Law and Media Round Up – 14 March 2016 [Updated]

14 03 2016

weeklynews1The controversial Independent Press Standards Organisation (“IPSO”) has become involved in a row between the Sun and Buckingham Palace over (an implausible) front page claim that the “Queen backs Brexit“.  Buckingham Palace has written to IPSO complaining of a violation of clause 1 of the Editors’ Code.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said:

“We can confirm that we have this morning written to the chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation to register a complaint about the front page story in today’s Sun newspaper..

While The Sun will protect the story’s source, media rivals are hunting to expose them. The Telegraph, The Times and The Daily Mail are all pointing fingers at Michael Gove, while Whitehall sources have also been suspected. The complaint will pose a challenge for Ipso chairman, Sir Alan Moses, argues Roy Greenslade, adding that the Sun seems confident in the story. We had an Inforrm post on the subject of whether the Queen is likely to obtain satisfaction from IPSO.

In other news, Ministers have been urged to reassess the law giving anonymity for people making allegations about sexual offences. The calls come amid controversy over the handling of claims of a paedophile ring in Westminster. Labour’s Lord Campbell-Savours said the law has allowed a man to use a “wall of anonymity” and make allegations against public figures without evidence.

The David Banks blog discusses the campaign to grant legal anonymity for victims of so-called ‘revenge porn’, arguing that anonymity would end up protecting offenders as well as victims.

Data Protection and Data Privacy

The LSE’s Media Policy Project Blog looks at whether dynamic IP addresses fall within the scope of European Data Protection legislation.  This is relevant due to the identifiability of users based on the processing of IP addresses.

The Peep Beep blog discusses the data protection risks involved with information collected from geo-location technologies. It discusses two guidelines published by European regulators regarding the processing of geolocation data.

The Privacy and Information Law Blog has another instalment in its “Getting to know the GCPR series”, “Part 10 – Enforcement under the GDPR – what happens if you get it wrong?

Hunton & Williams’ have released a management guide on the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) addressing the impacts of the law on businesses. The guide focuses on topics such as expanded territorial scope, data breach notification rules, the One-Stop Shop concept and the right to be forgotten.

Surveillance and Information Gathering

The UK sets a bad example to the rest of the world with its proposed changes to the law on surveillance, the United Nations special rapporteur on privacy has said. Rapporteur Joseph Cannataci said the British government has failed to recognise the consequences of legitimising bulk data collection or mass surveillance.

The National Union of Journalists has urged its members to write to their MPs before the second reading of the Investigatory Powers Bill. They argue that the bill does not provide adequate safeguards for journalists and their sources from state surveillance. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “In the UK, journalists have been spied on, their phone records secretly pored over and their communications seized”

The Information Law and Policy Centre has issued an update on their contribution to the Investigatory Powers Debate. This can be read here.

Challenges to surveillance laws are growing throughout Europe. The Internet Policy Review journal outlines them here.

The Public Privacy blog discusses the FBI’s attempt to access  the information stored on the Smartphone of one of the San Bernardino shooting suspects and the debates it has opened up here.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

There were no Statements in Open Court last week.  There is, finally, one listed for next week, 74 days from the beginning of term. Mr Benjamin Pell has pointed out to us that this is a new record – the previous longest period between the beginning of term and the first Statement in Open Court being 47 days (in 2006).  The last Statements in Open Court in libel cases were on 4 November 2015.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

A group of news publishers have launched a bid to stop press regulator Impress getting official approval from the Press Recognition Panel.

Members of the News Media Association argue that Impress fails the central test, of independence, because it is almost entirely funded the press reform campaigner Max Mosley. The NMA’s submission can be read here.

According to the NMA, Impress “cannot be described as independent, credible or effective” and  “it would be irrational for the PRP to recognise Impress as a regulator.

The Media Blog examines the story of a  ‘giant rat’ found in East London. It shows that despite press enthusiasm, the rat ‘as big as a four-year-old boy’ was likely an exaggeration and the result of an obvious forced perspective photo.

The falling number of journalists attending court means that many serious stories are not being reported, according to Guy Toyn, the director of Court News UK.

He told Vice News that local newspapers are not sending journalists to cover court hearings which is “a tragedy for the democratic process as a whole”.

Last week in the Courts

The damages only trial in the case of White v Express Newspapers began before Mitting J on 7 March 2016 but was settled on 8 March 2016 with the defendant agreeing to pay a “substantial” sum in damages.

Snooker player Jimmy White launched the claim after a Daily Star Sunday story suggesting he was cheating. The article, headlined “Jimmy’s aide in betting probe”,  implied that the player had provided inside information to his friend in order to  place winning bets. Mr White was praised as a “sportsman of the highest integrity” by Mitting J.

[Update] On 9 March 2016, Sir David Eady handed down judgment in the case of Monks v National Westminster Bank plc [2016] EWHC 492 (QB).  He refused to strike out a claim for defamation, malicious falsehood and breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998 in respect of reports made to credit reference agencies.

