Law and Media Round Up – 26 January 2015

26 01 2015

Round New 2The jury at the Sun Six Trial at Kingston Crown Court were discharged after failing to reach verdicts in relation to four of the six defendants after a three month trial and 49 hours of deliberation.

Head of news Chris Pharo, ex-deputy news editor Ben O’Driscoll, reporter Jamie Pyatt and former managing editor Graham Dudman had been accused – along with two colleagues – of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office and now face a retrial.  The decision was controversial, with Roy Greenslade arguing that the prosecutions had little merit.

Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne is suing Express Newspapers after a 2013 front page headlined “Gazza on drunken betting spree”. The action comes after the footballer won damages from Express Newspapers last year.

Cilla Black has settled her phone hacking claim against Mirror Group Newspapers for “substantial” damages.  Mann J heard that a number of other claimants including those brought by Peter Andre, Darren Day and Jessie Wallace had also settled actions.  A trial of 8 lead actions will take place next month.

Andy Coulson will face a re-trial in June over the acquisition of royal directories while he was in charge at the News of the World. The former No 10 spin doctor is charged, along with former royal editor Clive Goodman, with two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office in relation to payments to police officers for books containing Palace contacts.

A NUJ meeting on free speech was forced to relocate due to security concerns. The meeting attracted controversy over the motions it was planning to debate, particularly one which described French magazine Charlie Hebdo as “racist and islamophobic”. This motion was not debated, and a general discussion on free speech was held instead.

A senior police officer has been dismissed from the Metropolitan Police, two years after being arrested for sharing information with a journalist. Although former chief superintendent Andy Rowell faced no criminal charges, he remained suspended pending the outcome of disciplinary action.

David Hobbs, a former prison support worker, has pleaded guilty to misconduct after selling information about murderer John Venables to News International.  Hobbs was charged last year after emails released to the police by News International identified him. We had a piece about it here.

The Press Gazette’s ‘Save our Sources’ campaign continues to gather momentum, with every national newspaper editor signing a joint letter of protest. Around 100 editors signed the request, warning that use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act puts journalists’ sources at risk.

Data Protection

The Olswang data protection blog has announced the launch of a weekly cyber update. The first update notes, amongst other developments that fact that the UK government has published updated cybersecurity guidance (originally published in 2012) for businesses.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

There were no statements in open court this week.

Newspapers, Journalism and regulation

IPSO has published a number of further “rulings” on its website. These include a partially upheld ruling on a complaint against the Wiltshire Times by former teacher Benjamin Hutchins. The committee found that the article had misrepresented his conduct by referring to “pupils” rather than “pupil”, but dismissed other objections.

Last Week in the Courts

On 19 and 20 January 2015, the Supreme Court heard the appeal in the case of OPO v MLA.  Judgment was reserved.  There were reports of the hearing in the Guardian and the Independent. Due to reporting restrictions, the hearing was not live streamed.

On 19 January 2015, Warby J heard applications in the case of Simpson v MGN.  He reserved judgment for a short period, handing it down on Wednesday 21 January 2015 ([2015] EWHC 77 (QB))

On 21 January 2015, the Court of Appeal (Longmore, Ryder and Sharp LJJ) heard the appeal in the case of Murray v Associated Newspapers.  Judgment was reserved.  There was a report of the hearing in the Press Gazette and on Digital Spy.

On the same day Warby J handed down judgment in the case of Sloutsker v Romanova ([2015] EWHC 81 (QB)) adjourning an application to set aside service of a libel claim in Russia.

The trial of the libel case of Rai v Bholowasia was heard by HHJ Parkes QC on 19 to 23 January 2015 and will resume on Monday 26 January 2015.

On 22 and 23 January 2015 there was a hearing in the Mirror Group phone hacking litigation, Various Claimants v MGN.  Statements in Open Court were read on behalf of a number of individuals.  There were reports in the Press Gazette and on Sky News.  The Independent had a news report entitled “Hacking by Mirror ‘worse than at Murdoch papers’

Events

27 January 2015: “Campaigning newspapers in a digital age” News UK, London Bridge

4 February 2015: “Freedom of Information: Ten Years On: Freedom Fighting or Lazy Journalism”, The Media Society, London

24 February 2015, “Does Privacy Matter?” Launch of IALS Centre for Law and Information Policy, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

4 March 2015: “Oxford Media Convention, IPPR” Said Business School, University of Oxford

Know of any media law events happening later this summer or in the autumn? Please let Inforrm know: inforrmeditorial@gmail.com.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Australia

We are pleased to note that Inforrm’s friend Justin Castelan’s Defamation Watch website has, as promised, moved back into action in 2015.  He has posts about the cases of Cripps v Vakras and Lower Murray Urban and Rural Water Corporation v Di Masi.  We will be reposting some of his new material shortly.

