Law and Media Round Up – 12 October 2015

12 10 2015

Weekly Round Up 2The former News of the World News Editor Greg Miskiw has been speaking to Graham Johnson. Among other things he confessed to hacking David Beckham’s phone and apologised for not halting the Milly Dowler phone hacking.   He also gave an interview on Channel 4.  Mr Miskiw pleaded guilty to phone hacking in October 2013.

There are two interesting media related criminal trials before the courts at present.  First, there is the trial of Sun journalists Chris Pharo and Jamie Pyatt at the Old Bailey. Journalist Martin Hickman has been covering the trial, supported by crowdfunding, on the Byline website.  These are his posts last week:

Then there is the trial for perjury of former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns arising out of his successful libel action against Indian businessman Lalit Modi.  The background to the trial is set out here.  Cricinfo has reports of the trial here and here.  Former New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent will give evidence next week.

In other news , a prison officer who sold stories about the mother of the murdered child known as Baby P has been jailed. Joseph de Souza was paid £950 for information that led to four stories in the Daily Mirror. He has been jailed for 12 weeks.

A High Court judge has praised a Press Association journalist for “responsible journalism of a very high order” after he raised issues connected with anonymity in judgments and publications bans. Journalist Brian Farmer pointed out that an anonymised judgment published by Mr Justice MacDonald contained enough information to allow the family involved to be identified.

John Bryan, who once dated Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, has launched a legal action against News Corporation in the United States. Bryan alleges that an undercover News Corp journalist tried to entrap him into obtaining drugs and prostitutes 20 years ago. He is seeking $50m in damages for libel and invasion of privacy.

Nude photos of Justin Bieber were not an invasion of privacy, according to the photo agency responsible. Bieber was photographed while on holiday in Bora Bora, walking from the inside of a bungalow to the decking outside. Speaking to The Independent, a spokesman said: “There’s no invasion of privacy” and would not comment on whether a long-lens was used to get the photos. The pictures were published exclusively on New York Daily News and also leaked on Twitter.

Data Protection and Data Privacy

The “Safe Harbour” decision in Schrems is perhaps the most important data protection decision of the year by the CJEU.  We had posts on the decision from Lorna Woods and Diana Dimitrova. The ICO issued a statement about the decision.

We draw attention to the following posts about the decision:

  • Hawktalk shared their useful guide to understanding Safe Harbor, Schrems v Facebook in less than 300 words.
  • The CJEU ruling on Safe Harbor is a landmark victory for privacy rights, argues the Open Rights Group.
  • The Panopticon Blog considers some practical implications of the decision and argues that Data Protection is now the “glittering star” of the European legal firmament.
  • Peep Beep! examines the validity of the US-EU safe harbour framework.
  • Optanon Privacy Matters suggests there are going to be some changes in the background to make sure that information keeps flowing.
  • Dentons’ Privacy and Data Security Law blog share their thoughts on the ruling.
  • Fieldfisher shares their Safe Harbor obituary and argues that ‘Europe now holds the key to the future of privacy’.
  • Privacy Europe suggests the decision has severe consequences for US companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo, who will need to think about new ways to secure data transfers.
  • Privacy International argues Safe Harbor was as “clear as mud” and placed privacy rights globally at risk.
  • Paul Bernal argues that surveillance by the US authorities was the “Elephant in the room” with regard to the Commission’s decision.

We also draw attention to some posts on other data protection issues.  The Panopticon blog examines increasing scepticism in Tribunals in FOIA cases in a post entitled ‘Is it Getting Chilly in Here?’.

A new consultation document from the Commission to review FOIA confirms that sweeping restrictions to FOI being considered, report the Campaign for Freedom of Information. One hundred and forty media bodies, campaign groups and others have written to the Prime Minister expressing ‘serious concern’ at the government’s approach to the Freedom of Information Act.

Meanwhile, the Commission  has issued a call for evidence.  There is a post about this on the Panopticon Blog.

Why there is an FOI Commission and no PR Commission? The Foiman blog has discovered – as a result of a FOI request – that central government spends more than £150m a year on public relations, as opposed to £5.7m on FOI requests.  Why is FOI being singled out?

In a landmark victory for Digital Privacy, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act into Law. The bill updates the state’s privacy laws for the digital age by protecting Californians against warrantless surveillance of their digital information.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

On 8 October 2015 there was a statement in open court in the case of Power Places Tours & ors v Free Spirit & anr before Warby J.

Newspapers, Journalism and regulation

The Mail group has committed more Editors’ Code breaches than any other group, the Press Gazette has reported. The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has published the details of 221 rulings since it replaced the Press Complaints Commission in September 2014.

Of these, the Mail titles – Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Mail Online and Scottish Daily Mail –  have been the subject of the most IPSO adjudications, 24, with four upheld and one upheld in part.

However, the Telegraph is now the individual title with the worst record for upheld complaints, after IPSO ruled that it breached the Editors’ Code by inaccurately reporting an allegation of anti-semitism made against Jeremy Corbyn on its front page. The article reported that shadow Northern Ireland secretary Ivan Lewis had accused Corbyn of being an anti-semite and attacked his “anti-Semitic rhetoric”. Lewis said the Telegraph had misrepresented his views.