Events

16 March 2016 Seminar: Openness in Britain 2016 – Where are we now?, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Information Law & Policy Centre.

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

Dr Lisa Pryor, an author and journalist,  has settled her defamation case against The Australian Financial Review and former Labor leader Mark Latham. The case revolved around a column by Latham entitled “Why left feminists don’t like kids”. Her legal team argued that the column implied that “the plaintiff, a mother, does not love her children”.

A Barrister who has taken legal action after being named the prime suspect in the murder of his wife has been a victim of a recent attempted assault, the court has heard. Lloyd Rayney was found not guilty of the murder in 2012. The case is currently the longest running defamation case before the courts.

The JournLaw blog provides a useful case study for understanding the basic elements of defamation, after an innocent 86 year old tailor had his identity confused with that of his allegedly criminal son. The case is centred upon an article in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph  with the heading “Tailor’s alter ego as a gunrunner”.

Canada

Telecommunications provider Northwestel has dropped its defamation lawsuit against a Whitehorse company and its owner. The suit stemmed from comments the owner made criticising Northewestel’s internet service on CBC radio.

The Privacy Commissioner has announced that Canada’s Privacy Act needs an “overhaul”. The Act has not undergone any substantive change in three decades and needs to protect citizens’ personal information in the wake of of advancements in technology, it was argued.

Innovations, Science and Economic Development Canada has issued a consultation paper asking Canadians what should be included in new data breach regulations.  The Canadian Government will then publish draft regulations for public comment and further consultation.

Canadian Defamation Law is Noncompliant with International Law, argues Denis Rancourt for Dissident Voice. He argues that Canada should develop a written and comprehensive defamation law that recognizes both freedom of expression as a fundamental human right.

India

The Hoot discusses the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khaled and Anirban Bhattacharya of Jawaharlal Nehru University, looking at the role of television news channels in recent controversies.

Ireland

A woman who was accused of planning to ‘do a runner’ after filling up at a petrol station has been awarded €7,500 in damages for defamation of character. Judge Groarke said the Texaco supervisor had “defamed Ms Kavanagh in circumstances for which there was no defence available”.

Northern Ireland

Businessman Frank Cushnahan is launching defamation proceedings against the BBC and others. The claims relate to Cushnahan’s alleged involvement in the £1bn sale of assets to Cerberus. The claim relates to a Spotlight programme last month in which Cushnahan was filmed referring to a finder’s fee he was due over the sale of the Nama portfolio in Northern Ireland.

Turkey

Press freedom in Turkey is “under siege”, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The CPJ has released a letter to Turkey’s Prime Minister protesting the government’s takeover of the Feza Gazetecilik media company.

United States

A Los Angeles businessman has been rewarded one of the largest Internet defamation awards ever. Bradley Cohen has been awarded $38 million after being accused of running a Bernard Madoff-type Ponzi scheme.

David D’Amato is suing the makers of documentary “Tickled,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, for defamation for the way it portrays him in the film about “endurance tickling.”

The legal battle between Hulk Hogan, former WWE wrestler, and the media company Gawker has begun. The civil lawsuit revolves around a video released by Gawker in 2012. It shows the wrestler appearing to have sex with a woman called Heather Clem, who at the time was married to Hogan’s best friend, DJ Bubba “the Love Sponge” Clem.

Hogan, who was fired by the WWE last year for a racist outburst caught on tape, is asking for $100m in damages for defamation, emotional pain and loss of privacy.

Gawker’s defence refers to the legal standard in invasion-of-privacy cases that says publications may report on private facts about public figures as long as they are a matter of “public concern”.

Mike Foley, a University of Florida journalism professor, is expected to be cross examined when proceedings resume.

Potential jurors in the trial have refused to watch the tape, saying that doing so would go against “their relationship with Jesus Christ”.

Venezuela

A judge today sentenced David Natera Febres, the editor of a newspaper that investigated corruption at a state-run mining company, to four years in prison for criminal defamation. The CPJ described the sentencing as a clear attack on press freedom.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On Monday 14 March 2016, there will be a Statement in Open Court in the case of  Lisle-Mainwaring v Associated Newspapers Ltd, before Nicol J.

On 16 and 17 March 2016, there will be a two day hearing in Decoulos v Axel Springer Schweiz AG & ors

The damages assessment in the cases of Kevin Barron MP v Caven Vines and Kevin Barron MP v Jane Collins MEP will be heard on 16 May 2016 and has been listed foro three days.  There was a news item about the case in the Rotherham Advertiser.

Judgments

The following reserved judgments in media law cases are outstanding:

Monks v National Westminster Bank plc heard 28 and 29 January 2016 (Sir David Eady).

Axon v Ministry of Defence, heard 1, 2 and 4 March 2016 (Nicol J)

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

 


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