“Their Royal Heilnesses”: the Sun, the Royal Family, Public Interest and Freedom of Information

20 07 2015

Sun Royal HeilnessesOn 18 July 2015, the Sun ran a front page “exclusive” showing a picture of the Queen (aged about 7 or 8) and the Queen Mother doing Nazi Salutes. In the background can be seen the then Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII.  The pictures were extracted from a short piece of film – apparently taken in 1933 or 1934 by the future George VI – from the royal family’s archives.  The footage was also made available by the Sun. Read the rest of this entry »

Sun Six Trial: A journalist’s belief that they acted in the public interest by paying an official is not a defence, says judge – Martin Hickman

14 12 2014

A picture taken on February 26, 2012 inA journalist’s belief that they acted in the public interest by paying a public official for information does not protect them from the criminal law, a judge said on Friday when giving the jury legal directions in the Sun Six Trial. Read the rest of this entry »

Defamation Act 2013, A Critical Evaluation, Part 4, “Public Interest” defence – Dan Tench

29 07 2014

Defamation ActIn earlier posts I have dealt with general concerns about the Defamation Act 2013, concerns about section 1, “Serious harm” and the new statutory defences of “truth” and “honest comment” in section 2 and section 3. In this post, I continue setting out concerns with the Defamation Act 2013 by looking at the public interest defence in section 4. Read the rest of this entry »

Inaccurate, untested and uncorrected: another weak and inadequate PCC adjudication

12 03 2014

pccThe Press Complaints Commission (“PCC”) rarely makes adjudications on complaints. Only seven have been published in 2014.  Bearing in mind the fact that the PCC staff and procedures seem likely to be transferred wholesale to the successor body, IPSO, it is worth scrutinising adjudications with some care.  Read the rest of this entry »

Tulisa, Mercer and Yeo: the Journalistic Sting and the Public Interest

26 07 2013

TulisaOver the past couple of months the tabloids, the broadsheets and the broadcasters have been entertaining us with “journalistic sting” stories.  Politicians and celebrities have been caught out by fictitious lobbying companies and the “fake sheikh”. Read the rest of this entry »

News: “‘Protecting free speech: A Public Interest Defence for the Media?”, A Debate at Gray’s Inn – Henry Vane

24 03 2013

Gray's Inn HallJournalism in ‘the public interest’ is central to a healthy democracy but extremely hard to define and police.  At present it has an ambiguous legal status; recognised by law but not enshrined in it. The ‘public interest’ is often (successfully) used as a defence by journalists for publishing stories or doing things which are technically illegal. Yet this protection relies on the discretion of judges and the CPS and is not underpinned in statute. Read the rest of this entry »

A New Style Public Interest Defence in Libel Law? – Andrew Scott and Alastair Mullis

8 11 2012

An interesting proposal has slipped quietly into the mix for consideration during the House of Lords Committee stage deliberations on the Defamation Bill. During the Second Reading debate, Lord Lester mooted a possible alternative to the clause 4 defence of responsible publication on a matter of public interest. The Joint Committee on Human Rights has pressed the Government on the desirability of the new alternative. In our view, the proposal – developed by Sir Brian Neill (pic) – offers an opportunity both to improve the operation of the existing common law defence and to ‘tidy up’ aspects of the existing Bill. Read the rest of this entry »


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