The inauguration of President Donald J Trump on 20 January 2017 was the biggest media story in the world this week. The 45th President’s activities over the next 4 years are likely to provide some interesting media law stories.
The White House Press secretary, in the first press conference of the Trump presidency, challenged the media account of the numbers present at the inauguration. He presented a false account of the numbers but was defended by Kellyanne Conway as offering “alternative facts”, giving rise to an interesting exchange on NBC.
President Trump disapproves of US libel law but cannot do much about it. Blog Law Online looks at the potential ways that the president can ‘thwart’ the press.
Meanwhile, a former contestant on the reality show “The Apprentice” filed a defamation claim against President-elect Donald Trump over his response to her allegations that he groped her during a job interview in 2007.
Roy Greenslade in the Guardian looked at how the UK press reacted to Trump’s inauguration, and, how they registered concern at the protectionist and isolationist stance that he has outlined. He also looked at how Trump is viewed in European newspapers, drawing from an analysis by the European Journalism Observatory of the content of three daily newspapers in each of 10 European countries from 12 to 18 January.
The biggest legal story of this coming week will be the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – the Article 50 “Brexit” judgment. If, as has been predicted by many commentators, the appeal is dismissed then there may be renewed media attacks on the judiciary.
The Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal has dismissed professional misconduct allegations against former News of the World solicitor, Julian Pike arising out of surveillance conducted on claimant solicitors in 2010. The judgment of the Tribunal can be found here [pdf].
It is reported that the News Media Association is seeking permission for a judicial review of Impress’ recognition by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP). It is claimed that the PRP made ‘fundamental legal errors’ in recognising the regulator.
A decision on whether to enact Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act is set to be delayed until the conclusion of a judicial review legal challenge. Two victims of phone-hacking and the website Byline brought the challenge in December against the Government consultation on whether to enact Section 40 and hold part two of the Leveson Inquiry, into phone-hacking and the relationship between police and the press.
A judge has barred journalists from naming four people mounting a fresh High Court Brexit challenge in reports on the case. But judge Cranston J gave media organisations permission to challenge his order after a reporter raised concerns about the principle of open justice being undermined.
Cobb J has ordered that details of personal or financial information aired in proceeding relating to financial remedy between former footballer Ryan Giggs and his ex-wife.
A former Somerset headteacher has won a defamation claim against a former member of her staff who made comments about her online.
A Welsh blogger faces losing her family home over non-payment of legal fees and damages in excess of £220,000 after losing a libel case three years ago.
The Regional Court of Hamburg recently applied for the first time the new decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) regarding the liability for hyperlinks and further increased the risks and responsibilities for social media website operators.
Facebook users will soon be able to flag news stories as fake and the social network site may subsequently label the stories as “disputed” in a test of fake news filtering tools starting soon in Germany.
Jenny Afia in the Schillings blog argues that social media terms and conditions are failing our children.
Data Protection and Data Privacy
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham made a speech at a lecture for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in London where she discussed the role of accountability in the GDPR. There was an ICO press release about the speech.
The ICO has also published GDPR guidance in 2017.
The Article 29 Working Party (“Working Party”) has published further information about its Action Plan for 2017.
Valentina Torelli on the IPKat blog has looked at the proposal for the ePrivacy regulation.
Hawktalk has examined what will happen to the overseas transfer of personal data after Brexit.
ArsTechnica has a piece entitled “Facebook, Google face strict EU privacy rules that could hit ad revenues”.
Surveillance and Information Gathering
Mike Orcutt in the MIT Technology Review argues that the “Snooper’s Charter” will have worldwide implications as it could inspire other democratic nations to adopt aggressive surveillance policies.
The CJEU’s recent decision in the Tele2/Watson case may call the viability of the new Investigatory Powers Act into question.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
Zelo Street has published a blog post entitled ‘Paul Dacre – Shame on You.’
Lucy Battersby in the Sydney Morning Herald has discussed why fake news and secret advertising are allowed to flourish online.
IPSO has attracted zero claimants to the libel and privacy disputes arbitration scheme it launched six months ago, but it has no plans to change the scheme despite an external review recommendation that it lower the fees if there were no takers.
Max Mosley has denied money to fund press regulator Impress was put together by his father and 1930s fascist leader Oswald Mosley, and said ‘Impress is completely independent – where the money is coming from doesn’t matter’.
Last week in the Courts
On 16 January 2017, Sir David Eady heard the PTR and applications in the case of Todary v W1 Cars Ltd.
On Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 January 2017, the Supreme Court heard the appeal in the case of PNM v Times Newspapers. Judgment was reserved.
On 18 January 2017 there was an application in the case of Suresh v Samad & Ors before Warby J. Judgment was reserved.
On 20 January 2017, Sir David Eady heard applications in the case of Daryanani v. Ramnani.
On the same day, Nicola Davies J handed down judgment on an application in the case of Hourani v Thomson ( EWHC 56 (QB)).
31 January 2017, Book Launch, Private Power, Online Information Flows and EU Law: Mind the Gap by Angela Daly, 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP) on Tuesday 31 January (6-8pm) with Chris Marsden (Sussex) and Orla Lynskey (LSE) as discussants. Attendance is free, but RSVP essential, to firstname.lastname@example.org or via this link.
24 March 2017, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom conference on Media Freedom in Strasbourg, entitled: “Promoting dialogue between the ECtHR and the media freedom community”
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
On 17 January 2017, Funt J gave judgment in the case of Kazakoff v. Taft 2017 BCSC 66. A number of paragraphs of the defendant’s response to the claim were struck out.
