This is a weekly Media Law Update prepared by the Legal Information Team at Matrix Chambers, which they have kindly agreed to make available to readers of Inforrm.

Latest Cases

Commission v Bavarian Lager Co Ltd & Ors (C-28/08) CJEU – 13 Jul 2010,  The Court annulled a judgment of the Court of First Instance (now the General Court) in so far as it had annulled the Commission’s decision refusing access to document on basis of the exception relating to protection of privacy and integrity of individual and the exception relating to protection of decision-making process.

R (Gaunt) v Ofcom [2010] EWHC 1756 (Admin) QBD (Admin) – 13 Jul 2010.  The applicant radio presenter who called a Redbridge councilor, the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, a “Nazi” live on air lost his challenge to Ofcom’s decision to uphold complaints against him. Gaunt claimed that Ofcom’s finding that the interview contained material which might cause offence which was not justified by its context, and was incompatible with ECHR, art 10. The Court found, on the facts, that the defendant regulator, Ofcom, had been justified to conclude that the claimant broadcaster had breached provisions of the Broadcasting Code on account of his actions in the live radio interview on the subject of a council-led proposal to ban smokers from becoming foster parents on the ground that passive smoking had a propensity for harming foster children. For news story, see here.  For Ofcom press release, see here.

Flood v Times Newspapers Ltd [2010] EWCA Civ 804 CA (Civ Div) – 13 Jul 2010 The appellant police officer appealed against a decision that the publication of a defamatory article was protected by the defence of qualified privilege. Held: there was no reason to exclude allegations made to the police from the ambit of potential privilege under Reynolds. While an appellate court should be very slow to interfere with a judge’s findings of fact or exercise of discretion, the inquiry involved in deciding whether the Reynolds privilege could be claimed was ultimately a matter of judgment which raised a question of law to which there was only one right answer. There were three requirements of Reynolds privilege: (a) the article as a whole was on a matter of public interest, (b) the inclusion of the allegations was part of the story and made a real contribution to it, and (c) the steps taken to gather and publish the information were responsible and fair. The Master of the Rolls accepted the claimant’s submission that conditions (b) and (c) were not satisfied. For Case Commentary, see here:

Latest Regulatory Decisions

Latest decision of the Scottish Information Commissioner.

Decision Notices from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Latest decisions of the First-tier Tribunal, General Regulatory Chamber [Information Rights]

Recent Developments

Iceland aims to become a legal safe haven for journalists Afua Hirsch The Guardian – 12 Jul 2010.  Notes that a resolution proposing the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), has been unanimously passed by the country’s parliament. The IMMI combines the laws most friendly to journalists, so that Iceland-based media would be immune from the ‘least friendly’ laws elsewhere.

Plans to reform defamation law announced Ministry of Justice Press release – 9 Jul 2010 Reports that the Ministry of Justice will publish a draft Defamation Bill for consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny in the new year, with a view to introducing a Bill as soon after that as parliamentary time allows.  For press coverage, see here, and here.

Personal information online – code of practice Information Commissioner’s Office Guide – 7 Jul 2010. Guidance for organizations that handle personal data online. For ICO press release, see here. For ITPro blog commentary, see here.

Academies Bill amended to bring academy proprietors within FOI Act FOI Blog – 8 Jul 2010. The Academies Bill has been amended in the House of Lords to bring academy proprietors within the scope of the FOI Act. The amendment was passed at the Bill’s report stage.  For progress of Bill in parliament, see here.

BT and TalkTalk challenge Digital Economy Act BBC News – 8 Jul 2010. Reports that BT and TalkTalk are seeking a judicial review of the controversial Digital Economy Act. The claim the Act was “rushed through” parliament before the General Election. Both think it had “insufficient scrutiny” and question whether its proposals to curb illegal file-sharing harm “basic rights and freedoms”.

PCC Governance Review Report – 7 Jul 2010,  For PCC’s initial response, see here.

Articles & Discussion

Preparation of witness statements – some do’s and dont’s Anya Proops, Panopticon Blog – 13 Jul 2010. Discusses a decision, Metropolitan Police Service v IC EA/2010/0006, which highlights the dangers to a public authority if it fails to ensure that any witness statements generated for the purposes of the tribunal hearing are sufficiently full and illuminating.

Section 36 revisited – dangers for the public authority. Panopticon blog – 12 Jul 2010. Discusses the restrictive approach to FOI Act 2000, s 36(2) (prejudice the effective conduct in public affairs) as approved in the case of Chief Constable of Surrey Police v IC EA/2009/0081.

Coalition Britain – a new era of digital politics, Ed Baden-Powell & Nick Eziefula (Michael Simkins LLP). Entertainment Law Review Ent. L.R. (2010) Vol.21 No.6 pgs.205-208.  Comments on the Digital Economy Act 2010, which will require internet service providers to co-operate with copyright proprietors and to implement a graduated response to users suspected of infringing copyright.

High Court decision revisits protection of databases in the United Kingdom – Football Dataco Ltd v Brittens Pools Ltd Colin Sawdy, Entertainment Law Review Ent. L.R. (2010) Vol.21 No.6 pgs.221-224. Comments on Football Dataco Ltd v Brittens Pools Ltd [2010] EWHC 841 (Ch) on whether the football fixture lists arranged and published by the English and Scottish football organisations were protected by copyright or database right. Reviews previous cases on the licensing of sports data and examines whether the fixture lists qualified for database copyright under Directive 96/9 (Database Directive), art 3 because the work of selection and arrangement was the author’s own intellectual creation.