The Society of Editors Annual Conference took place in London on 18 to 20 October 2015. The Society of Editors Lecture [pdf] was given by Alan Rusbridger. As the Press Gazette reported, he condemned the daily monstering of the BBC in the press and called for a debate over payment to sources.
The Keynote speech [pdf] by Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale MP. Mr Whittingdale said that heI
“would like to see the press bring themselves within the Royal Charter’s scheme of recognition. What is key is that we should have a regulator that is tough, independent, fully subscribed and that commands confidence”.
This was welcomed by Impress, the only press regulator intending to seek recognition.
The other notable feature of Mr Whittingdale’s speech was his statement that he was not convinced that the time was right for the bringing into force of the costs provisions of section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. This was, unsurprisingly, welcomed by the press, the Telegraph for example reporting it under the headline “Leveson law shelved amid fears over threat to journalism”. The Press Gazette suggested that the industry was breathing a sigh of relief” but Hacked Off described a failure to bring these provisions into force as “an insult to victims of press abuse” and a breach of promises made by the Prime Minister.
The trial of former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns for perjury continues. This week evidence was given, by among others, New Zealand cricketers, Lou Vincent and Brendon McCullum. The trial was covered by the Cricinfo website
- Vincent ex-wife testifies against Cairns
- Ponting tells court about Cairns’ ‘business proposition’
- McCullum to rest, Southee set to lead in tour game
- Ponting voices opposition to day-night Tests
- McCullum did not mention ‘match-fixing’ to ACSU
- Cairns left me ‘shocked and angry’ – Vettori
Data Protection and Data Privacy
A petition, which urges the Government to move away from a bid to limit the Freedom of Information Act, has been launched by Press Gazette. The petition describes the move to introduce fees for FoI requests as a “tax on journalism” that could hinder investigations.
This has been launched as part of the Hands Off FoI campaign. More than 600 editors, reporters and members of the public have so far signed the petition.
The German legislator has passed the highly disputed new German Data Retention Act (“GDRA”), which puts extensive storage obligations on telecommunications providers. Datonomy discusses the act here.
This week the Court of Appeal is examining how you value an invasion of privacy and determine compensation. Panopticon discusses the issue here.
Is it time for US businesses to consider an anti-surveillance pledge? The fieldfisher Privacy and Information Law Blog considers the question here.
The Optanon blog provides an update on Safe Harbour here.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court last week.
Newspapers, Journalism and Regulation
The Wiltshire Times has had to pulp thousands of copies of last week’s edition after accidentally publishing an alleged rape victim’s unobscured picture. The woman had given an interview to the Times, while retaining her right to lifetime anonymity after being told the CPS was not going to charge her attacker.
The Press Gazette provides a profile of Graham Johnson, the former Sunday Mirror reporter who turned himself in for phone hacking.
Last week in the Courts
The trial in Yeo v Times Newspapers continued on 19 and 20 October 2015. Judgment was reserved.
As already mentioned, the appeal in Gulati v MGN was heard by the Court of Appeal on 20 and 21 October 2015. Judgment was reserved.
On 21 October 2015, there was an application for permission to appeal and costs in the case of Lachaux v Independent Print before Warby J. [Update]
Judgment was reserved. The Claimant was awarded 80% of his costs of the preliminary issue and the application for permission to appeal was refused.
Two recent libel judgments were posted on Bailii.
First the judgment of Warby J, from 8 October 2015 from the PTR in Business Energy Solutions Ltd v BES Commercial Energy Ltd ( EWHC 2948 (QB)).
Second, the judgment of Jay J dated 16 October 2015 in the case of Umeyor v Nwakamma ( EWHC 2980 (QB)). The claimant was successful in this libel trial but was awarded damages of only £2,000.
There was a judgment in the Queen’s Bench Division in Northern Ireland in the case of KL and NN v Sunday Newspapers Ltd ( NIQB 88), dealing with the procedure for issuing proceedings anonymously.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
In the case of Fairfax Media v Zeccola ( NSCA 329), the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal against a decision of McCallum J striking out certain imputations.
