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.
The “News of the World” voice mail hacking story continues to dominate the media and law news. Tom Watson MP raised the matter in Parliament on Monday 6 September 2010, Then, on Thursday 9 September 2010 it was debated as a matter of privilege – with the issue being referred to the Standards and Privileges Committee., Simon Hoggart suggested in the Guardian that MPs had got their chance to hit back at tabloid press that has been tormenting them for years.
A former member of the “News of the World” investigations team, Paul McMullan told the “Guardian” that he personally commissioned private investigators to commit several hundred acts which could be regarded as unlawful, that use of illegal techniques was no secret at the paper, and that senior editors, including Coulson, were aware this was going on. The Guardian has “full list of victims identified so far.”
Roy Greenslade commented on the story in his “Guardian” blog in a post entitled “Coulson – and Murdoch – feel the heat as phone hacking story gains traction”. He also has a good article in the Evening Standard on the affair. In another blog post entitled “No royal commission, and don’t blame the PCC – focus on the real culprits” he considers how the matter should be investigated, concluding:
Forget the PCC. Forget any idea of a royal commission. It’s a matter or proportion and focus. It is time for a proper inquiry into the News of the World’s misbehaviour and the police’s shortcomings.
On his blog Jon Slattery discusses an interesting new angle – a 2005 Press Gazette interview with Andy Coulson and other News of the World Staff. The point is pursued by Brian Cathcart on the “Index on Censorship” blog in a post entitled “David Beckham’s phones: a question worth asking”
David Allen Green (who, due to popular demand has restored his blog’s old name of “Jack of Kent”) has a helpful post on “Metgate: a Guide to the Current Issues”
The Wayne Rooney story continues to occupy a large number of column inches in the popular press – with front page stories in both the “People” and the “Sunday Mirror”. The ever combative “Enemies of Reason” blog has interesting posts on the subject of “Rooney, middle class prostitutes and the blame game” and “Tarts and Hookers”. Mediapal@lse has a post on “Understanding Rooney: privacy and prior publicity” in which he argues that Mr Rooney’s privacy interests might have been weakened by prior publicity. We will deal with this issue in a post later in the week.
“Thousands of unfounded, malicious and wholly unproven allegations are on their site which are damaging the reputation of blameless businesses”.
The proposed group action is discussed on the KwikChex website. The action raises number of interesting legal questions. It does not appear that proceedings have yet been issued. We have not come across “KwikChex” before. It is the trading name of Elevated Communications Ltd and is based in Bournemouth. It “provides a range of services” including “business reputation enhancement, promotion and protection”. The company, apparently, ranks as No.5 in the latest list of the Top 10 Reputation Management Companies in the UK.
Snooker player John Higgins has been cleared of agreeing to fix snooker matches – but the News of the World nevertheless claimed victory. Roy Greenslade does not pull his punches with a blog posted entitled “News of the World’s entrapment of John Higgins besmirches journalism”.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
In Creighton v Nationwide News Pty  NSWDC 192 District Court Judge Judith Gibson reaffirmed recent defamation practice by allowing the plaintiff to “plead back” the defendant’s contextual truth imputations (notwithstanding the approach taken by Simpson J in Kermode v Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd  NSWSC 852).
From the Blogs
The excellent Cearta.ie blog has listed Inforrm as one of its “Top 10 Online Free Speech Resources”. We are not sure whether we quite merit the description – we see ourselves more as a “balanced speech resource” but thank you anyway to Dr O’Dell.
The Index on Censorship blog (which deserves a place in the list of “free speech resources”) has an interesting post on the campaign to censor “Craigslist” by deleting the “Adult Services” section of the website.
US Law and Media News
Once again, this will be the subject of a separate post.
No events have been reported to us.
Next Week in the Courts
We are not aware of any media law cases listed for next week.
The following reserved judgments remain outstanding:
Clift v Slough BC heard 23 and 24 June 2010 (Ward, Thomas and Richards LJJ).
Hamptons International Dubai LLC & anr v Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors heard 23 July 2010 (Eady J)
Spiller v Joseph heard 26 and 27 July 2010 (Lords Phillips, Rodger, Walker and Brown and Sir John Dyson)
BBC v HarperCollins, heard 31 August and 1 September 2010 (Morgan J)