Law and Media Round Up – 3 July 2017 [Updated]

3 07 2017

On 29 June 2017 the Culture Secretary Karen Bradley made a statement to the House of Commons stating that she was “minded” to refer the proposed takeover of Sky plc by 21st Century Fox Inc to the Competition and Markets Authority on plurality grounds.

The underlying documents are available on the Gov.uk website – along with a facility for those wishing to submit representations on the issue.

At the same time Ofcom published its “fit and proper” assessment [pdf], concluding that

“the behaviours alleged at Fox News amount to significant corporate failure, however the overall evidence available to date does not provide a reasonable basis to conclude that if Sky were 100% owned and controlled by Fox, it would not be fit and proper to hold broadcast licences”.

These matters were the subject of some media comment: the BBC questioned what the issues are in Fox’s Sky deal, while the Daily Mail reported the delay of Murdoch’s Sky bid. Press Gazette reported on Karen Bradley’s statement.

Hacked Off published a press release which said that victims of press abuse have said that Murdoch’s sky bid ‘must be shelved’ until the Leveson Inquiry is completed. The Media Reform Coalition also released a statement responding to the announcement of the review of the bid.

On Thursday and Friday, the Administrative Court heard the challenge by the press to the recognition of Impress as an approved regulator by the Press Recognition Panel (“the PRP”).  The arguments of the press against recognition were reported in the Telegraphthe Sun and the Herald.  There appears to be no press reports at all of the argument advanced by the PRP.

Trinity Mirror has raised the estimated cost of dealing with phone-hacking claims by £7.5 million to £35.5 million.

On 29 June 2017 O’Farrell J ordered Kensington and Chelsea council to lift a ban on the media reporting on the first meeting of councillors to discuss the Grenfell Tower disaster, after a legal challenge by the Guardian and other media groups.  The Council’s decision was condemned by the Government and the Media.

There were two important judgments handed down by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights on 27 June 2017:

  • In Satakunnan Markkinapörssi Oy and Satamedia Oy v. Finland [2017] ECHR 607  the Grand Chamber (15:2) upheld the much criticised decision of the Fourth Section (see our post by Dirk Voorhoof) that there was no violation of Article 10.  There is a post about the decision on the Panopticon blog which says that the decision shows that ‘privacy can trump expression, even with open-source data.’
  • In Medžlis Islamske Zajednice Brčko and Others v. Bosnia and Herzegovina  [2017] ECHR 608 the Grand Chamber (11:6) upheld the decision of Fourth Section that domestic defamation proceedings did not violate Article 10.

The judgment in the case of Richard v BBC [2017] EWHC 1648 (Ch) – dealing with principles governing the making of statements in open court – has recently been made available on Bailii.

There is a review of the new book, “Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed” by Peter Jukes and Alastair Morgan on the Press Gang blog.  There is a piece on Byline by Peter Jukes, taken from the book, on Murdoch’s Corporate Knowledge of the murder and misleading parliament.

The NUJ has welcomed new police guidelines which cover their dealings with the media, but say that they do not go far enough to support journalists reporting on matters in the public interest.

Internet and Social Media

The German parliament has approved a bill which will require social media platforms to remove obviously illegal hate speech and other postings within 24 hours of receiving a notification. Companies will face fines of up to €50m if they persistently fail to remove this illegal content from their sites.

Socially Aware has published Social Links, a round up of the most important stories in the world of social media this week.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

Hawktalk has commented on the Data Protection Bill as announced in the Queen’s Speech.

FieldFisher privacy, security and information law blog has published a list of “the great unsolved data protection challenges of our time.”

On 29 June 2017 Green J handed down judgment in the case of Hussain v Sandwell Metropolitan BC [2017] EWHC 1641 (Admin) which contains some interesting discussion of data protection principles applicable to publication of information.  There is a post on the case  on the Panopticon blog Flushing out Wrongdoing: the DPA and the Publication of Allegations about Toilets.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, is scheduled to hear a motion for preliminary approval of the record data breach settlement in the Anthem class action case.

Privacy Europe has assessed the impact that the GDPR will have on cyber threats.

Cearta.ie blog has examined the damages for breaching the GDPR.

The Panopticon blog has a post on definition of environmental information, Don’t mention the bigger picture.

The Kingsley Napley Employment Law Blog has a post entitled “Data Protection – 10 further top tips for responding to subject access requests”.

Surveillance

As part of the 27th session of the Universal Periodic Review the Privacy International Network has submitted joint stakeholder reports for seven partner countries. One of their concerns with regards to these countries was communications surveillance. Privacy International have also published a blog post entitled Shades of “deep grey”; lessons from an undercover surveillance investigation.

In a recent case between Glassdoor, an online job-review website, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) an Arizona Judge has ruled that the DOJ can compel a private company to give up someone’s private information because they expressed an opinion online.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

In the wake of CNN’s Scaramucci story Politico has questioned whether journalists have ‘the right to be wrong.’

Richard Thomas and Stephen Cushion in the Hoot have examined Buzfeed’s coverage of the recent UK election.

IPSO

IPSO has ruled that the Mail Online did not breach the privacy clause of the Editors’ Code when they published pictures of David and Victoria Beckham’s new UK home.

