Law and Media Round Up – 20 June 2016

20 06 2016

weekly-roundupThe press was united in horror this week, reacting to the news that Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered outside a constituency surgery. The news was on the front page of every paper the following day, with many publications leading with the statement from her husband: “Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day”.

Although coverage of Jo Cox and her achievements was universally respectful, some have raised questions regarding the way in which the alleged perpetrator was discussed. As outlined by Roy Greenslade, many papers refrained from considering the political leanings of the alleged perpetrator. Mair was described as “a troubled loner” with “a history of mental health problems” by The Mail and The Sun respectively.  In contrast, the same papers described Omar Mateen, the man responsible for the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, as “an Islamic extremist … pledged to Islamic State”.

For many, the murder also raised questions about the increasingly toxic political culture in the UK. Polly Toynbee argued that the attack cannot be viewed in isolation, occurring as it did against a backdrop of increasing contempt for politicians and anti-migrant sentiment.

Alex Massie shared a similar sentiment in The Spectator, arguing that the toxic rhetoric perpetuated by some on the Brexit debate can be directly linked to this tragic and shameful event.

Martin Kettle argued in the Guardian that the referendum is “the press’s revenge for Leveson” suggesting that a vote to leave would demonstrate that power in this country continues to lie with a few powerful newspapers.

The House of Commons has voted against forcing the Government to hold part two of the Leveson inquiry. The investigation was due to look at phone-hacking at the News of the World (and elsewhere), as well as examining flaws in the original police investigation.

Labour shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said: “It has been put to me that that promise was made face to face with some of the victims of hacking and press intrusion—people such as the McCanns and Milly Dowler’s family.

“It seems to Labour members as though the Government have subtly shifted their position in the intervening years.”

Victims and alleged victims of forced marriage will now be given lifelong anonymity, the Government has said. The measure, being introduced through an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill which was tabled on 7 May, is intended to encourage victims to come forward and increase prosecutions for the crime.

The Information Law and Policy Centre at IALS discusses the potential impact of Brexit on the EU’s communication industries here.

Social Media

The Media Blog discusses an unwise tweet from the Milton Keynes law firm Baker Small. The tweet outraged the parents of children with special educational needs whose cases it had contested on behalf of local authorities.

Facebook has announced that it will begin to track non users. It is planning to significantly expand its online ad network and will use cookies, “like” buttons, and other plug-ins embedded on third-party sites to track members and non-members alike.

Roy Greenslade argues that Facebook poses an existential threat to newspapers, suggesting that the study showing that more than 50% of all web users treat social media as a news provider will not surprise too many people.

An Israeli court has approved a class-action suit against Facebook for violating the privacy of their users. They have ruled that a clause in Facebook’s terms of use requiring all suits to be heard in California courts is invalid. This is expected to spark other, similar suits.

Data Protection and Data Privacy

What would Brexit mean for data protection? The Dentons Privacy and Cybersecurity law blog discusses the question here.

A house in Greater Manchester has been raided by the ICO as part of an investigation into illegal trading of personal data. It is hoped the raid on the Stretford property might help gather evidence about the links in the chain of illegal personal data trading.

The case  of Verein für Konsumenteninformation  v. Amazon EU Sàrl (Case C-191/15) concerns the concept of establishment under the Data Protection Directive.. The background to the case is discussed here. On 2 June 2016, the Advocate General’s opinion was pubished on 2 June 2016 and suggested a narrow approach to the “establishment test”.  The case is discussed on the fieldfisher Privacy, Security and Information Law blog.

The French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) has launched a public consultation on EU General Data Protection Regulation. The Hunton & Williams blog discusses this here.

The US government has asked to be joined as a party in the Irish Court Case between the privacy activist Max Schrems and Facebook. In a press release, Schrems called this “an unusual move”, and believes that the US government has made this move because it wanted to defend its surveillance laws before the European Courts.  Digital Rights Ireland and a US-based civil liberties group have made similar applications.

Jimmy Wales, the Wikipedia co-founder, has argued that an attempt by France to give an online privacy ruling global force is opening up a “disastrous can of worms” and could spur global censorship. The comments come after Google appealed last month against an order from the French data protection authority to remove certain web search results globally.

Surveillance and Information Gathering

MPs discussed and voted on the Investigatory Powers Bill last week in the report stage of the Bill’s progression through Parliament, the third vote before the Bill was sent to the House of Lords. The Open Rights Group discusses this here.

Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has warned that editors will “betray future generations of journalists” if they don’t fight the so-called snooper’s charter. Rusbridger told the IBC legal conference in London: “It is the biggest threat to the press at the moment.”

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

We are not aware of any statements in open court last week.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

David Cameron has said he would be willing to meet with victims of press abuse, after being asked by Jeremy Corbyn during Prime Minister’s Questions. Hacked Off welcomed the meeting, describing it as “overdue”.

The 81 newspaper and magazine publishers regulated by IPSO have published their second set of annual statements, in accordance with IPSO membership. The reports detail the steps that the titles are taking to comply with the Editors’ Code and how they have addressed problems highlighted by adjudications which have gone against them. Roy Greenslade comments on the submissions here, pointing out the humorous nature of some of the submissions.

Sir Alan Moses, Chairman of press regulator IPSO, has described Sun editor Tony Gallagher as a “lousy advocate”. He also criticised The Guardian, arguing that the publication shows an “almost unimaginable piety” for refusing to join IPSO.

