On Wednesday 25 November 2015, Warby J handed down judgment after the first media defamation trial of this legal year, Yeo v Times Newspapers ( EWHC 3375 (QB)). The claim was dismissed. This was a comprehensive and devastating defeat for former Tory MP Tim Yeo whose evidence was described by the judge as “unreliable and untruthful”.
The Press Gazette’s headline summed up the decision in the following terms “Judge sides with Calvert, Blake and Sunday Times as he demolishes ‘dishonest’ Tim Yeo’s libel action”. The Guardian reported the decision under the headline “Tim Yeo loses ‘cash for advocacy’ libel case against the Sunday Times” noting that he now faces a costs bill of over £400,000.
On 24 November 2015, former prison officer Scott Chapman pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office after selling 46 stories to the press for £40,000. His earlier conviction had been quashed by the Court of Appeal and a retrial was due to take place. The plea of guilty was entered after the Judge indicated that the maximum sentence would be two and a half years.
In another Operation Elveden case, a former Broadmoor Hospital worker has been sentenced to 8 months’ imprisonment for selling stories to the Sun. Robert Neave pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office in November 2013. More than 30 public officials have been convicted under Operation Elveden.
Data Protection and Data Privacy
General Data Protection Regulation [First reading]: Presidency debriefing on the outcome of the trilogue – Preparation for trilogue – Chapters I, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X and XI A comparative table which compares in 4 columns the Commission proposal, the position of the European Parliament in 1st reading, the Council’s General Approach and compromises tentatively agreed at previous trilogues as well as compromise suggestions by the Presidency and Presidency debriefing on the outcome of the trilogue – Preparation for trilogue – Chapters I, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X and XI.
Olswang partner Ross McKean is reported as arguing that the mandatory breach notification requirements of the GDPR are likely to have the biggest impact on UK businesses.
Emily Taylor has a piece in the Guardian entitled, “Five strategies for reclaiming our personal privacy online”
Freedom of Information
That the Independent Commission on FOI has received 30,000 responses to their consultation and will invited some parties to provide oral evidence on 20 and 25 January 2016.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court this week.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
The Media Blog has a post dealing with the correction by the Times of a reporting distorting the findings of a Survation poll on Muslim attitudes to fights in Syria. Roy Greenslade also has a post on the subject. The Hacked Off blog has a post about the Sun’s “Lying Headline”.
Last week in the Courts
On 23 and 24 November 2015 Costs Judge Master Gordon-Saker heard the costs case of BNM v Mirror Group. Judgment was reserved.
On 23 November 2015, Sir Michael Tugendhat handed down judgment in the section 9 Defamation Act 2013 case of Ahuja v Politika Novine I Magazini DOO & ors  EWHC 3380 (QB). The order for service of proceedings out of the jurisdiction was set aside by the judge.
On Tuesday 24 November 2015 there was a directions hearing in the case of Lakova v Tymula & Longmuir before Nicola Davies J. The case is now fixed for trial on 14 and 15 December 2015.
As already mentioned, on Wednesday 25 November 2015 Warby J handed down judgment in the case of Yeo v Times Newspapers  EWHC 3375 (QB).
On the same day there was an application in the case of Decoulos v Axel Springer Schweiz AG & ors heard by HHJ Forster QC.
The trial of the preliminary issue in the case of Business Energy Solutions Ltd & ors v Scrivener due to take place before Dingemans J on 26 November 2015 did not take place as the claim was discontinued by the claimant. The defendant’s Skeleton Argument dealing with the legal principles under section 1(2) of the Defamation Act 2013 can be found here [pdf].
On 27 November 2015 Haddon-Cave J handed down judgment following the trial of preliminary issues in the case of Rahman v ARY Network Ltd  EWHC 2917 (QB) (heard 1, 2 and 6 July 2015). He found that the words complained of bore defamatory meanings and made factual allegations
On the same day there was an application in the case of Duff v Pope & anr before HHJ Parkes QC. Judgment was reserved.
There was also a Norwich Pharmacal application in the case of Braben v Google Inc before HHJ Parkes QC.