IPSO has rejected an accuracy claim by Michael Jackson’s nephew, over a story headlined “Jacko’s £134m hush money”. The story reported that two men allegedly abused as children by the late singer were attempting to bring new civil cases and that Jackson had paid “up to £134m” to silence his alleged victims. While Taj Jackson complained to IPSO that the story was inaccurate, IPSO said the Mirror was entitled to report the claims, provided that they were clearly presented as such.

IPSO has rejected a privacy complaint over a Mail on Sunday article reporting that Nigel Farage had been questioned by police. A complaint was made on behalf of Farage relating to the 21 June story headlined “Police quiz Farage over claims ‘ex-lover’ falsely accused Tory MP of sexually assaulting her”. IPSO said the newspaper “saw no reason why the fact of the interview should not be reported” and said the “fact that Mr Farage had been interviewed by police was not in itself private information”.

The competitive, private-sector British newspaper industry cannot forgive the BBC its generous public funding, with several editors seeing the review of BBC funding as an opportunity to put the boot in, argues the British Journalism Review.

Last week in the Courts

On Monday 5 October 2015, Warby J heard an application in the contempt case of OPO v MLA and gave an ex tempore judgment dealing with certain costs issues.  

On 6 October 2015, the CJEU handed down judgment in the important data protection case of Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner.

On 8 October 2015 Sir Michael Tugendhat heard an appeal from the Master in the case of Bates v Leeds United FC .  Judgment was reserved.

Events

27 October 2015, “Prevent duty for universities now in force” One-day event will discuss implications of Counter-Terrorism & Security Act 2015, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of 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

France

Actress Julie Gayet has won privacy damages after two french magazines published photos taken with a long-lens of her and partner Francois Hollande. The fieldfisher blog argues that such a case would make for a fascinating judgment if brought in the UK.

Hong Kong

Development Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po and his wife Frieda Hui Po-ming face a HK$7 million (US$903,220) legal bill after a defamation case against them. In September last year, the High Court found the Chans guilty of defaming two schoolmates of their children, claiming that they cheated at school.

Kenya

Libel claims involving public figures are on the rise in Kenya, with public figures turning to lawyers rather than press conferences in order to rebut accusations.

Malaysia

The High Court will declare the amount of damages to be paid by Newspaper Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on October 19th, it has been announced. The damages relate to a defamation suit won two years ago, after two articles falsely reported  comments made by Ibrahim on homosexuality law.

Malta

Norman Lowell, the leader of the far-right Imperium Europa, has lost a libel case against the editor of Malta Today and two journalists. Lowell filed the suit in 2006 after three articles alleged that he was involved in an arson attack on the house of columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

New Zealand

A long-running defamation case in New Zealand’s High Court has resulted in Accounting body CPA Australia being ordered to pay $NZ124,058 ($175,000) of Chartered Accountants ANZ’s court costs. CPA sought $50,000 in damages from a legal claim that the NZICA “overstepped the appropriate boundaries of rivalry” in its statements between 2011 and 2013. CPA will end up paying more than three times the $50,000 it originally sought in damages once its own court costs are taken into account

United States

A defamation lawsuit brought against Bill Cosby can move forward, a federal judge in Massachusetts has ruled. The suit was brought by three women who say he sexually abused them and claim that Cosby’s representatives damaged their reputations by denying their allegations in disparaging language. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni rejected Cosby’s bid to dismiss the case before it goes to a jury.

A judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by a New York Yankees fan shown sleeping on camera at a 2014 game. Judge Julia Rodriguez dismissed the suit by Andrew Robert Rector, who had claimed ESPN announcers disparaged him, saying he was “oblivious”. Rodriguez said none of the commentators’ statements could be considered false, which is a necessary element of a defamation action.

Zimbabwe

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal against the High Court decision to award a musician $10 000 in defamation damages. Musician Tererai Mugwadi sued for defamation after it was reported in 2011 that friends wanted her “checked into a rehabilitation centre”. In its appeal, Zimpapers want the $10,000 damages reduced to $2000.

Research and Resources

Next week in the courts.

On Monday 12 October 2015 the Privy Council will hand down judgment in the case of Pinard-Byrne v Linton, (heard 22 April 2015)

On the same day two libel trials will begin.

First, the trial in Yeo v Times Newspapers Ltd (time estimate, 7 days) will begin before Warby J.  We had a case preview yesterday.

Second, the trial in Umeyor v Nwakamma (time estimate 3 days) will begin before Jay J.

On the same say the hearing of the appeal in the “Incedal” case (An Appeal under s.159 Criminal Justice Act 1988) will resume before the Lord Chief Justice, Hallett and Sharp LJJ.  The Law Society Gazette had a piece about the earlier hearing.

Judgments

The following reserved judgments in media law cases are outstanding:

Rahman v ARY Network Ltd, heard 1, 2 and 6 July 2015 (Haddon-Cave J).

Bates v Leeds United FC, heard 8 October 2015 (Sir Michael Tugendhat)


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