Law and Media Round Up – 23 November 2015

23 11 2015

Weekly Round Up 2The most important judgment of the week was in the case of Weller v Associated Newspapers ([2015] EWCA Civ 1176).  MailOnline lost its appeal against a High Court decision that the publication of seven paparazzi photos of Paul Weller’s children which were published in 2012 under the headline “A family day out: Paul Weller takes wife Hannah and his twin sons out for a spot of shopping in the hot LA sun”.

MailOnline has been refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.  Views on the decision were, predictably, divided.  It was welcomed by privacy campaigners but the Media Blog suggested that the case will go down in history as one of the most fatuous.  

The perjury trial of New Zealand cricket captain Chris Cairns trial has is entering its final stages. Jurors were warned by the judge to be careful when considering the evidence of the admitted fixer Lou Vincent. “In his case you should be particularly cautious that he might have his own interest to serve,” he told the jury.  Orlando Pownall QC closing for the defence argued that the trial has been held together by “rumour upon rumour, sustained by a biased investigation”.

 The case of Andrew Fitch-Holland, the co-accused in the trial, has been reduced to the status of a “sideshow”, according to his QC, Jonathan Laidlaw. Fitch-Holland has been characterised by the prosecution as a “star-struck” individual who had fallen so far under Cairns’ influence that he was willing to risk his career and reputation.

A man who stalked best-selling US author Kristine Carlson has been sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment. Mark Jury, a wedding photographer, embarked upon what the Judge described as “prolonged, determined and frightening conduct over a number of years”.

On 18 November 2015, the Administrative Court gave judgment in the case of HM Attorney-General v Conde Nast ([2015] EWHC 3322 (Admin)). The Court held that GQ magazine had committed a contempt of court by publishing a seriously prejudicial article during the hacking trial. The magazine’s publishers now face a substantial fine.  The judgment revealed that GQ editor Jones said he decided to publish the article while the trial was still in progress after taking advice that it would not breach the Contempt of Court Act.

Hold the Front Page discusses the impact of reporting restrictions six months on, suggesting we have not seen a great deal of these changes after all.

The Stewarts Law blog has a post entitled “Trial by social media: corporate lawyer expelled from partnership following comments that went viral“.

 Information Gathering and Surveillance

The Cyberleagle blog discusses hidden surveillance law interpretations.

The HawkTalk blog discusses unfettered bulk data collection powers and the threat of terrorism.

The Peep Beep! blog discusses the Draft IP Bill and data retention obligations, arguing that the invalidation of the Data Retention Directive has not brought a better future.

 Data Protection and Data Privacy

Eduardo Ustaran,  partner at Hogan Lovells, considers the implications of the CJEU’s recent decision in the Schrems case and outlines a plan for companies previously reliant on Safe Harbor for EU to US transfers.

The Fieldfisher blog discusses the wave of data export conservatism that’s spread across Europe, arguing that any new framework adopted will face significant adoption challenges.

The ICO plans to write to more than 1,000 companies, which it believes are involved in buying and selling people’s names and numbers, as part of its ongoing crackdown on cold callers.

Freedom of Information

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has submitted evidence to Lord Burns’ Independent Commission on Freedom of Information. He has argued that “the current checks and balances” in Freedom of Information legislation are “sufficient” and that introducing FoI flat rate fees would be “disproportionate”. This support for the status quo on FoI will be seen as a boost for the campaign to protect it from being weakened.

The Society of Editors has argued that it opposes what is “clearly an apparent attempt to restrict the Freedom of Information Act”, suggesting that it should be strengthened rather than weakened. They added  “The review should do all it can to turn the default switch for the release of information to ‘on’ rather than ‘off’.

The Panopticon blog discusses Section 35 and 36 of FoIA with regard to public interest. It also discusses whether a request for information made in a tweet is a valid request within the meaning of sections 1 and 8 of FoIA.

A Press Gazette investigation has raised doubts over claims the FOI Act places an unreasonable “burden” on local councils, finding that few councils appear to keep a tally of the cost of answering FoIs, making it hard for them to make a case for the act representing a “burden”.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

There were no statements in open court this week.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

Roy Greenslade examines why the Paris attacks got more coverage than other tragedies here.

He also suggests that The National’s attack on the Daily Mail was misinformed, arguing that the newspaper made a series of mistakes when defending Nicola Sturgeon. The National carried a detailed rebuttal to the claims, which Greenslade discusses here.

Last week in the Courts

On 17 November 2015, Holdroyde J granted summary judgment to the claimant in Cheshire West and Chester Council v Pickthall.  There was a news item about the decision on the 5RB website.

As mentioned above, on 18 November 2015 judgment was given in the case of HM Attorney-General v Conde Nast ([2015] EWHC 3322 (Admin)).  There was a case comment on the 1BC website.

