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

Latest Cases

DFT v TFD [2010] EWHC 2335 (QB) 27 Sep 2010 The case concerned a blackmail case in which a woman was threatening to make public private and confidential information concerning a sexual relationship with the claimant unless she was paid very substantial sums. The injunction was granted restraining publication of the private information and the judge also ordered anonymity and made an order prohibiting the reporting of the fact of the order had been made.

The reason for the anonymity was to prevent inevitable intrusions into the claimants private life. The court also decided that there was cogent evidence of blackmail and therefore granted an order the prohibiting the publication of the fact of the order being made in order to stop the “tipping off” of the defendant prior to service. On the return date, the claimant argued for continuation of the anonymity and of the super-injunction. Held: the claimant’s ECHR, art 8 rights were engaged and that the art 10 rights of the defendant appeared to be extremely weak (“if they are engaged at all”). As a result, she had no doubt that the claimant was entitled to the continuation of the substantive order. The order for anonymity was continued on the basis that if he was identified by name there was a serious risk that the information would emerge and the purpose of the order would be frustrated. The judge, however, refused to continue the “super-injunction” element of the order. She noted that such injunctions were a matter of public interest and controversy and that this gave rise to practical risks of “jigsaw identification”. She considered the anonymity provisions and certain other provisions of the order were sufficient to protect the claimant’s privacy rights. For judgment, see here.   There are news stories about the case in the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.

Latest Regulatory Decisions

Latest decisions of the Scottish Information Commissioner:

Latest Decision Notices from the Information Commissioner’s Office:

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

  • Department for Works and Pensions v IC EA/2010/0073. FIO Act 2000, s 43 (prejudicial to commercial interests): Please download:
  • Michael Garrard v IC EA/2009/0107. FIO Act 2000, s 16 (duty to provide advice and assistance): Please download:

Adjudicated – Mr Adam Sheppard v Daily Star, PCC Decision Notice – 27 Sep 2010.  Complaint alleging breach of clause 1 (accuracy) of the Code of Practice.  For full text, see here and for the press release see here.

Recent Developments

Prime Minister of Turkey sues the Daily Telegraph, Oliver Luft, Press Gazette – 29 Sep 2010.  Reports that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, is taking legal action against the Daily Telegraph after it alleged a $25m donation was made to his AK Parti after he negotiated with Iran. Carter-Ruck is acting for Erdogan. For news story see here.

BBC pulls panorama programme on Ashcroft, PA Media Lawyer, Press Gazette – 28 Sep 2010. Notes that the show about the controversial Conservative backer  – meant to have gone out on 27 Sep 2010 – was withdrawn after receiving a response earlier in the day to a question about a share interest transfer. The BBC said the answer “shed new light” on the issue and it would be reviewing the programme. For news stories, see here and here.

Freedom of Information at the Festival of Politics: “Freedom of Information – What Difference Has It Made?” Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner, To download speeches, see here.

Paper did not harass Wright piper, BBC News – 23 Sep 2010.  The High Court in Northern Ireland has ruled that Drew King, who played the pipes at loyalist Billy Wright’s funeral, was not subjected to harassment by a tabloid newspaper, the Sunday World. However, a judge found that the newspaper misused some private information in articles it published on Mr King, who had formerly been charged with murdering a Sunday World journalist.For news story, see here.

Academies: Freedom of Information, House of Commons Hansard, Parliamentary Written Question – 16 Sep 2010

“Philip Davies:  To ask the Secretary of State for Education for what reasons academies are not subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [8620]

Jake Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Education whether he plans to make academy schools subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [11456]

Mr Gibb: Academies are currently not subject to the provision of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000. However, the Academies Act 2010 includes a provision that extends the FOI Act to academy trusts. The FOI Act applies to academy trusts of maintained schools converting to academies from September 2010 and to academy trusts of existing academies from January 2011.”

Euro judgment strengthens hand of press versus police, Alexandra Zeevalkink, Press Gazette – 15 Sep 2010, Reports on the decision by the ECtHR to overturn a ruling against Dutch publisher Sanoma, which had forced its journalists to hand over photographs to the police. The Court said that to do so would compromise their right to freedom of expression under ECHR, art 10. For news story, see here.

Aritcles and discussion

The risks of privacy claims in court for damage and distress, Rosemary Jay (Masons), Privacy Laws & Business United Kingdom Newsletter P.L. & B.U.K.N. (2010) No.51 September pgs.1, 3-6, Considers the availability of compensation for damages and distress under the DPA 1998, resulting from breaches of its provisions. Assesses the number of cases being brought and the level of damages being awarded in the UK courts and compares this to the approach of the courts to similar types of damages claims not involving a financial loss, such as for spoilt holidays, abuse of state power, breach of privacy and wrongful discrimination.

FOI vs DP: the battle continues, Alison White Privacy Laws & Business United Kingdom Newsletter P.L. & B.U.K.N. (2010) No.51 September pgs.16-17.  Considers the definition of “personal data” and the question of whether anonymised information should be protected in the same way as personal data, in particular as to whether the personal information exemption under the FOI (Scotland) Act 2002, s 38 should apply to prevent its disclosure, with reference to case law on the use of childhood leukaemia statistics and on the disclosure of sex offender register entries.

Withholding the privilege, James Wingfield (Howard Kennedy), Law Society’s Gazette L.S.G. (2010) Vol.107 No.35 pg.10. Comments on the decision by the CJEU in Akzo Nobel Chemicals Ltd v European Commission (C-550/07) on whether communications between board members and in-house lawyers, seized during a dawn raid, were privileged documents. Considers the implications for companies of the finding that in-house lawyers are not protected by legal professional privilege.

Freedom of information (September), Ibrahim Hasan (IBA Solicitors), Law Society’s Gazette L.S.G. (2010) Vol.107 No.35 pg.18,20.  Considers when public authorities can refuse information requests based on the exemption under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, s 31, with reference to information commissioner decisions on whether the BBC could refuse to disclose information about the enforcement process for TV licences, in the public interest of maintaining effective enforcement, and on whether the police force could refuse to meet a request which would involve the disclosure of personal data of third parties.