Law and Media Round Up – 16 November 2015

16 11 2015

weekly-round-up-140x80The CPS will not be prosecuting former DCS Dave Cook after an IPCC investigation into Misconduct in Public Office. Byline has a comment on the issue, examining the way in which News International, through its Management and Standards Committee, shopped over a hundred sources and journalists to the Met Police in order to to avoid corporate charges in the US under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Byline also examines how the News of the World tried to derail the final fifth investigation of the murder of Daniel Morgan, and how intimidation of the murder inquiry team continues to this day.

A former prison officer has been found guilty of leaking stories about celebrity inmates to the Daily Mirror over six years. Grant Pizzey  made almost £20,000 from the tabloid for tips about “notorious” prisoners including Great Train robber Ronnie Biggs, preacher Abu Hamza and serial killers Steve Wright and Levi Bellfield. He also passed on information to journalist Greig Box Turnbull about life at the high security jail which resulted in stories about Easter eggs, a laptop for a terror suspect and higher prices in the prison canteen.

The perjury trial of the former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns will be prolonged further after it was delayed by legal argument. The trial at London’s Southwark crown court was initially set to last four weeks but is already into its sixth week and looks likely to go on for at least  one more.

Cairns faces a charge of perjury after a 2012 libel trial in which he stated that he “never, ever cheated at cricket”. Cairns is being compared to disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong after bringing shame on the cricket world. Summing up the prosecution case against him, Sasha Wass, QC, said that the evidence he was involved in match-fixing was “overwhelming”.

As data protection claims increase in importance we have set up a new section on the right hand side of the home page – links to various EU Data Protection authorities.  Many of these have sites in English

Information Gathering and Surveillance

The Hawktalk blog examines unfettered bulk data collection powers and mass surveillance, arguing that national security agencies need to embrace the Data Protection Principles and various types of safeguards.

Paul Bernal’s blog defends critiques of the Investigatory Powers Bill and extensive surveillance plans or laws in general, arguing that we need exactly that ‘mature debate’ that Andrew Parker of MI5 has asked for over surveillance.

Privacy International argues that it is essential that the Investigatory Powers Bill doesn’t let politicians decide who is spied on, arguing that we must resist giving any government the power to to put every one of us under suspicionless surveillance.

Data Protection and Data Privacy

The Belgian Court has told Facebook to stop tracking non-members. Currently, Facebook can even follow the behaviour of non-members on websites that have a Facebook button. The Court deems the processing of data and tracking the browsing behaviour of non-members a “manifest” violation of Belgian privacy law.

The personalised postcard company Touchnote has reported it has become the latest UK online service to have lost the personal information of millions of individuals due to an attack on its systems. Optanon suggests they seem to be doing a poor job in notifying all the individuals who have had their information compromised.

The Information Commissioner’s blog examines the dangers of hidden data, examining the information leak by Islington Council, after they published the details of over 2000 local residents and faced a £70,000 fine.

The Panopticon blog discusses whether the CJEU judgment rides rough shod over free speech rights, arguing that what we see with the new Regulation is a continued failure on the part of European legislators to accommodate free speech rights within the data protection regime in a systematic way.

The Panopticon blog examines the European Commission’s response to Schrems.

The fieldfisher Privacy and Information Law Blog discusses the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the controversies arising around consent. The controversy arises from the proposed requirements for consent and reforms to the legitimate interests’ grounds.

In late October, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice (the “Ministry”) issued its revised Draft Bill for the Protection of Personal Data. Hunton & Williams discusses this here.

Russia has changed its stance on Twitter, and has ordered the website  to comply with data localization laws, saying that it must begin storing the details of Russian users at facilities located within the country.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

There were no statements in open court this week.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

Newspapers in western Europe became only fleetingly more sympathetic towards migrants and refugees after the publication of photographs of the body of Alan (aka Aylan) Kurdi on a Turkish beach. But within a week of the pictures having been published most of the papers had reverted to their original editorial stance, argues Roy Greenslade.

Greenslade also engages in an analysis of two differing crops of headlines looking at the arrest of a former soldier by police investigating 14 murders in Derry in 1972.

