 21 June announcing decisions to charge Sun journalist Nick Parker, prison officer Lee Brockhouse and Jamie Pyatt, a journalist at The Sun newspaper, John Edwards, Pictures Editor at The Sun newspaper, and Robert Neave, a former healthcare assistant at Broadmoor Hospital.
The editor of the Financial Times Lionel Barber used his appearance in front of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee to call for the intervention of Lord Grade in press regulation talks as a “mediator”. The campaign group Hacked Off said it disagreed with his suggestion, with a number of victims of press abuse calling for “no more compromise”.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
The publishers of the Daily Mail have agreed to pay damages of £125,000 to the “psychic to the stars”, Sally Morgan, in respect of an article which alleged that she had cheated an audience in Dublin by using an earpiece. The trial of the action had been due to commence on 10 June 2013 but a settlement was announced in a Statement in Open Court [pdf] read to Mr Justice Tugendhat on 20 June 2013, as reported by Inforrm here.
Journalism and regulation
There are some new editorial appointments to note: Amol Rajan is to become editor of the Independent, while Oly Duff will edit its sister freesheet, the i. Meanwhile, David Dinsmore has been announced as the Sun’s next editor.
There have been no new PCC adjudications, but several resolutions: Wonga v The Mail on Sunday, Clause 1, 21/06/2013; Richard Crooks v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 20/06/2013; Mr Joe O’Brien v The Sun, Clause 1, 20/06/2013; Association of Chief Police Officers v The Daily Telegraph, Clause 1, 20/06/2013; Ms Kate Fawcett v The Sun, Clauses 1, 10, 18/06/2013; Mr Phillip Sherratt v The Sentinel (Staffordshire), Clause 1, 17/06/2013.
Commentary, research & resources
- Guardian: The readers’ editor on… how a misidentified photo can accidentally be published
- New Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism report: Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and Journalism: Opportunities and Challenges of Drones in Newsgathering,’ authored by David Goldberg, Mark Corcoran, and Robert G. Picard
- Jill Lepore, The New Yorker: Privacy in an age of publicity
- Culture Media and Sport Committee – New Written Evidence
- Out-Law.com – Privacy watchdogs ask for details about Google Glass device
- HoldtheFrontPage – Newspaper warns of ‘culture of secrecy’ after naming ban
- Lex Ferenda: Preview: media & communications at SLS 2013
- Mathew Ingram: The NSA story isn’t “journalistic malfeasance” — it’s a story that is evolving in real time
- Erika Rackley: Judgment day for gender: is diversity crucial in court?
- FoI Man: The Exemption Index – FOI Section 36
- Robert Sharp: Check your privilege: Whose free speech is it anyway?
- Privacy International: Interested in journalism? Volunteer with Privacy International
- UK Supreme Court Blog: Case Comment: Public Relations Consultants Association Ltd v The Newspaper Licensing Agency Ltd & Ors  UKSC 18
- Lord Neuberger: Judges and Policy: A Delicate Balance [PDF]
- Sonia Livingstone, LSE, Protecting Children Online: Two Strategies in Which Industry Could Do More
- Law Society Gazette, Julian Pike: Defamation on social media
In the Courts
The Court of Appeal have allowed the appeal of the Sunday Times in the libel case brought former Conservative Party Treasurer, Peter Cruddas ( EWCA Civ 748) against the ruling of Mr Justice Tugendhat that the published articles made an allegation of corruption contrary to the criminal law ( EWHC 1427 (QB)). The Court set aside the orders striking out the defence of justification and entering judgment for the claimant. The trial will now have to proceed, as reported by Inforrm here.
On 18 June 2013, Maurice Kay LJ refused permission to appeal in the case of Makudi v Triesman.
Reporting restrictions preventing two witnesses to Dale Cregan’s killing spree in Manchester in 2012 discussing their experiences have been lifted. Holroyde J allowed an application on behalf of NGN. One Brick Court reports here.
24-25 June 2013, The Constitution of the Public Sphere: the post-Leveson Landscape (W G Hart Legal Workshop 2013), Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London.
26 June 2013, 6pm, Turning the Page on Media Sexism, NUJ, London.
Until 9 July 2013, Co-operatives UK and Carnegie UK Trust events on ‘Make your local news work’, various locations, UK.
17 September 2013, IBC Legal’s Protecting the Media 2013, London.
26-27 September 2013, Jersey Law Via the Internet 2013, Radisson Blu Hotel, Jersey
8-9 April 2014, “1984: Freedom and Censorship in the Media – Where Are We Now?“, Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Sunderland
Know of any media law events happening in the next few months? Please let Inforrm know: email@example.com.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Ecuador: The National Assembly has approved a new Communications Law, as reported by IFEX here. The International Press Institute has raised concerns about the law and its implication for freedom of expression here.