The defendants have now lodged applications for permission to appeal in the three cases tried as Lachaux v Independent Print (the EWCA Case tracker details are here, here and here). The Grounds of Appeal lodged by the Independent and the Evening Standard are here [pdf]
On 1 December 2015, Jo Brand will give the third annual Hacked Off “Leveson Lecture” at at 7pm in Logan Hall at the Insitute of Education in 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
On 17 November 2015, in the case of Trkulja v Google ( VSC 635) McDonald J dismissed an application by Google to set aside the service out of the jurisdiction, concluding that
The submissions advanced on behalf of Google fall well short of establishing that Mr Trkulja has no real prospect of establishing at trial that Google is a publisher and/or that any of the material about which he complains is defamatory. Google’s invitation to the Court to confer an immunity out of thin air is rejected. The application to set aside service of the writ and amended statement of claim is dismissed 
In Giani v Queensland Television ( QDC 286) the District Court struck out part of the defence of contextual truth and a plea in mitigation.
The Guardian reports that the New South Wales clubs lobby has dropped its defamation claim against independent MP Andrew Wilkie who is an advocate of great regulation of the poker machine industry. The action concerned claims made by Mr Wilkie concerning allegations of bribery.
On 13 November 2015, Graeme Mew J made an order for indemnity costs in the sum of Can $1,614,000 in favour of the successful defendant in the case of Chandra v CBC 2015 ONSC 6519. Judgment had been entered in favour of the defendant after a 56 day jury trial, the jury having found that the defamatory allegations were justified and there was no invasion of privacy.
On 24 November 2015 Adair J gave judgment after a trial in the case of Casses v CBC and others 2015 BCSC 2150. He found that the words complained of did not refer to Casses Inc and although Dr Casses was defamed the CBC defendants were entitled to succeed in their defence of responsible communication. Dr Casses’ claims in four other actions were dismissed
There have been a number of reports of the trial of a libel claim brought by former television journalist Arthur Kent against Postmedia. Mr Kent, nicknamed the “Scud Stud” after reporting on the Gulf War, said that the article had torpedoed his campaign for public office. He later told the court that the 2008 article at the centre of the case was “like a boomerang”. A forensic computer expert later told the court that the article was readily accessible online for years after it was published. The trial continues.
The Canadian Privacy Law blog reports that the RCMP is again calling for warrantless access to online information – commenting that, once again, it is wrong to do so.
The Times of India reports that lawyers representing Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday turned down an offer in the Supreme Court to express regret and give a “decent burial” to the criminal defamation proceedings for allegedly commenting that the RSS was behind the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
Reuters reports that a Japanese court has dismissed a defamation claim by Universal Entertainment Corporation against it over articles published in 2012 relating to $40 million in payments Universal made to a consultant in relation to a casino project in the Philippines. The Court held that the articles were in the public interest and the allegation could be accepted as true.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that Ian Paisley jr has settled a libel claim brought by Sinn Fein MEP Martina Andreson over comments made in a radio interview. He agreed to make a payment to charity and to pay Ms Anderson’s costs. According to the Irish News these costs will be paid by an insurance policy funded by the public purse.
Research and Resources
- MsLods Law+Tech news round up, 28 November 2015
- “Expectations of Privacy Abroad”, Paul Greatorex, Panopticon Blog – a note about the Weller case
- Defamation and the Government Employee: Redefining Who Constitutes a Public Official Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Vol. 47, No. 1, 2015, Jeffrey Omar Usman, Belmont University, College of Law.
- The Data Protection Impact Assessment, or: How the General Data Protection Regulation May Still Come to Foster Ethically Responsible Data Processing Claudia Quelle,Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)
- Survey of the Law of Cyberspace: Introduction Business Lawyer, Vol. 69, 2013
Jonathan Rubens and Edward A. Morse, Cyberspace Law Committee and Creighton University – School of Law.
- Personal Data Processing for Behavioural Targeting: Which Legal Basis?, Frederik J. Zuiderveen Borgesius, University of Amsterdam – IViR Institute for Information Law (IViR)
Next week in the courts
On 4 December 2015 there will an application in the case of Horan v Express Newspapers.
Please let us know if there are any other hearings that we should be noting.
The following reserved judgments in media law cases are outstanding:
Gulati v MGN, heard 20 and 21 October 2015 (Arden, Rafferty and Kitchin LJJ)
Duff v Pope & anr heard 27 November 2015 (HHJ Parkes QC).