Law and Media Round Up – 7 December 2015

7 12 2015

Weekly-Roundup1The Editors’ Code of Practice Committee has finally made its “post Leveson” changes to the Code.  The changes have been described as “cosmetic”. The revised code comes three years after a public consultation was held on changing the document.

The code committee’s chairman, the Mail group’s editor-in-chief, Paul Dacre said: “I am convinced these changes strengthen the code and will ensure it remains the universally accepted standard for journalistic practice in the post-Leveson era.” However, Dr Evan Harris of campaign group Hacked Off said: “These changes are not merely cosmetic, they water down the code in a number of important areas.  He wrote an article for Inforrm criticising the changes here. Roy Greenslade summarises the media’s reaction to the changes here.

Chris Cairns has been found not guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice after a nine-week trial at Southwark Crown Court. He says his reputation in cricket has been “scorched”, despite the fact that he has effectively been cleared of any involvement in match-fixing. A recap of the trial is provided here.  It has been reported that Mr Cairns is facing a further legal battle next year, with the former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi said to be launching a £1.5m claim in light of evidence heard during the recently concluded perjury trial.

Former Conservative Minister and MP Tim Yeo is being investigated by police following a defeat in a defamation claim against the Sunday Times.

A schoolboy who was arrested over the TalkTalk cyber attack has won the right to challenge an alleged failure to implement legislation that would protect him from media identification. A judge ruled that the 15-year-old has established an arguable case that the situation breached his right to privacy.

Mattel’s “Hello Barbie,” which allows children to talk with the doll, has suffered at its launch due to serious security issues. The doll would send recorded speech to the cloud, where the audio is analyzed and a response determined, which is sent back to the doll for playback. Bluebox’s analysis, published Friday, shows that this process was vulnerable at several points.

Data Protection and Data Privacy

Graham Smith’s Cybereagle blog examines the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, looking at the categories of data that communications providers could be made to keep.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and Ofcom have published an update on their joint action plan to tackle nuisance calls and texts.

The Panopticon blog examines the recent judgment of Nicholas Lavender QC, in Lebara Mobile Ltd & others v Lycamobile UK Ltd & others. It argues that it provides a glimpse into the part the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) may have to play in major commercial disputes.

The fieldfisher Privacy and Information Law Blog looks at the GDPR, arguing that it may mean that big data analytics and profiling activities are seriously curtailed.

A UK citizen is challenging two police services and the ICO over their failure to respond to his complaints about privacy violations by US tech giants. He hopes to achieve a landmark ruling similar to that obtained by Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems.

Freedom of Information

The Government commission reviewing the Freedom of Information Act has pushed back publication of its reports after receiving more than 30,000 responses. The report is now expected after the 25 January 2016.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

There were no statements in open court this week.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

The Media Reform Coalition are holding a public meeting to discuss questions of media ownership and democracy, as well as present their ‘Media Plurality Draft Bill‘. Their meeting takes place at 5pm on the 7th December.

The Daily Mail has been ordered to take remedial action by IPSO after breaching the Duke of York’s privacy. IPSO received a complaint from Prince Andrew after the newspaper sent a helicopter over the his daughter Princess Eugenie’s 25th birthday preparations. The ruling can be read here.

Roy Greenslade examines the media’s reaction to the Oldham West & Royton by-election, pointing out general negativity and pessimism from The Times and The Mirror, arguing “With friends like this, does Labour need enemies?”.

He also writes on the News of the World, arguing that the scandal surrounding its closure in 2011 has tended  obscured the paper’s social and cultural significance in previous eras. He argues across the 19th century the paper “which in the twentieth century was so much defined by its sensationalism, was the least audacious, most respectable and ‘calmest’ of the early Sundays.”

Peter Preston argues that the hard cases of press self-regulation and royal charters are what matter now as the years since Leveson go by.

Last week in the Courts

On 2 December 2015, Theis J gave judgment in the case of Re V (Out of Hours: Reporting Order) ([2015] EWCOP 83).  The Court of Protection reporting restriction order was extended for 7 days to enable an effective inter partes hearing to take place.

On 3 December 2015, HHJ Parkes QC handed down judgment in the case of GDS Publishing v Hapgood and also gave an ex tempore judgment on the hearing of an application in the case of Umeyor v Ibe.

On 4 December 2015 Dingemans J heard an application in the case of Horan v Express Newspapers.  Judgment was reserved and will be given on 7 December 2015.

Please let us know if there are any other hearings that we should be noting.

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

On 30 November 2015 McCallum J gave judgment in the case of Toben v Nationwide News Pty Ltd; Toben v Mathieson [2015] NSWSC 1784.  She stayed the claim, saying that the plaintiff  had engaged in “a cynical misuse” of the court system in order to air his views. The suit was brought by Dr. Fredrick Toben, who sought damages from The Australian over a 2013 article which described him as a “Holocaust denier.”  Dr Toben had previously been jailed in Germany for Holocaust denial in the late 1990s.