Brighton’s Argus newspaper breached the Editors’ Code with a story which claimed the local council evicted homeless people from tents on New Year’s Day. The story was judged to be inaccurate by IPSO, and a further correction has been requested.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

There was a Statement in Open Court on 28 June 2017 in the case of Meechan v Reyner and Ors read before Warby JWe had a post about this statement.

Last week in the Courts

On 26, 27 and 28 June 2017 Warby J heard the trial in the case of ABC (a mother) v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire.  Judgment was reserved

On 27 June 2017 Warby J handed down judgment in the cases of Alsaifi v Amunwa  and Alsaifi v Trinity Mirror  [2017] EWHC 1444 (QB) and Alsaifi v  Amunwa [2017] EWHC 1443 (QB)

As we have already mentioned, on 29 and 30 June 2017 the Administrative Court (Rafferty LJ and Popplewell J) heard the judicial review application in the case of R (News Media Association) v Press Recognition Panel.  Judgment was reserved.

On 28 June 2017, the Court of Appeal (Master of the Rolls, Longmore and Sharp LJJ) heard the appeal in the case of Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP v Reuters Ltd.  Judgment was reserved.

On the same day Macfarlane LJ refused permission to appeal in the long running application in the case of Lokhova v Tymula.

On 29 June 2017 Sir David Eady heard an appeal in the slander case of Otu v Morley and decided that the Master had not made a final determination on the defendant’s summary judgment application.  The substantive application was adjourned to a later date.  A summary of the judgment is available on Lawtel [£]

Events

6 July 2017, “The Legal Challenges of Social Media,” Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR

6 July 2017, IPSO Annual Lecture, John Whittingdale, 6pm Church House, Westminster.

26 February 2018, “Global Internet and Jurisdiction Conference,” Ottowa, Canada.

Please let us know if there are any media and law events which you would like us to list. 

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Australia

In an interview on ABC radio John Menadue, a former head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, has called News Corp a “rogue organisation.” He also said that “the Australian government should resist any attempt to expand the media power of the news organisation which already controls 60 or 70% of the metropolitan media in Australia.”

Canada

The Supreme Court handed down judgment in the controversial case of Google Inc v Equustek (2017 SCC 34) dismissing (7:2) Google’s appeal against a worldwide injunction ordering it to remove websites from search results.  We had a post about this decision.

Ireland

In the case of McDonagh v Sunday Newspapers Limited  [2017] IESC 46 the Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal was incorrect to overturn a High Court jury’s finding of fact in a defamation case against the Sunday World.  The exceptional circumstances required to overturn a jury verdict did not exist. There is a report of the decision in Irish Legal News.

Malta

The Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of Police Inspector Elton Taliana in his libel case against it-Torca editor Alexander Farrugia, who had claimed that the inspector had knowingly left an innocent man in prison.

New Zealand

There is an interesting case note of the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner’s Office ([2017] NZ PrivCmr 6) about their neighbour’s security cameras, which turned out to be ‘cheap plastic dummy cameras.’

South Africa

Former acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane has been successful in his defamation claim against Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) and its secretary, Steve Matsemela.

United States

ABC and Beef Products Inc. have reached a settlement in their defamation case over a series of news reports on the meat producer’s use of lean, finely textured beef product — sometimes referred to as “pink slime case.” Some observers, such as the Sioux City Journal, were surprised by the timing of the settlement.

Sarah Palin has filed a defamation claim against The New York Times over an editorial that linked the 2011 shooting of Republican Gabby Giffords to an advert circulated by Palin that put Democratic districts under crosshairs.

Privacy Lives has examined the increasing use license-plate-recognition camera technology and the possible privacy, civil liberty and security implications about the surveillance technology used to gather and record information on drivers’ movements.

A jury in Georgia has awarded James Lyle a total of $833,000 in his libel case against Lee Martin and the Tea Party Patriots after Martin made defamatory comments about Lyle on Facebook.

Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp., is seeking a gagging order against John Oliver after filing a defamation claim against him earlier this month.

Zambia

A man has filed a libel and slander claim against the United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema’s wife, Mutinta, after she accused him of planning to kill the opposition leader. He is seeking K5 billion in damages.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On 3 July 2017, Mann J will consider the trial timetable in the case of Various Claimants v Mirror Group Newspapers.  The trial is due to begin on 5 July 2017 and is listed for 7 days.

Judgments

The following reserved judgments after public hearings in media law cases are outstanding:

Mionis v Democratic Press heard 27 October 2016 (Gloster, Sharp and Lindblom LJJ)

Lachaux v Independent Print, heard 29 and 30 November and 1 December 2016 (Macfarlane, Davis and Sharp LJJ).

Lisle-Mainwaring v Associated Newspapers heard 12 December 2016 (HHJ Moloney QC).

PNM v Times Newspapers, heard 17 and 18 January 2017 (UK Supreme Court)

Guise v Shah, heard 2-3, 5, 8 and 11 May 2017 (Dingemans J)

RJH v News Group Newspapers, heard 21 June 2016 (Warby J)  [Updated]

ABC (a mother) v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, heard 26, 27 and 28 June 2017 (Warby J)

Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP v Reuters Ltd., heard 28 June 2017 (Master of the Rolls, Longmore and Sharp LJJ).

R (News Media Association) v Press Recognition Panel. 29 and 30 June 2017  (Rafferty LJ and Popplewell J).

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