In the case of DHR International v Challis  NSWSC 1567 the Court refused to grant an interlocutory injunction against a blogger to restrain him from publishing injurious falsehoods.
A former executive at Macquarie Bank has won a defamation case against journalist Kate McClymont over claims made in her book.
Freelance journalist Laura Robinson has lost her defamation lawsuit against former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong. Robinson had accused Furlong of defaming her in public statements in 2012. She has said she will not appeal the ruling.
While the internet may be global, the courts are not. Monica Goyal discusses the implications of libel jurisdictions here.
In the case of Allen v. Dennis P.A. Nimchuk Inc., 2015 BCSC 1800 the court refused to strike out a defamation claim against a dentist by a former patient.
A €900,000 damages award against the Sunday World has been overturned by The Court of Appeal. The award was made following a 2008 High Court jury finding that Martin McDonagh was libelled in an article describing him as a “Traveller drug king.” The jury’s decision in the original case was described as “perverse”.
Israel’s definition of defamation of character is unusual and causes issues for international visitors. Tzvi Szanjnbrum discusses the implications here.
The Malta Information Technology Law Association has endorsed a statement suggesting that criminal libel should be abolished from Maltese law. In a statement, MITLA said it endorses these calls especially due to the multiplying effect that the Internet creates with online information.
An attorney for the estate of “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle has asked a federal appeals court to overturn a defamation judgement. Lee Levine told 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges they should overturn the The $1.8 million judgment because the judge improperly allowed the jury to hear that the publisher’s insurance would cover their verdict.
Research and Resources
- Who Should Be Liable for Online Anonymous Defamation?, University of Chicago Law Review Dialogue, Vol. 82, pp. 162-176, 2015, Ronen Perry and Tal Zarsky , University of Haifa – Faculty of Law and University of Haifa – Faculty of Law
- Amplifying Abuse: The Fusion of Cyberharassment and Discrimination , Boston University Law Review Online Symposium, 2015. Ari Ezra Waldman, New York Law School
- The Way to Luxemburg: National Court Decisions on the Compatibility of the Data Retention Directive with the Rights to Privacy and Data Protection. Eleni Kosta, Tilburg University – Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)
- New Data Security Requirements and the Proceduralization of Mass Surveillance Law after the European Data Retention Case. Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2015-41, Institute for Information Law Research Paper No. 2015-03, Frederik J. Zuiderveen Borgesius and Axel Arnbak, University of Amsterdam – Institute for Information Law (IViR) and University of Amsterdam – Institute for Information Law (IViR)
- Retaining the Data Retention Directive, Eleni Kosta and Peggy Valcke, Tilburg University – Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT) and KU Leuven – Faculty of Law
Next week in the courts
On 26 October 2015, Warby J will hear the appeals in the cases of Richardson v Facebook and Richardson v Google UK Ltd.
On 27 October 2015, the Court of Appeal (The Master of the Rolls, Tomlinson and Vos LJJ) will hear the appeal in the case of Weller v Associated Newspapers. We had a case preview yesterday.
On the same day there will be an application in the case of Bukovsky v CPS. The background to the case can be found here.
On the same day there will also be application in the case of Lachaux v Lachaux.
On 28 October 2015, there will be an application in the case of Brand v Berki (which is listed for trial on 30 November 2015).
The following reserved judgment in media law cases are outstanding:
Rahman v ARY Network Ltd, heard 1, 2 and 6 July 2015 (Haddon-Cave J).
Yeo v Times Newspapers. heard 12-16 and 19-20 October 2015 (Warby J)
Lachaux v Independent Print, heard 21 October 2015 (Warby J)
Gulati v MGN, heard 20 and 21 October 2015 (Arden, Rafferty and Kitchin LJJ)
This Round Up was compiled by Tessa Evans, a journalist and researcher. She tweets @tessadevans