In the case of Chel v Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd (No 2) [2015] NSWCA 379 the Court of Appeal held that the defendants were not entitled to withdraw their election under s 21 of the Defamation Act for the proceedings to be tried by a jury.

In the case of French v Fraser (No 3) [2015] NSWSC 1807 McCallum J assessed defamation damages in the sum of Aus$300,000 in a case in which the defendant had harassed the plaintiff over the internet with defamatory publications for three years.

Canada

The province’s former chief medical examiner has discontinued a lawsuit she filed against former justice minister Jonathan Denis. Dr. Anny Sauvageau sued Denis personally due to statements he made on a local radio station that she claimed were false and defamatory.

A defamation claim launched by a woman seeking compensation from Nova Scotia province for false allegations made by one of its employees has been wrapped up. Laura Doucette was falsely accused of being involved in an armed robbery. Damages are yet to be decided.

There have been further developments in the trial of of a libel claim brought by former television journalist Arthur Kent against Postmedia, reported in Inforrm last week.

A former Progressive Conservative official says the party made enormous efforts to make Kent happy in the 2008 Alberta provincial election campaign, while a newspaper columnist acting as a witness says it was unusual for a candidate to go “rogue” and criticize both his party and leader.

Croatia

The Zagreb municipal court has fined the journalist Drazen Ciglenecki  €20,000 for statements he made about a senior judge in one of his columns. Journalists and members of the public have raised fears that the ruling poses a threat to journalists’ legitimate right to freedom of expression.

India

The Supreme Court has expressed curiosity about the sheer inflow of cases connected to criminal defamation coming from Tamil Nadu. A Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant advised the State to stop taking criticism of governance as a personal insult.

Japan

A Japanese court has thrown out a defamation suit against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by former premier Naoto Kan, who claimed Abe published false accusations relating to Kan’s handling of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Malta

A court has rejected a libel case filed by a waste recovery company against the editor of the General Workers’ Union newspaper l-Orizzont. The newspaper had reported that the company was giving local councils cash grants of €2,000 to incentivise them to use their services and the councils.

A libel accusation regarding a councillor who was exposed on social media as having an adulterous relationship has been dismissed by the courts. The magistrate said that punishing freedom of expression could have a chilling result.

Former Malta Football Association president Joe Mifsud’s libel sitting was stopped after just half hour. Magistrate Francesco Depasquale ordered Dr Mifsud and two lawyers out of the courtroom due to disruptive behaviour and lack of decorum.

Philippines

The Supreme Court has upheld a libel charge filed by Vice President Binay against former Vice Mayor Roberto “Bobby” Brillante.

Poland

Index On Censorship examines the worrying implications of defamation through the criminal code in Poland.

Russia

Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky has won a libel suit against former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who accused him of advancing “extremist slogans”. has awarded Zhirinovsky 6,300 rubles ($93) for the “moral suffering” he endured.

South Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s aunt and her husband have filed a defamation lawsuit in South Korea against three defectors, seeking 60 million won ($51,612) in damages.

The defectors are accused of spreading false information that she had the leader’s half-brother expelled from North Korea and that she had plastic surgery to hide after defecting.

Seoul scholar Park Yu-ha contradicted a sensitive national narrative on Japanese exploitation of Korean women, arguing that many were prostitutes, and not just “sex slaves” commandeered by Japanese soldiers. Now Park faces prosecution for criminal defamation. She is accused of impugning the honor of the surviving comfort women, many of whom she interviewed to reach her conclusions.

United States

A banker who claims he was defamed by the makers of The Wolf of Wall Street has won the right to proceed with a $50m lawsuit against Paramount Pictures. Paramount’s lawyers’ claim that the character is an amalgamation of many people mentioned in the Jordan Belfort book on which the film is based.

Info/Law discusses Sherriff Thomas Dart’s online crusade against prostitution, sex trafficking, and related criminal activity here.

Roland Nachman, a lawyer who opposed The New York Times in a libel case that resulted in a landmark Supreme Court decision establishing greater leeway for government criticism has died.

Research and Resources

Next week in the courts

On 7 December 2015 Dingemans J will give judgment in the case of Horan v Express Newspapers.  The same judge will then begin hearing the trial in the privacy and harassment case of Sobrinho v Impressa Publishing, which is expected to last 4 days.

On the same day HHJ Moloney QC will begin hearing the trial in the case of Theedom v CSP Recruitment.  The case is expected to last 3 days.

Judgments

The following reserved judgment in a media law case is outstanding:

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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