New Zealand: In a judgment handed down on 4 June 2013, Flannagan v. Sperling [pdf] (DC Waitakere), a court has ordered a blogger to indefinitely remove more than a hundred posts and comments attacking the reputation of a lawyer, and not to write about her again, as reported by Steven Price here. He argues that the harassment case “may have opened up a cheap highway through the expensive labyrinth of defamation law“.
Niger: RSF reports that three Al Jazeera journalists and their driver have been released, two days after being arrested near Zinder for “travelling without accreditation“.
The American Civil Liberties Union notes “an important First Amendment decision“: the Supreme Court’s ruling that the government may not require federal grant recipients to endorse the government’s policy positions.
Next week in the courts
On Monay 24 June 2013 Mrs Justice Sharp will hear an application in the case of Tamiz v Guardian News and Media.
There are a couple of forthcoming hearings for July to record:
In McGrath v Independent Print Ltd, Chris McGrath has sued The Independent newspaper for its coverage of a previous libel case in which he was a claimant: McGrath & Anor v Dawkins & Ors. A CMC has been listed for 9 July. Press Gazette reported on the case in May.
In Kearns v Kemp (see BBC report here), a typist in Milton Keynes is being sued by Kirby Kearns, a media production company based in Qatar, for remarks she made on Twitter. On 15 March 2013 Mrs. Kemp was the subject of an “unless order” to pay £824.20 in costs. The “unless” provision was stayed by Nicol J and the Defendants were given leave to appeal by Tugendhat J. The appeal is due to be heard on 24 July.
Next week in Parliament
Tuesday 25 June, 8.55am, Third Delegated Legislation Committee. Subject: The Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 (Code of Practice) Order 2013 (S.I., 2013, No. 1128). Location: Committee Room 11, Palace of Westminster, House of Commons; 2.30pm, Fourth Delegated Legislation Committee, Subject: Draft Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 (Extension of duration of non-jury trial provisions) Order 2013. Location: Committee Room 12, Palace of Westminster, House of Commons.
Tuesday 25 June 10.30am Inquiries Act 2005. Subject: Inquiries Act 2005,
Witness(es): at 10.40am evidence will be heard from Judith Bernstein, Head of Coroners, Burials, Cremation and Inquiries Policy Team at the Ministry of Justice, and Richard Mason, Deputy Director of Civil Justice, Administrative Justice, and Coroners, Burials, Cremations & Inquiries. Ministry of Justice. Location: Committee Room 4A, Palace of Westminster
Tuesday 25 June, 2.30pm, Legislation – Offender Rehabilitation Bill [HL] – Report stage – Lord McNally, Main Chamber, House of Lords.
Tuesday 25 June, 3.15pm, Communications select committee. Subject: Media plurality
Witness(es): (at 3.30pm) evidence will be heard from Mr Chris Goodall, Enders Analysis; and Dr Jonathan Hardy, Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom and at 4.30 pm from Mr Will Hutton. Location: Committee Room 2, Palace of Westminster.
Wednesday 26 June, 2.30pm, Sixth Delegated Legislation Committee. Subject: Draft Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2013. Location: Committee Room 12, Palace of Westminster, House of Commons.
Wednesday 26 June, 3pm – Oral Questions, Defendants choosing their own lawyer after legal aid reform – Lord Bach, Main Chamber, House of Lords.
Thursday 27 June, 9.30am: Backbench Business – (i) Legal aid reform (ii) Multinational companies and UK corporation tax, Main Chamber, House of Commons.
Thursday 27 June, 1pm: Short Debate – Northern Ireland and the Defamation Act 2013 – Lord Lexden/Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Grand Committee, House of Lords.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
Hunt v Times Newspapers, heard 29 and 30 April, 1-3, 7-10, 13, 16 and 17 May 2013 (Simon J)
Also on Inforrm last week
- Case Law, Australia: Jeffrey v Giles, Low defamation damages for crushed rock operators – Justin Castelan
- Indian media face growing calls for regulation – Sumit Galhotra
- UK Needs Creative Solutions & New Policy Framework for Media Plurality: Interview with Steven Barnett
- New Zealand: Has the Harassment Act just swallowed the law of defamation? – Steven Price
- News: Daily Mail agrees to pay £125,000 libel damages to Sally Morgan
- Case Law: Cruddas v Calvert, Sunday Times appeal allowed in part, no allegation of criminal corruption
- Media Standards Trust: The Story of Six Charters
- Hacked Off: The Press Concessions Strategy
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.