An Alberta judge has awarded former TV journalist Arthur Kent $250,000 in legal costs in his successful defamation claim against Canada’s largest newspaper chain, Postmedia.
A defamation claim filed by an Invermere animal rights activist Devin Kazakoff against the region’s New Democratic Party candidate for the upcoming provincial election is ongoing, despite part of it being thrown out by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
On 18 January 2017, the High Court handed down judgment in Fiji’s first “Facebook” libel case, Fiji Fashion Week Ltd v Radrodro  FJHC 9
The libel claim was issued against former radio personality Emosi Radrodro by Fiji Fashion Week (FFW) Ltd and its director Ellen Whippy-Knight. Ms Whippy-Knight and FFW alleged that Mr Radrodro continued to publish defamatory and false statements about them on the social media platform Facebook. In his judgment, High Court judge Justice Brito Mutunayagam ordered that Mr Radrodro pay $10,000 to Ms Whippy-Knight with costs summarily assessed in a sum of $2500.
Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, leader of the Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, has brought a libel claim against well-known Greek political cartoonist Andreas Petroulakis over an opinion article Petroulakis wrote for the news site protagon.gr in March 2015. The second case was brought against Giannis Kourtakis and Panagiotis Tzenos, the publisher and director, respectively, of the newspaper Parapolitika.
The Supreme Court has set aside a judgment of the Delhi High Court that had sentenced the editor, a journalist, printer, publisher and cartoonist of Mid-Day to four months in jail.
An IT engineer who killed his wife then committed suicide left a note that said her sharing of their personal life online sparked his anger.
A couple has been awarded more than €30,000 in damages against a neighbour who defamed it on Facebook.
Former In-Nazzjon editor Nathaniel Attard has been ordered to pay €3,000 in libel damages to ex-Special Mobile Unit constable Mario Farrugia for an article claiming he had been particularly harsh in his treatment of Nationalists.
Education minister Evarist Bartolo has filed libel proceedings against the editor of the Sunday Times of Malta, Raymond Bugeja, and journalist Ivan Camilleri, over an article alleging he had instructed the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools to overpay a tiling contractor.
The Privacy Commissioner has found a photography business misled a mother “about almost everything” in using photos of her young children in promotional material without her consent.
Larry ‘B’ Onuegbu, car dealer and owner of Auto Lounge (a luxury automobile themed bar) in Lagos, has been awarded damages in his defamation claim against Abuja-based millionaire Dumebi Kachikwu.
Former DUP minister Jonathan Bell has begun the process of taking legal action against two fellow DUP MLAs.
The state Court of Appeals in North Carolina has ruled that a charter school company in Brunswick County cannot bring a libel claim against a former public school superintendent for criticising plans for a charter school.
Jared Wheat, principal owner of Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals Inc., has lost a libel case against an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School had criticised Hi-Tech out in a research paper for selling weight-loss products containing an amphetamine-like stimulant.
A dentist in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey has filed a defamation claim against another dentist claiming the other posted defamatory reviews about him online in an effort to destroy his reputation.
Research and Resources
- The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet (2007) – the complete text of this important book, Daniel J. Solove, George Washington University Law School
- Internet Ethics, American Law, and Jewish Law: A Comparative Overview 21 J. Tech. L. & Pol’y 37 (2016), Gertrude N. Levineand Samuel J. Levine, Fairleigh Dickinson University – Fairleigh Dickinson University and Touro College – Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center
- In Search of the Concept of Essence of EU Fundamental Rights Through the Prism of Data Privacy, Maastricht Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2017-01, Maja Brkan, Maastricht University – Faculty of Law
- Could the Implied Freedom of Political Discourse Protect the Speech of a Delisted Anglican Minister?, Mitchell Landrigan Ph.D, University of Technology Sydney (UTS)
- Fostering a cyber security mindset William Dutton, Internet Policy Review.
- Foreword to Determann on California Privacy Law [pdf], 2017, Paul A Schwartz.
Next Week in the Courts
On 24, 25 and 26 January 2017, the Supreme Court (Lords Neuberger, Mance, Sumption, Hughes and Hodge) will hear the joined appeals in the cases of Flood v Times Newspapers, Miller v Associated Newspapers and Frost v MGN which the press are relying on the Human Rights Act 1998 to challenge the Conditional Fee Agreements relied on by the claimants in each case.
We are not aware of any other media law hearings next week.
The following reserved judgments in media law cases are outstanding:
Mionis v Democratic Press heard 27 October 2016 (Gloster, Sharp and Lindblom LJJ).
Otuo v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society 8 November 2016 (Chancellor, Gloster and Sharp LJJ).
Lisle-Mainwaring v Associated Newspapers heard 11 November 2016 (HHJ Parkes QC).
Lachaux v Independent Print. heard 29 and 30 November and 1 December 2016 the Court of Appeal (Macfarlane, Davis and Sharp LJJ).
His Highness Prince Moulay Hicham Ben Abdullah Al Alaoui of Morocco v Elaph Publishing Limited, heard 30 November 2016 (Patten, King and Simon LJJ).
Lisle-Mainwaring v Associated Newspapers heard 12 December 2016 (HHJ Moloney QC).
Holyoake v Candy, heard 13 and 14 December 2016 (Warby J).
Coulter v Sunday Newspapers, heard 19 December 2016 (Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland).
PNM v Times Newspapers, heard 17 and 18 January 2017 (UK Supreme Court)
Suresh v Samad & Ors, 18 January 2017 (Warby J)
This post was compiled by Georgia Tomlinson who is a researcher.