On 10 June 2016 it was announced that another 21 phone hacking claims against Mirror Group’ had settled. The settlements, which involved the payment of undisclosed damages and costs and an apology, were announced at a hearing before Mr Justice Mann.
Those who settled include TV presenter Davina McCall and actors Rhys Ifans and Nigel Havers. A statement read out on Havers’ behalf described how evidence had shown that Mirror journalists intercepted his voicemails for stories about his grief as he nursed his dying wife. In each case MGN’s barrister, relayed the company’s “sincere apologies” and acknowledgement that the “information should never have been obtained in the manner it was”.
The story has been covered in The Guardian and the BBC, as well as iMediaEthics, but is notably absent from other major publications. A number of statements in open court can be found on the Atkins Thomson website (see below).
In other news, the government has strengthened judicial oversight of state surveillance as the Investigatory Powers Bill went through its final stages in the House of Commons.
The Sunday People is facing a £100,000 payout after using information from an apparently stolen mobile phone. They were aiming to expose an affair between a primary school teacher and a footballer.
The Schillings website has a post entitled “The Shockumentary”, by Hind Habib discussing the implications of the recent decision in Heythrop Zoological Gardens Ltd (t/a Amazing Animals) v Captive Animals Protection Society,
The David Banks Media Law blog discusses the “seven deadly sins” of court reporting here.
Social media has created several complications with regard to the U.S. discovery process in litigation. The Norton Rose Fulbright blog discusses these here, suggesting we may have to wait for the law to catch up with technology.
Roy Greenslade discusses social media endorsements for news sites, arguing that these endorsements will not convert into profit in the long term.
Data Protection and Data Privacy
The controversial Investigatory Powers Bill is now in its Parliamentary Report stage; HawkTalk discusses this here, arguing that the government has so far ignored the data protection recommendations of the draft IP Bill Committee.
The ICO has raided a house in Sheffield as part of an investigation into illegal trading of personal data. The investigation has suggested that those living at the address could be selling data lists to marketing companies to be used in making nuisance calls.
The ICO has also published further information relating to their decision notice on an application to obtain the records of “Mohammed Emwazi” from the University of Westminster, describing the rationale for their decision in more detail.
The Panopticon blog discusses employment law and data protection, demonstrating that the DPA can sometimes be used as a weapon of attack by employers against former employees.
Surveillance and Information Gathering
The Joint Committee has issued a report on the Investigatory Power Bill, in order to aid the bill’s hasty progress through Parliament. Professor Lorna Woods discusses the report here.
Privacy International have released an article on ECHR jurisdiction and mass surveillance, scrutinising the UK Investigatory Power Tribunal’s recent ruling.
A group of House of Representative members are preparing to introduce measures that would reign in NSA domestic surveillance and protect encryption. But a change in procedure adopted by the House leadership may deny the House a chance to vote on this proposal.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were a number of statements in open court in the Mirror Phone hacking litigation including in the cases of Claire Dobbs v NGN, Holly Davidson v NGN, Tina Hobley v MGN and Caroline Chikezie v MGN.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
The Press Recognition Panel has closed the second “call for evidence” over the decision over whether to award recognition to the IMPRESS regulator. During the first call for evidence, the News Media Association made was extremely critical of IMPRESS’ application. Hacked Off has dismissed the criticism as being born out of “commercial self-interest.”
The UK’s PR industry is worth £12.9bn and employs 83,000 people, according to the PR Census 2016. This employment finding confirms claims that there are now far more PRs than journalists working in Britain.
Last week in the Courts
On 9 June 2016 there was a PTR in the case of Begg v BBC before Jay J. The judge gave an ex tempore judgment. The trial is now listed for 27 June 2016 with a time estimate of 5 to 6 days.
The renewed application for permission to appeal against the preliminary issue costs order in Theedom v Nourish Training which was listed for 17 June 2016 has been adjourned.
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Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Monaco-based oil services company Unaoil is preparing to sue Fairfax Media for injurious falsehood and damages that could reach “many millions of dollars” to compensate the company in lost revenue.
Former television war correspondent Arthur Kent has succeeded in winning an eight-year-old lawsuit against Postmedia, one of Canada’s largest media companies. The lawsuit revolved around column that called him “Dud Scud”, which a judge ruled was defamatory. Kent was awarded $200,00 in damages.