As already, mentioned on 20 November 2015, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in the case of Weller v Associated Newspapers ([2015] EWCA Civ 1176).  The defendant is seeking permission to appeal.  We had a post about the case.  There was a case note on the 1BC website.

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

A Queensland lawyer has lost his bid for $250,000 in damages after he was compared to Dennis Denuto, the solicitor from the Australian movie classic, The Castle.  However, a judge found that the nature of the imputation did lead to the lawyer of 36 years sustaining “some harm” and if he had not dismissed the case, would have awarded him $10,000, given the circumstances.

Belize

The case brought against Ramon “Munchi” Cervantes, Jr., and Fiesta FM by Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Gaspar “Gapi” Vega ended in the Supreme Court after both sides made final oral submissions.

Canada

War correspondent Arthur Kent and Canada’s largest newspaper chain are heading to trial in a prolonged libel suit.  Kent is suing over an article written during his bid for a seat as a Progressive Conservative in the 2008 Alberta election.  The jury was dismissed over prejudicial opening statement. Justice Jo’Anne Strekaf said Arthur’s Kent’s lawyer made inappropriate remarks as the trial began and it would be unfair to continue after what the jurors heard.

Greece

New draft legislation intended to combat the abuse of Greece’s civil defamation law in cases involving journalists is a step in the right direction argues the International Press Institute.

Guyana

Former Minister of Home Affairs Gail Teixeira is defending herself against a GUY$10 million (US$ 49,096) dollar lawsuit filed by her predecessor Ronald Gajraj, following the release of incriminating US diplomatic cable by Wikileaks. Gajra has been implicated in certain practices at the General Register Office (GRO), according to Wikileaks.

Hong Kong

Broadcaster ATV and its former executive director must pay HK$1.3 million for defaming media tycoon Ricky Wong Wai-kay and his television company. Wong claimed Shing accused him of removing confidential financial documents from ATV and using the information to apply for a free-television licence for Wong’s Hong Kong Television Network.

In the case of Pui Kwan Kay v Ming Pao Holdings [2015] HKCA 540 the Court of Appeal allowed the defendant’s appeal in a libel case brought by the vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Football Association after the Court of Appeal ruled the paper made its comments in the public interest.

An article on Conventus LawOne asks the question “One Step Closer To A Right To Be Forgotten In Hong Kong?

Ireland

The judgment in the remarkable defamation case of Christie v. TV3 Television Network Ltd [2015] IEHC 694 is now available.

Malta

The government’s head of communications has been ordered by to pay €2,000 in damages to former PBS Head of News Natalino Fenech. The court ruled that comments made by Mr Fenech had been deceitfully manipulated by Kurt Farrugia in a Labour Party political spot.

Scotland

Over 100 Scottish authors have called for reform of the country’s antiquated defamation laws, arguing that they threaten freedom of speech and could lead to libel tourism.

The writers signed a joint letter organised by Scottish Pen, a freedom of speech organisation. They argue that the country’s defamation laws have not kept up with the growth of the internet. The campaign has been welcomed by the chair of the Scottish Law Commission.

South Korea

A court has dismissed a defamation suit filed by President Park against South Korean politician accused of praising North Korea at talk shows she hosted. The 41-year-old was indicted on charges of making flattering remarks about North Korea, in violation of the South’s National Security Law.

United States

Swimming World magazine is being sued for libel, after questioning whether the Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu uses performance enhancing drugs. The article, written by former Canadian swimmer and Olympic athlete Casey Barrett, asks “Are Katinka Hosszu’s performances being aided? although admits : “There is no proof”.

Research and Resources

Next week in the courts

On Monday 23 November 2015 Costs Judge Master Gordon-Saker will hear the costs case of BNM v Mirror Group

At 2pm on the same day Sir Michael Tugendhat will hand down judgment in the section 9 Defamation Act 2013 case of Ahuja v Politika Novine I Magazini DOO & ors

On Tuesday 24 November 2015 there will be a directions hearing in the case of Lakouhura v Tumula & Longmuir.

On Wednesday 25 November 2015 there will be an application in the case of Decoulos v Axel Springer Schweiz AG & ors.

On 26 November 2015 there will be a trial of a preliminary issue in the case of Business Energy Solutions Ltd & ors v Scrivener with a time estimate of 1.5 days. This will deal with serious financial loss under s.1(2) of the Defamation Act 2013.  An earlier judgment is available at [2015] EWHC 2948 (QB).

On 27 November 2015 there will be an application in the case of Duff v Pope & anr

The trial in the case of Wilkes v Wilshaw which was fixed for 23 November 2015 with a time estimate, 2 days has not been listed.  We would be interested in information as to the case.

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)

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

 

 


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