Last week in the Courts

On 9 November 2015, HHJ Stephen Davies handed down judgment in the case of Oyston v Ragozzino [2015] EWHC 3232 (QB)The owners of Blackpool Football Club were awarded £20,000 in damages after they were defamed by a fan on a website.  Owen and Karl Oyston sued supporter David Ragozzino over posts on a message board, which included “lurid allegations of a sexual nature” and allegations of “fraudulent and corrupt behaviour”. A McKenzie friend has been accused of pouring ‘fuel on the flames’ during the case.

On 11 November 2015, Sir Michael Tugendhat handed down judgment in the appeals of Bates v Weston; and Leeds United Football v Weston [2015] EWHC 3070 (QB).  The appeals were allowed and the action was dismissed.

Events

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

The trial in libel claim brought by journalist Natalie O’Brien against ABC before McCallum J in the Supreme Court of New South Wales has concluded.  The claim concerns a piece on Mediawatch criticising an article written by the plaintiff.  There are reports of the trial on the Gazette of Law and Journalism [£].

A police officer who shot  teenage Tyler Cassidy is suing a lawyer over a website that said he “executed” the boy and should be charged with manslaughter.  A coroner in 2011 exonerated the officers after finding Sergeant Dods had been in “perilous danger” when Tyler advanced on him.

Canada

Ontario has passed a law targeting bogus defamation lawsuits. Techdirt discusses this “anti-SLAPP” law here.

The Canadian Privacy Law blog has released a presentation on the use of drones in journalism and media, presented at the Canadian Media Lawyers Association.

Dominica

The Prime Minister has instructed his lawyers to institute legal proceedings “promptly” against the Opposition Leader. The proceedings relate to the publication of a letter that sought to link him with an investigation involving the former president of the United Nations.

Ireland

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has commenced a defamation claim against the Sunday World newspaper over an article alleging that he met Kevin McGuigan before he was murdered last August.

Malta

A magistrate threw out a libel suit filed against l-orizzont over a 2012 article terming a €2,000 cash grant offered to local councils as “bait”. The article referred to a waste collection scheme rolled out where cash grants was offered to local councils to encourage their participation.

MP George Pullicino has won a libel case after filing an appeal against an original decision. A 2008 article in the newspaper It-Torca linking Pullicino to corruption was found to be libellous.

The Labour administration is considering far-reaching reforms in the field of civil defamation, with new laws allowing injured parties to seek redress through mediation instead of court action.

Nigeria

A Benin High Court ruled in favour of Punch Nigeria Limited, in a N20 billion libel suit. The court awarded N10, 000 costs in favour of Punch newspapers over an alleged libelous publication in two stories published in 2010.

USA

A University of Virginia fraternity is suing Rolling Stone for libel over its 2014 story “A Rape on Campus.” The article told the now-discredited story of student Jackie’s alleged gang rape by the fraternity’s members.

An arbitration panel has ordered J.P. Morgan Securities to pay $350,000 in compensatory damages to a former advisor who claimed she was wrongfully terminated and defamed in September 2013.

A U.S. appeals court upheld the dismissal of federal claims and revived two state law claims accusing Google of invading computer users’ privacy by enabling the placement of “cookies” in browsers to track Internet use. The decision of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, In Re Google Inc, Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation [pdf] was handed down on 10 November 2015.

Blogger Fashion Pullis has been sued for libel, after a statement saying that stylist Liz Uy did a disservice to Maine Mendoza for allowing her to wear a recycled gown. Asksonnie discusses the case here.

Research and Resources

Next week in the courts

We are not aware of any other relevant hearings this week.  Please let us know whether there is anything we have missed.

Judgments

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)

Gulati v MGN, heard 20 and 21 October 2015 (Arden, Rafferty and Kitchin LJJ)

Weller v Associated Newspapers, heard 27 and 28 October 2015 (The Master of the Rolls, Tomlinson and Bean LJJ)

Ahuja v Politika. Heard 5 and 6 November 2015 (Sir Michael Tugendhat)

This Round Up was compiled by Tessa Evans, a journalist and researcher. She tweets @tessadevans


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