The UK’s most-read national newspaper titles have shown a strong tendency towards favouring Brexit, Press Gazette analysis has demonstrated. When those daily totals were added up we found 46 per cent of front page coverage favoured one side of the argument, with 36 per cent favouring Leave versus 10 per cent which was judged to favour Remain.

Last week in the Courts

On Monday 13 June 2016, the trial in Economou v De Freitas began before Warby J.  The trial continued all week and is expected to conclude this week.

On the same day the trial in Ghuman & anr v Ghuman, began before Dingemans J. The trial also continued all week and is expected to conclude this week.

On Wednesday 15 June 2016 there was an application in the case of Cohen v Akhnaten before HHJ Moloney QC who granted relief from sanctions, giving an ex tempore judgment.  The trial was adjourned to a later date.

On the same day Warby J handed down judgment in the case of Theedom v Nourish Training [2016] EWHC 1364 (QB).  He held that the defence of truth was made out and the claim was, therefore, dismissed.

Events

5 September 2016, “Conference5RB“, at at IET Savoy Place, Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL, and will deal with current issues in defamation, privacy, Data Protection, harassment, reporting restrictions and contempt issues.

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

Canada

Canada is undergoing a surveillance crisis, argues Michael Geist. He argues that it is time for the country to reshape how its securities agencies operate.

Czech Republic

The Czech Defamation Law blog outlines the key threats to freedom of speech in 2016 here.

France

The defamation lawsuit brought by Hubert de Boüard of Chateau Angélus against the author of Vino Business was held in the Tribunal de Grand Instance in Paris last week. It is discussed in Decanter here.

Ireland

A County Monaghan man has been ordered to pay €75,000 in damages after posting a defamatory item on Facebook about the national director of Ireland’s game shooting body. Judge John O’Hagan said his order should “teach people posting messages on the social media site to be very careful”.

A Judge has held that the three defamation actions of a Vet must be consolidated into one and heard together. Dr Harry Sweeney and the stud farm he runs in Japan have initiated three actions separately suing University of Limerick and two students. The case arises from how the university arranged for removal of the students from their equine studies placement.

A former employee at Coolmore Stud has been refused injunctions preventing the stud’s lawyers from writing to distributors to claim that his book contains defamatory material.

Malta

A court has dismissed a libel suit filed by former GRTU director-general Vince Farrugia. The suit revolved around an opinion piece which claimed the GRTU had taken a “free ride” on the Malta Developers Association’s lobbying in the run-up to that year’s Budget.

Nationalist MP Toni Bezzina has lost two libel cases he filed against two newspapers in 2012. The cases surround allegations that he had forced workers to carry out works at a club during working hours. Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has said he will await the outcome of an appeal to be lodged by MP Toni Bezzina.

Alfred Mifsud, deputy governor of the Central Bank, has denied allegations of corruption and money laundering made against him in a blog. Ms Caruana Galizia alleged that Mr Mifsud received cash totalling thousands of Maltese liri from a businessman.

Nationalist MP Claudio Grech has vowed to file a libel suit against Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and the Labour Party newspaper Kulhadd. This follows claims that he tried to silence a whistleblower.

New Zealand

Labour leader Andrew Little has been served with defamation papers by Scenic Hotel Group founders Earl and Lani Hagaman. The papers were served after Little refused to retract and apologise for comments made about Mr Hagaman.

Blogger Cameron Slater and PR consultant Carrick Graham are facing a defamation claim from three top health professionals. The proceedings are related to blog posts and comments published on the Whale Oil website, which they allege were a long running campaign against them.

Nigeria

The factional leader of the Odua People’s Congress Gani Adams has been ordered to pay N100 million in damages in a libel suit filed against him. Founder and leader of OPC, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, accused Adams of defaming and libelling him in the News Magazine.

Northern Ireland

The MLA who got taxpayers to fund legal bills after he libelled a journalist has been revealed by the News Letter as David McNarry. In January, the Assembly refused a Freedom of Information request, saying that details of the case were “clearly expected to remain confidential”.

United States

Leonardo DiCaprio, has been ordered to give testimony in a $15 million defamation lawsuit brought on by a former New York executive over 2013 film, The Wolf of Wall Street. Andrew Greene, who was an executive at Stratton Oakmont, a brokerage that defrauded many shareholders, claims that his depiction in Wolf of Wall Street damaged his reputation.

A Court has overturned  a US$1.8 million award to Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura.  Ventura claimed he was defamed by the late author Chris Kyle in the book American Sniper.  The  Court of Appeals held that there was a misdirection and ordered a retrial.

The Data Privacy Alert blog discusses whether the Fourth Amendment applies to emails here.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

The trials in Economou v De Freitas and Ghuman v Ghuman will continue before Warby J and Dingemans J respectively.

On 20 June 2016 the trial in TLT and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department will begin before Mitting J.

In Northern Ireland there is an application in the defamation case of EC v Sunday Newspapers Limited.  There is also an application for an injunction in the case of M v BC, RS and Facebook Ireland Ltd.

On the same day there will be a statement in open court in the case of Ali-Khan v Galloway.

On 23 June 2016 there will be an application in the case of Callaghan v Express Newspapers.

The libel trial in the case of Begg v BBC will now take place on 27 June 2016, with a time estimate of 5 to 6 days.  The trial in Callaghan v Express Newspapers will take place on 12 July 2016, with an estimate of 3 days.

Judgments

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).

This week’s round up was compiled by Tessa Evans who is a researcher and journalist.

 


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