Law and Media Round Up – 8 June 2015

8 06 2015

Weekly Round Up 2The most high profile case of the week was the acquittal of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson on a perjury charge at the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh.  The judge, Lord Burns, decided (unsurprisingly) that the evidence given by Mr Coulson at the Tommy Sheridan trial was not relevant to the live issues at that trial.

James Doleman, who has been covering the trial with the benefit of crowd funding, had a piece entitled “Why was Andy Coulson acquitted?”.  The decision to prosecute was defended by spokesman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

A prison officer, Robert Norman, who was paid more than £10,000 for stories by the Daily Mirror between April 2006 and May 2011, was jailed for 20 months after confidential emails were released by Trinity Mirror to the Metropolitan Police.

It has been reported that MGN is seeking permission to appeal against the decision of Mann J in Gulati v MGN ([2015] EWHC 1482(Ch)) to award damages in the total sum of £1.2 million to eight victims of phone hacking.  There is a hearing on the 10 and 11 June 2015 (see below).

It is reported that two former officers who were libelled by Merseyside Police have accepted a total of £25,000 in damages.  This was the subject of a statement in open court on 4 June 2015 and there is a Press Release from the officers’ solicitors.

The Supreme’s Court’s recording of the hearing in OPO v Rhodes is now available on the Court’s website.  The first instance judgment of Bean J has also been made available ([2014] EWHC 2468 (QB)).

Data Protection and Data Privacy

The almost final text of the Council’s version of the Data Protection Regulation [pdf] is available.  The timetable between the Parliament, the Commission and the Council points to a conclusion in December 2015.  As the Optanon blog suggests, it appears we are now on the final stretch.

The Optanon blog has a post about the Belgium data protection authority’s investigation of Facebook’s privacy policy and its argument that it has the authority to demand changes to Facebook’s tracking practices in Belgium.

The Panopticon blog draws attention to the fact that the judgment in Ittihadieh v 5-11 Cheyne Gardens ([2015] EWHC 1491 (QB) [pdf]) is now available. The case concerns a subject access request and there is a case comment here.

Datonomy has its Cyber Update for the week commencing 1 June 2015.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

On 4 June 2015, there was a statement in open court in the case of Kelly v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police before Nicol J.

Newspapers, Journalism and regulation

The annual World Trends survey by WAN-IFRA reveals that Global newspaper circulation revenues are larger than newspaper advertising revenues for the first time this century, according to the annual World Press Trends survey.  As Roy Greenslade says, there has been a “seismic shift” in the newspaper industry’s business model.

Roy Greenslade also draws attention to the fact that the circulation of the Mail on Sunday is now greater than that of the Sun on Sunday in a post entitled “Yes, the era of the soaraway Sun is over – all hail the Mail!

The Press Gang blog has an interesting post entitled “Down in the Gutter“, continuing its investigation of Piers Morgan with an account tale of the Daily Mirror’s intrusion into the private life of television newsreader Kirsty Young.

Last Week in the Courts

There was one application last week, on 4 June 2015, in the case of Ali-Harrath v Mollazdeh.  The application for judgment in default was withdrawn and Nicol J made no order as to costs.

Events

1 July 2015: “Bird & Bird’s Annual Data Protection Update” Bird & Bird, 15 Fetter Lane, London

Please let us know if there are any events you would like to be included on this list by email: inforrmeditorial@gmail.com.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Australia

In the case of Harvey v Henzell ([2015] QDC 132) the District Court of Queensland struck out a claim by a litigant in person in respect of comments made to a family report writer.  The judge held that the comments were subject to absolute privilege.

In the case of Bertwistle v Conquest ([2015] QDC 133) the Court entered default judgment, granting an injunction and awarded damages of Aus$100,000 in respect of defamatory text messages alleging sex abuse.

Canada

In the case of Kent v Martin (2015 ABQB 315), Tilleman J ordered disclosure of emails between the defendant journalist and various third parties as relevant to journalistic responsibility, malice and credibility.

China

The fast food chain, KFC has filed libel claims in the Shanghai Xuhui District People’s Court against three companies that allegedly circulated defamatory rumors online about the company, including claims that it rears eight-legged chickens.

Ireland

There has been a row in Ireland concerning an injunction granted to businessman Denis O’Brien preventing the publication of information concerning his banking affairs which was said to prohibit the reporting of a speech in the Dáil. Mr Justice Donald Binchy has now published a redacted judgment [pdf].  The Judge said that the injunction was not intended to block RTÉ, The Irish Times and other media from reporting comments made by Independent TD Catherine Murphy in the Dáil about Mr O’Brien’s financial affairs.  Mr O’Brien was said to be “delighted with the judgment”.

In the light of this row, the Human Rights Ireland blog has a post by Dr Jennifer Kavanagh entitled “Are there limits to absolute privilege?”

Israel

Samuel Wasserman, a resident of the Efrat settlement on the West Bank has sued Shlomo Riskin, the Chief Rabbi of Efrat for libel.  Riskin has served a one million shekel counterclaim.  Wasserman claims that Riskin called him a swindler, Riskin claims that Wasserman conspired with others to entrap him in a libel claim.

Malta

It is reported that the Court of Appeal has upheld a judgement which had found columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia guilty of libel in a case instituted by former MLP President and radio presenter Manuel Cuschieri over a 1999 article.

Russia

It is reported that The Moscow City Court has ordered the Hermitage Capital fund, its co-founder William Browder, law firm Firestone Duncan and its co-founder Jamison Firestone to pay a total of 8 million rubles ($143,000) as libel compensation to former Russian police detective Pavel Karpov, who co-investigated the Sergei Magnitsky case.

Research and Resources

Next week in the courts

There is a two day trial in the case of Ma v St George’s Healthcare Trust beginning before Sir David Eady on 8 June 2015.  HHJ Moloney QC refused to strike out the action on Jameel grounds in a judgment given on 8 May 2015 (wrongly described as outstanding in earlier round ups).

On 9 June 2015 there will a PTR in the case of Starr v Ward.

There will be a hearing on 10 and 11 June 2015 before Mann J in the Mirror phone hacking case of Gulati v MGN to deal with costs, further relief and permission to appeal.

On 11 June 2015 there is an application in the case of Lachaux v Independent Print.

Finally, our attention has been draw to another trial listed for this term, Cosio-Pascal v Feinstein, on 20 July 2015 for 3 to 5 days.

Judgments

The following reserved judgment in media law cases are outstanding:

Pinard-Byrne v Linton, heard 22 April 2015 (Judicial Committee of the Privy Council).

Masters v Palmer, heard 5 May 2015 (HHJ Moloney QC).

Stocker v Stocker, heard 7 May 2015 (Warby J).

Otuo v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, heard 14 May 2015 (HHJ Moloney QC).


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