Case Law: Fiddes v Channel 4, “the end of trial by jury?”

31 05 2010

Last Friday, 28 May 2010, Mr Justice Tugendhat ordered that the trial in the case of Fiddes v Channel Four should be by judge alone.  The case concerns a documentary purporting to show members of Michael Jackson’s family moving to Devon and the claimant accuses the defendants of “faking” certain elements of the programme.  The trial is due to begin on 14 June 2010 and would have been the first libel jury trial since Desmond v Bower, which concluded on 22 July 2009.   Read the rest of this entry »

Law and Media Round up 30 May 2010

30 05 2010

In this regular feature we draw attention to the last week’s law and media news and next week’s upcoming events. If readers have any news or events which they would like to draw attention to please add them by way of comments on this post. We are particularly interested in forthcoming events.


We have already commented on the two biggest media law stories of the week.  First, there was the Duchess of York’s exposure by a “News of the World” sting.  The issue of the public interest justification for this operation was discussed by us in a posting, which was subsequently republished on the “Guardian Legal Network”.  This was, in turn, picked up by Roy Greenslade on his blog.  Read the rest of this entry »

Opinion: “Private Lives – Part 1” Amber Melville-Brown

29 05 2010

As Max Mosley marches to Strasbourg to ask Europe’s human rights court to force the media to give individuals advance warning of salacious stories, Amber Melville-Brown rounds up the current privacy state of play across the continent

‘You have been found guilty of invasion of privacy. Bailiffs, take them down.’ An unlikely utterance from a judge – save in those countries where the authorities flinch at the concept of freedom of speech – but a recent Italian case has surprisingly resulted in prison sentences for three defendants over their involvement in privacy invasions. Read the rest of this entry »

French Kiss and Tell – are attitudes changing?

28 05 2010

French privacy law is well known to provide strong protection against media intrusion, even for celebrities behaving badly.  We have discussed the outlines of the law in an earlier post.   “Public interest” considerations in general do not justify the disclosure of “private misbehaviour”.  The French law of privacy is seen by some as a more appropriate way in which to deal with the balance between privacy and freedom of expression.  At the Gray’s Inn forum on “Gagging the Media” earlier this year (see our post here) playwright  Tom Stoppard described Bénédicte Paviot’s account of the privacy position in France as “sounding like civilisation”. Read the rest of this entry »

Lord Lester’s Defamation Bill – an overview

27 05 2010

Lord Lester’s much heralded Defamation Bill (see our earlier post) has been published today.  This is Private Members’ Bill, introduced by the Lib Dem peer in an attempt to assist the Government in its libel reform proposals.  There is a Press Release which tells that the Bill Read the rest of this entry »

Lord Steyn’s Boydell Lecture – Defamation and Privacy

26 05 2010

Lord Steyn gave the 3rd Annual Boydell Lecture on 26 May 2010 in Inner Temple Hall on the topic of “Defamation and Privacy:  Momentum for Substantive and Procedural Change” – (abandoning his announced title of “Litigation Tourism: Defamation and Privacy“).  The lecture focussed on the decision in Reynolds v Times Newspapers ([2001] 2 AC 127) – a case in which he was a member of the Judicial Committee.   In Reynolds he agreed with the rest of the Committee that a new form of “qualified privilege defence” should be available to the media – although he dissented on the facts, favouring a retrial.  In his lecture he was critical of the decision – pointing out that the subsequent decision in Jameel v Wall Street Journal ([2007] 1 AC 359) retained the basic Reynolds approach.  Read the rest of this entry »

“Libel must be rebalanced in the scales of justice” – the proposed Libel Reform Bill [updated]

26 05 2010

The review of the law of libel did not get a mention in the Queen’s Speech but the indefatigable Lib Dem peer Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC is this week presenting a draft private member’s Defamation Bill to the House of Lords with the strong support of the media.  Read the rest of this entry »