A former research scientist, Dr. Ranjit Chandra, has lost another court battle in his attempt to sue the CBC, and Newfoundland and Labrador reporter. Chandra filed his first suit over a decade ago, after a series entitled The Secret Life of Dr. Chandra exposed flaws in his nutrition studies of infant formula and multivitamins.
The Hoot has published a review of Sue the Messenger by Subir Ghosh, which looks at SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation) lawsuits in India.
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Subramanian Swamy v. Union of India is discussed here. Law student Vrinda Vinayak argues it is an insult to free speech.
Rami Sadan, the new Channel 10 executive who allegedly made racist comments about Mizrahi Jews yesterday has issued a denial, saying he is considering a defamation suit.
Nationalist MP Claudio Grech has said he will file a libel suit against Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and the Labour Party newspaper Kulhadd after being accused of silencing a whistleblower. Grech said in a statement that he had no other option but to take legal action.
Malta Today argues that recent judgments have reasserted the case for a reform of the country’s libel laws, arguing that they are too often abused for the purposes of placing limitations on the public’s right to information.
Lionel Messi has been awarded €65,000 after winning a libel case that dated back to 2014. The lawsuit hinged around a story that criticised Messi’s play and referred to hormone treatments he received as a child. Messi has donated the money awarded to charity.
Gawker Media has filed for bankruptcy after losing the Hulk Hogan invasion-of-privacy case. It has been argued that this is an attempt to avoid a potentially crippling $140 million jury verdict. Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, sued the company in 2012 for posting a tape showing him having sex with a friend’s wife.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has remanded a challenge to age verification provisions relating to the production of sexually explicit conduct with instructions that the district court should apply strict scrutiny in its First Amendment analysis.
A jury in Hampton Circuit Court has found in favour of a former police officer who was accused of slander. Christopher L. Munger was accused of defaming James R. Crotts, a former police lieutenant who once led day-to-day operations of an undercover cigarette trafficking operation.
A California appeals has unplugged a $1 million lawsuit brought by Paul Brodeur, a former staff writer at The New Yorker, over a scene in the 2013 film, American Hustle. Brodeur claimed that the film damaged his reputation by attributing him to be the source of scare-mongering about the dangers of microwaves. A California appeals court justice has concluded the complaint is unlikely to be successful and must be stricken as an impingement of producers’ First Amendment rights.
Donald Trump has criticised U.S libel laws, suggesting that if he were President he would open up the laws and make lawsuits easier. The Salt Lake Tribune argues that this is a legitimate point.
Research and Resources
- Data portability among online platforms, Barbara Engels, Internet Policy Review.
- Defamation on Social Media: An Adoption of Single Publication Rule, Manjeet Sahu, National University of Study and Research in Law (NUSRL).
- The Reform of the EU Data Protection Framework: Outlining Key Changes and Assessing Their Fitness for a Data-Driven Economy, Mira Burri and Rahel Schär, University of Bern Law School – World Trade Institute and Independent
- Data Protection as a Central Issue of ECJ Policies: From Digital Rights Ireland to Data Protection Commissioner (Ireland), European Papers, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2016, Vincenzo Zeno-Zencovich, University of Rome III – Department of Law.
- Does Big Data Change the Privacy Landscape? A Review of the Issues Annual Review of Statistics and Its Application, Vol. 3, Issue 1, pp. 161-180, 2016, Sallie Ann Keller , Stephanie Shipp and Aaron Schroeder, Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech.
- Hate Propaganda and International Human Rights Law, Forging Peace: Intervention, Human Rights and the Management of Media Space, Chapter 2, 2002, Stephanie Farrior, Vermont Law School
Next Week in the Courts
On Monday 13 June 2016, the trial in Economou v De Freitas will begin before Warby J. It is listed for 6-10 days
On the same day the trial in Ghuman & anr v Ghuman, will begin before Dingemans J. It is listed 3-4 days.
On 15 June 2016 there will be an application in the case of Cohen v Akhnaten.
The following reserved judgments in media law cases are outstanding:
CG v Facebook Ireland Limited, heard 4 and 5 April 2016 (Morgan LCJ, Gillen and Weatherup LJJ)(Northern Ireland Court of Appeal)
Simpson v Mirror Group Newspapers, heard, 24 May 2016 (Laws, King and Lindblom LJJ).
Theedom v Nourish Training, heard 23 to 26 May 2016 (Warby J).
This week’s round up was compiled by Tessa Evans who is a researcher and journalist.