Law and Media Round Up – 16 March 2015

16 03 2015

Round New 2The Mirror Damages Trial continued all week before Mr Justice Mann. in the Chancery Division. The Court heard evidence from Shobna Gulati, Robert Ashworth, Lauren Alcorn, Steve McFadden, Shane Roche, Paul Gascoigne, Lucy Taggart, Dan Evans, Sadie Frost and James Hipwell.  MGN called no evidence.

The parties now have two days to prepare written closing submissions, with oral closing submissions on Wednesday 18 March and Thursday 19 March.

In the Sun Four Trial, the Judge summed up to the jury and sent them out to consider their verdicts.  They continue to deliberate.

The other Operation Elveden trial – R v Wells and others – has received very little publicity over the last two weeks.  The Press Gazette had a report of Mr Wells’ evidence that no-one at the Sun ever said paying public officials could be illegal.

In the final act in the long running Spiller v Joseph libel trial (see our posts here and here), it has been announced that the union Equity has expelled Craig Joseph after he lied in court in the case.  The Union had supported his action, resulting in a costs liability of more than £600,000.

It is reported that West Yorkshire police are considering complaints of fraud and blackmail made against George Galloway and his solicitors arising out of pre-action libel letters regarding comments made against the MP on Twitter.  A previous complaint was dismissed by the police on the basis that the matter was civil and regulatory.

Pitmans website had a post about The Bussey Law Firm v Page, entitled “Landmark win in fake online review defamation case

The Press Gang blog has a post about the Macur Review into the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal, entitled “The Macur Review: A Loss of Confidence”.

The Supreme Court has announced [pdf] that permission to appeal has been granted (by Lords Kerr, Wilson and Reed) in the case of PNM v Times Newspapers.  We had a post on the decision of the Court of Appeal on 5 August 2015.

Data Protection and Data Privacy

We had a post about the recent Dutch Google Spain decision.  There was also a post on the Panopticon Blog entitled “Google Spain, freedom of expression and security: the Dutch fight back”.

The same blog also had a post about the decision of the Supreme Court in R (Catt) v Commissioner of Police: Catt is put back in the bag – supreme court reverses court of appeal in police data retention case”.  There was also a post about the case on the intermittently active RPC Privacy Blog (its first since 4 November 2014).

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

On 12 March 2015, there was a statement in open court in the case of Abbas v Shah.  This concerned a false allegation of domestic violence in the now defunct “London Bangla” newspaper.  The trial had been due to commence on 2 March 2015.

Newspapers, Journalism and regulation

Sir Alan Moses gave a lecture [pdf] at the LSE, defending IPSO against its critics.  Roy Greenslade described him as being “on pugnacious form”.  We had a post by Julia Black about the lecture.

IPSO published a number of rulings including:

Roy Greenslade commented on the leading media story of the week – the suspension of a TV presenter after a “fracas” with his producer – under the headline “Surely Jeremy Clarkson doesn’t deserve so much media attention?”.  Zelo Street commented on the remarkable Mail on Sunday headline “Top BBC Boss: ‘Clarkson is like Savile’”.

Last Week in the Courts

The Mirror Group phone hacking trial. Various Claimants v MGN Ltd, will continued before Mann J.  The evidence is now finished and closing submissions will be heard on Wednesday and Thursday 18 and 19 March 2015.

On 9 March 2015, Sharp LJ refused permission to appeal in the case of Contostavlos v News Group Newspapers.

On 11 March 2015 Sir David Eady handed down judgment in the case of Lachaux v Independent Print Ltd [2015] EWHC 620 (QB)

On 12 March 2015, the Court of Appeal (Longmore, Ryder and Briggs LJJ) handed down judgment in the case of Levi v Bates [2015] EWCA Civ 206.

On the same day, there was a return date hearing for an ex parte injunction in the cae of Earley v Winnifrith before Dingemans J.  The injunction was discharged.  There is news item on the One Brick Court website.

The two day trial in the case of Barry v Butler did not begin on 12 March 2015.  We understand that the case was settled on 10 March 2015.

Events

29 April 2015 Advertising & Marketing Law Conference, IBC Legal Conferences, London

12 May 2015, IBC’s 22nd Annual Defamation and Privacy Conference, Grange City Hotel, London

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Australia

The great media law event of the week was the trial of the libel claim brought by the Federal Treasurer (that is, Finance Minister), Joe Hockey against Fairfax Media over an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, entitled “Treasurer for Sale”.  The admirable Gazette of Law and Journalism [£] has a daily report.  There were regular  reports in the Sydney Morning Herald. Other reports included the Guardian reporting Mr Hockey’s evidence on Monday.

Canada

The National Post reports that it is appealing the decision in Weaver v Corcoran in relating to defamatory reader postings.  We had a comment on the first intance decision.

The Canadian Privacy Law Blog notes that the Canadian “revenge porn” and lawful access law is now in effect.

Germany

A libel action by the chemical company Bayer against Friends of the Earth Germany over claims that its pesticide Thiacloprid harms bees has been dismissed by a court in Dusseldorf.

Malta

The Times of Malta reports a remarkable libel case, begun 18 years ago, where judgment has been pending for 11 years, having been put off on 33 occasions.

Northern Ireland

The Belfast Telegraph reports a petition calling for reform of the defamation laws in Northern Ireland organised by the Libel Reform Campaign.  The petition has received 700 signatures.  The self selecting sample of those surveyed by the campaign were strongly in favour of reform.

Research and Resources

Next week in the courts

On Monday 16 March 2015 HHJ Parkes QC will hand down judgment in the case of Otuo v Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Britain

On the same day Warby J will hear an application in the case of YXB v TNO.

The Mirror Damages Trial will continue on 18 March 2015 and will conclude on 19 March 2015.

On 18 March 2015, there will be an application in the case of Lachaux v AOL Ltd

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)

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)

YXB v TNO, heard 26 February 2015, (Warby J).

Vidal-Hall v Google Inc heard 8 December 2014 and 2-3 March 2015 (Master of the Rolls, Macfarlane and Sharp LJJ)

Coulson v Wilby heard 6 March 2015 (Warby J).


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