The Queensland premier is suing a broadcaster and a radio station for comments made during the state election campaign. Campbell Newman has lodged a claim against broadcaster Alan Jones, relating to comments he made about the Newman government’s approval of a mine expansion.

Opposition is growing over State Government plans to extend defamation laws. Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin has suggesting restoring the right of companies to sue individuals for damaging their reputations.

Canada

On 16 January 2015, Funt J gave judgment in the libel and privacy case of Batyka v Barber 2015 BCSC 63.  The case concerned oral statements made in the context of a shareholder dispute and the alleged interception of email.  Defamation damages of Can$30,000 were awarded.  The privacy claim was dismissed.

On 19 January 2015, Mew J in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice handed down judgment in the libel case of Bernstein v Poon 2015 ONSC 155. The action concerned comments made the defendant, Dr Pat Poon, about the “Bernstein Diet” created by the plaintiff, Dr Stanley Bernstein. After a seven and a half day trial and a lengthy judgment, the judge held that most of the words complained of were fair comment.  He awarded damages of Can $10,000.  The judge was not impressed with the claim generally, commenting

In my view, this case is more about ego than injury. It is more about turf warfare in the competitive world of diet medicine than about reputation. [177]

There were reports about the case in the Toronto Sun and on CTV News.

India

It is reported that cricketer Ravindra Jadeja has brought defamation proceedings against the editor of a Rajkot-based evening newspaper for defamation, seeking damages of Rs 51 crore. The claim concerns a report alleging that Jadeja and his business partner Jenesih Ajmera had links with Bali Dangar who is facing charges of land grabbing and extortion.

Mongolia

A researcher has been fined and faces defamation charges after criticising a Mongolian former minister on twitter.   Mr. A. Gansukh has filed a criminal lawsuit against Mr L. Davaapil, who has already been ordered to pay a $5,200 compensation fine.

South Korea

Two journalists have been acquitted of defamation charges after being accused of defaming the President Park Geun- hye’s brother. The charges related to accusations that Park’s younger brother had been involved in the death of his cousin.

Tunisia

Criticism over the conviction of blogger Yassine Ayari is growing. Ayari, was sentenced to one year of prison by military justice for defaming the Tunisian national army. Article 19 have denounced the conviction and are calling for his immediate release.

Portugal

Kate and Gerry McCann have won a court ruling in their libel claim against a former police chief. The couple are suing Goncalo Amaral after his 2008 book ‘The Truth of the Lie’ accused them of faking their daughter’s kidnap to cover up her death. A Portugese judge has concluded that the couple were “emotionally hurt” by the publication.

USA

Real Housewives of Miami star Joanna Krupa has filed a defamation suit against her co-star Brandi Glanville. The model is launching a civil suit in Florida, claiming “slander, libel, defamation and/or intentional inflection of emotional distress”.

Research and Resources

Next week in the courts

The trial in Rai v Bholowasia will resume on Monday 26 January 2015 before HHJ Parkes QC.

On 26 January 2015, Warby J will hear the CMC and an application in the case of Yeo v Times Newspapers. 

On 27 January 2015 Warby J will give judgment in the case of Ames & anr v The Spamhaus Project Ltd, heard on 12 December 2014.

On 28 January 2015 there will be an application in the case of Al Saud & Anor v Forbes LLC & Ors. A judgment was given on 26 November 2014 by Sir Michael Tugendhat ([2014] EWHC 3823 (QB)).

On the same day there will be an application in the libel case of Liberty Fashion Wears Ltd v Primark Stores Limited. 

On 28 or 29 January 2015 the Court of Appeal will hear the appeal in the case of R (Ingenious Media) v HMRC.  We had a post about the first instance decision by Philippa Whipple QC.

On 30 January 2015, the case of Mitchell v NGN will be heard before Mitting J.

Judgments

The following reserved judgment in media law cases are outstanding:

R (Evans) v HM Attorney-General, heard 24 and 25 November 2014 (UK Supreme Court)

Rufus v Elliott, heard 10 December 2014 (McCombe and Sharp LJJ and Mitting J)

Cruddas v Calvert, heard 9, 10 and 11 December 2014 (Jackson, Ryder and Christopher Clarke LJJ)

OPO v MLA, heard 19 and 20 January 2015 (UK Supreme Court)

Murray v Associated Newspapers, heard 21 January 2015 (Longmore, Ryder and Sharp LJJ)

This Round Up was compiled by Tessa Evans, a journalist and researcher.  She tweets @tessadevans


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