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

Latest Cases

BBC v HarperCollins, 1 September 2010, Morgan J (ChD).  Application for an interim injunction to restrain the publication of a book concerning the “Stig” refused.  Judgment to be given at a later date.   See the news stories on the BBC in The Guardian.

Ray Chesterton v Radio 2UE Sydney Pty Ltd [2010] NSWSC 982, 1 Sept 2010, McCallum J.  Libel damages of Aus$90,000 awarded against a radio station.  See the Sydney Morning Herald news story.

Latest Regulatory Decisions

Latest decisions of the Scottish Information Commissioner

Latest Decision Notices from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Recent Developments

“George Galloway sues over NoW phone hacking”, Press Gazette, 1 Sep 2010.  Reports that former MP George Galloway is claiming damages in excess of £300,000 from the publisher of the News of the World in relation to alleged phone hacking.

Wayne Rooney sues Sun over World Cup holiday story” Sarah Limbrick, Press Gazette – 31 Aug 2010.  Reports that Wayne Rooney has launched a libel action against The Sun over two stories suggesting he confirmed a holiday booking after figuring that England would be knocked out of the World Cup. According to a writ filed at the High Court, the stories suggest that two days before he was due to play in England’s crucial second out World Cup match against Germany, Rooney had already confirmed his holiday booking.

“WikiLeaks war logs posting ‘will lead to free speech ruling'”, David Batty, The Guardian – 27 Aug 2010.  Reports that US supreme court justice Sonia Sotomayor has said the court is likely to have to rule on the issue of balancing national security and freedom of speech due to WikiLeaks posting a cache of US military records about the Afghan war. Sotomayor said the incident was likely to provoke legislation in Congress that would require judicial scrutiny. Her comments came in response to a question about security and free speech by a student at Denver university.

“Think tank urges costs cap in ‘no win, no fee’ cases” PA Mediapoint, Press Gazette –26 Aug 2010.  The Adam Smith Institute has argued that defendants that lose so-called “no win, no fee” cases should have the amount they pay towards legal cost capped. It said that civil legal aid should be abolished for almost all compensation cases as the UK cuts the cost of its “risk-free, compensation culture”. It called for a fundamental review of the funding of access to justice, saying civil legal aid provides “dubious value for money” and should be abolished in most cases. Both the current system and no-win, no-fee arrangements are so biased in favour of the claimants, the think tank said, that they encourage people to “make a claim effectively risk-free”.

“Press standards, privacy and libel: Responses to the Committee’s Second Report of Session 2009-10Commons CMS Committee, First Special Report – 13 Jul 2010. On 24 Feb 2010, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee published its Second Report of Session 2009-10, Press standards, privacy and libel. The Committee has now received responses from the Press Standards Board of Finance and Editors’ Code of Practice Committee, published as Appendices 1 and 2.

“Libel Tourism is a very rare thing in the UK Courts,, 2 August 2010.  Just three out of 83 defamation cases reported in the UK in the past year involved libel tourism, according to a study. Concern about foreign residents suing foreign publishers in UK courts greatly outweighs its actual occurrence, the figures suggest.