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.
The Second Reading of Lord Lester’s Defamation Bill (see our posts on the bill and on the Explanatory Notes) will take place at 10.00am on Friday 9 July 2010.
The list of those down to speak is, Baron McIntosh, Lords Bach, Pannick and Willis, Baroness Bonham-Carter, Lord Borrie, Baroness Buscombe, Lords Fowler and Goodhart, Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town, Lord Hunt of Wirral, Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, Lord Lester, Lord McNally, Lord Ramsbotham, Lord Taverne, Lord Thomas of Gresford, Lord Triesman and Baroness Young of Hornsey. We leave our readers to work out, from this list, the likely balance of the debate. Live coverage will, unusually, be available on the BBC website.
We also draw attention to an interesting blog post by Kevin Marsh of the BBC College of Journalism. He makes a point which will, we hope, be raised by at least some of the participant’s in Friday’s debate
“what about the public? Where’s their voice? Isn’t there the possibility, at the very least, that those who have no self-interest in all of this believe that that ‘chilling effect’ is no bad thing; that the media shouldn’t be able to trash reputations in the heat of the journalistic moment; and that the possibility/threat of legal sanction might, in the wider public interest, possibly do more good than harm?”
Meanwhile, back in the courts, a Haringey social worker involved in the Baby Peter case has recovered libel damages from Haringey Council which libelled her on its website. The Council falsely alleged that she did not raise concerns about returning Baby Peter to his mother, Tracey Connelly, who was one of three people eventually convicted of causing or allowing his death. A Statement in Open Court was made and the case was reported on the BBC Website.
It has been reported that despite her reverse before Mr Justice Tugendhat, Dr Sarah Thornton is to continue her libel action against the Daily Telegraph. There is a post about the decision on “trivial libels” by Nigel Hanson of Foot Anstey on the Hold the Front Page website.
The Fiddes case continues to produce media comment. Writing in the “Independent” Matthew Bell discusses the settlement of the claim. suggesting that the action leaves lots of costs and no winners.
The blogosphere has, this week, been consumed with increasingly absurd rumours about super-injunctions relating to English footballers. It is, apparently, more interesting to suggest that the defeat by Germany might be explained by sexual shenanigans rather than by bad football. The “Enemies of Reason” blog has an interesting post on the topic.
The Young Norwood Lawyers charity event “I’m a celebrity, give me some privacy” on 1 July 2010 appears to have been a great success. Press Release summarises the discussion as follows
“Amber Melville-Brown, who specialises in defamation, privacy and reputation management, said the topic of celebrity privacy was regularly discussed among her journalist friends, and explained the differences between the injunctions required to stop media organisations publishing a photo, and those needed to prevent a story being published. Meanwhile, William McCormick QC spoke in defence of the newspapers, but said: “Newspapers have a legal obligation to let celebrities know if they are going to be the subject of a story, although sometimes they tactically keep quiet.” Mark Moody gave his views on celebrity entrapment and how celebrities like Lorraine find it extremely hard to fight back when a false story is published by tabloid titans”
As is apparent from our post on libel cases in the first 6 months of 2010, an increasing proportion of libel claims are being struck out by the Court. The International Law Office has an article about strike outs in English libel proceedings, “Stricter with strike-out? High Court gets tougher on libel claimants” by Brid Jordan of RPC.
We had a post some time ago about the question of a “human right to internet access”. It is arguable that Article 10 places the state under a positive obligation to provide such access. We note that Finland is reported to be the first country to introduce a “legal right to broadband” although not, as far as we now, inspired by its Article 10 obligations.
In the Courts
In Wright v Gregson ( EWHC 1629 (QB)) Mr Justice Eady considered a meaning summons and a strike out application in a claim by a “former charity boss”, acting in person, against a local newspaper. He held that two of the articles he complained about were not defamatory but allowed the remainder of the action to proceed and made no order as to costs. There is a report on the “Hold the Front Page” website.
From the Blogs
Writing on his blog on the Guardian website Roy Greenslade disagrees with Lord Puttnam’s criticisms of the PCC, arguing that the PCC is the
It is the least worst way of compelling editors and journalists to be responsible without curbing all of their freedom.
The Journalism.co.uk blog discusses a proposal in Bangladesh to introduce new law to target “yellow journalism”. This includes, for example, a proposal that editors must have at least 15 years journalistic experience. This has, in turn, led to criticism from the local press.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
After a number of hearings going back to February 2008, Simpson J in New South Wales gave a 743 paragraph judgment in the case Michael Megna & Russell Lloyd v David Marshall & Richard Tory  NSWSC 686. The former mayor and general manager of Drummoyne Council were awarded damages of more than Aus$600,000 over a series of “political scandal sheets”. The defence of qualified privilege failed for 33 imputations
The case of Carey v ABC  NSWSC 709 (30 June 2010) dealt with limitation issues in the defamation context.
In Nu-Tec v ABC  NSWSC 711 (30 June 2010) the second plaintiff’s claim was dismissed after the conclusion of evidence for plaintiffs on the basis that there was no evidence upon which the jury could decide that the matters complained of identified him.
The case of Neesham v. 6PR Southern Cross Radio Pty Ltd (No 3)  WASC 161 was an application for leave to amend in a defamation case.
This we we had a post about the new Canadian defence of “responsible communication“. The defence is discussed by Canadian lawyer Julian Falconer on this video
US Law and Media News
Once again, this will be the subject of a separate post.
As mentioned above next Friday, 9 July 2010, will see the Second Reading of Lord Lester’s Defamation Bill.
Next Week in the Courts
The following reserved judgments in media and related cases remain outstanding:
Imerman v Tchenguiz (and linked appeals), heard 10 to 11 May 2010 (Master of the Rolls, Moses and Munby LJJ)
Flood v Times Newspapers Limited, heard 25 and 26 May 2010 (Master of the Rolls and Moore-Bick and Moses LJJ)
Ambrosiadou v Coward, heard 21 and 22 June 2010 (Eady J)
Clift v Slough BC heard 23 and 24 June 2010 (Ward, Thomas and Richards LJJ).