Law and Media Round Up – 29 June 2015

29 06 2015

Media and Law RoundupThe trial of former News of the World Deputy Editor Neil Wallis continued at the Old Bailey this week.  On Monday the defendant spent his fourth day in the witness box.  Tuesday and Wednesday were taken up with closing speeches.  The judge summed up on Thursday and the jury then retired to consider their verdict.

Martin Hickman continued to produce his regular (crowdfunded) reports on Byline:  Monday Wallis Feared Goodman Would Make “Wild Allegations” Tuesday, Top police officer backs News of the World Man;  Hacking Prosecution Defendant was a “company man”; Wednesday Jury “cannot be sure” Wallis is guilty; Thursday and Friday Neil Wallis Trial: Jury Out;  The jury’s deliberations will continue today.

The Press Gazette has a piece by Dominic Ponsford entitled “A year on from the hacking trial verdict has Rupert Murdoch avoided predicted police questioning?”  The answer to the question appears to be that it is not clear whether he has or not.

The Independent has reported that former News of World inhouse lawyer, Tom Crone, is being investigated by the Bar Standards Board.

The Blackpool Gazette reports that business man Jeremy Smith is being sued for libel by Owen and Karly Oyston, the owners of Blackpool FC over his part in a fan’s protest at the club’s ground last year.  A number of other fans have reached out of court settlements and apologised to the club and the Oystons over alleged defamatory comments made about them.

Data Protection and Data Privacy

As the discussions concerning the Data Protection Regulation enter their final phase two interesting documents have been obtained by Statewatch:

The Guardian has an article about Google’s recent decision to delist “revenge porn” suggesting that this opens the door on right to be forgotten in the United States.

The Privacy and Information Law Blog has a piece by Phil Lee entitled “Privacy Audits – asking less can get you more”.

The Datonomy Blog has a Cyber Update for the week commencing 22 June 2015.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

There were no statements in open court last week.

Newspapers, Journalism and regulation

The IPCC rejected a complaint about the harassment warning letter issued to Croydon Advertiser report Gareth Davies. The Press Gazette has launched a petition urging the Metropolitan Police to cancel the warning.  David Banks has a piece on his blog entitled “Police Harassment Warnings – Reporters Beware”.

Roy Greenslade has a post about two IPSO complaints decisions entitled “IPSO upholds two complaints, but treats each newspaper differently”.

There is an article by Mark Pearson The Conversation entitled “How surveillance is wrecking journalist-source confidentiality”.

Last Week in the Courts

The trial in Starr v Ward continued last week, concluding on 24 June 2015 after eight days.  Nicol J reserved judgment.

The case of Decker v Hopcraft has now settled and there was no application on 23 June 2015.

On 24 June 2015, Mann J handed down a judgment on costs in the Mirror phone hacking litigation, Gulati v MGN ([2015] EWHC 1805 (Ch)).  The judge refused to make indemnity costs orders in favour of Sadie Frost and Robert Ashworth.  Although the defendant’s conduct was unattractive in some respects it had not reached the level of unreasonableness required to attract indemnity costs.

On 25 June 2015 Andrews J heard an application in the case of Rio Tinto v Vale.

On 26 June 2015, Sir David Eady gave judgment in the case of Otuo v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Britain ([2015] EWHC 1839 (QB)).  

On the same day he gave judgment on the sentencing of the defendant for contempt of court in the case of QRS v Beach.

Events

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

13 July 2015, “800 years after the Magna Carta, do we have a Free Press?”, London Press Club.

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

On Tuesday 30 June 2015, Justice Richard White will hand down judgment in the high profile case of Hockey v Fairfax Media.  There is a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

In the case of Cavric v Nationwide News Pty Ltd ([2015] NSWDC 107) Gibson DCJ held that the various imputations arising from two publications entitled “Trolley Lady Loses $285k Compo Crash” and “Woman hit by a shopping trolley loses her bid for compensation as judge rules she exaggerated her injuries” were capable of being conveyed by the articles.  She gave leave to replead two imputations and struck out two others.

In the case of Rothe v Scott ([2015] NSWDC 105) the same judge struck out the defence of justification in a Facebook libel case involving an imputation of paedophilia.

Canada

In the case of Douez v Facebook (2015 BCCA 279) the Court of Appeal for British Columbia held that a forum selection clause in Facebook’s terms and conditions should be enforced and, as a result, the proceedings in Canada should be stayed.  The plaintiff was at liberty to bring a claim in the courts of Santa Clara, California.   Michael Geist has a post about this decision entitled B.C. Court of Appeal Rules Facebook’s Fine Print Trumps Privacy Law.

The Law of Privacy in Canada Blog has a further post on the amendments to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act which were passed by the House of Commons recently.

Ireland

There are two libel actions presently proceeding in the High Court in Dublin.

First, Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley and a High Court jury of six men and six women are hearing a libel case brought by Richard Burke, a former Catholic Archbishop, against RTÉ.  The case concerns a 2011 brought which, it is alleged, means that Mr Burke sexually assaulted a 13 year old girl in Nigeria and had sex with her when she was 14.  There are reports in the Irish Times and on the RTÉ news website.

Second, Mr Justice John Hedigan and a jury are hearing the case of Speedie v Sunday World.  The plaintiff is a former Premier League footballer who alleges that articles published in 2011 alleged that he was engaged in criminal activity, was involved in drug trafficking and had links to gangland crime. There were reports in the Irish Independent on 24 June and 25 June 2015 and in the Irish Times on 25 June and 26 June 2015.

Morocco

A Casablanca court has award defamation damages of 5 million dirhams (€460,000) against a news website, Goud, in respect of an allegation of corruption against the King’s private secretary.  The decision was condemned by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Nigeria

It is reported that a Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square has dismissed a N750m libel suit filed by the Chairman, Board of Copyright Society of Nigeria, Chief Tony Okoroji, against a popular Nigerian musician, Mrs. Onyeka Onwenu.

United States

A jury is considering the merits of a $850 million libel claim in the case of Bouveng v Wey. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant used his power as owner of the New York Global Group to coerce her into sexual encounters and then launched a smear campaign on the internet.  There is an Associated Press report.

Research and Resources

Next week in the courts

On 29 June 2015 Nicol J will hand down judgment in the case of Lachaux v Independent Print and Ors.

On the same day Kenneth Parker J will hear applications in the case of Decoulos v Axel Springer Schweiz AG and Andrews J will hand down judgment in Rio Tinto v Vale SA.

On 30 June 2015 judgment will be handed down by Sir David Eady in the cases of Ma v St George’s Healthcare Trust, (heard 8-10 June 2015).

On 1 July 2015 there will be a meaning application in the case of Rahman v ARY Network Ltd.

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).

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

Starr v Ward, heard 15-19 and 22 to 24 June 2015 (Nicol J)


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