Matrix Media Update – 16 October 2010

16 10 2010

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

Latest Cases

AMM v HXW [2010] EWHC 2457 (QB). QBD – 7 Oct 2010. The claimant, a married TV star, was granted an injunction against his ex-wife to prevent publication of a number of claims about his private life. An anonymity order was granted, with legal proceedings being heard in private. Publicity about the hearings would have defeated the purpose of the action. There was credible and uncontradicted evidence that publication of information by the ex-wife would be highly damaging to the claimant’s private life and to that of others, and damages would not be an adequate remedy.  For Press Gazette news story, see here.

Farrall v Kordowski [2010] EWHC 2436 (QB), QBD – 5 Oct 2010. A solicitor applied for an interim injunction restraining the publication of allegedly defamatory words on a website run by the respondent (“solicitorsfromhell.co.uk”). They included allegations that the applicant was “downright crooked” and other words alleging incompetence. Held: an interim injunction was granted. There was a prima facie case of libel and there remained a threat by the respondent to publish or further publish the words complained of; and if publication occurred the applicant would suffer injury which could not be fully compensated in damages.

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]

  • The Cabinet Office v IC EA/2010/0027. EIR 2004, reg 12(4)(e) (collective responsibility).

Recent Developments

Government delays family court reporting decision, PA Media Lawyer, Oliver Luft, Press Gazette – 12 Oct 2010. Reports that the Government is delaying a decision on whether to bring into force legislation which the Labour government had claimed would make the family courts more transparent and open to greater reporting.

Judge says ‘scandal’ of illegal downloads devastating business. Irish Times – 12 Oct 2010. Reports that illegal music downloading was described by an Irish High Court judge as a “scandal” yesterday as five major record companies failed in their action aimed at compelling internet service provider UPC to take action to prevent the practice. For judgment, see attached PDF file.

Government’s £6m climate change ads cleared, Mark Sweney, The Guardian – 11 Oct 2010. Ofcom says campaign came ‘close to limits of acceptability’ for public service messages, but did not break ban on political ads.  For Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, see here.

Data sharing code of practice. Information Commissioner’s Office. Consultation – 8 Oct 2010.  Seeks views on its new statutory code of practice on information sharing, which sets out a model of good practice for public, private and third sector organisations, and covers routine data sharing as well as one-off instances where a decision is made to release data to a third party. Consultation ends: 5 Jan 2011.  For Panopticon blog post on this, see here.

Company awarded internet libel damages, 5RB News – 7 Oct 2010. Notes that a UK distance learning company has been awarded £50,000 by the High Court, in an assessment of libel damages for a large number of separate allegations published in two discussion forum threads on an industry website.

FOI discussed at Lib Dem fringe meeting, Campaign for Freedom of Information. Summary – 6 Oct 2010. Notes that the Campaign held a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat conference on 18 Sep 2010. The meeting was addressed by Lord McNally, the Ministry of Justice minister responsible for freedom of information, and Sir Alan Beith MP, the chair of the House of Commons Justice Committee.

Council entitled to withhold property developer’s financial model: Bristol City distinguished, Robin Hopkins. Panopticon Blog – 6 Oct 2010. Comment on Bath & North East Somerset Council v IC EA/2010/0045, the latest application of the ‘commercial confidentiality’ exemption under EIR, reg 12(5)(e) to a request for information on agreements between a local authority and a property developer.

Re-Using FOI – the Conservatives claim FOI for business. FOI Man Blog – 4 Oct 2010. Discusses a speech from Francis Maude, Cabinet Office Minister, at the Conservative Party Conference. It includes a section on ‘Transparency’.


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One response

20 10 2010
FreeSpeechV3 Team

The public’s value through freedom of expression is without doubt for the best, particularly in an event requiring wide-spread community attention such as the proximity of thugs and abusers and public safety issues. Alas, this wonderful right is vulnerable to misuse. The expense ought not be paid by a spotless person or organization.
And yet, there are lots of antisocial jerks who manipulate this liberty with malicious intent. Many of these masked ignorant and arrogant miscreants have some variety of antisocial personality disorder (labeled psychopaths previously) or a related character disorder, & prompted solely by hate and revengeful, asocial glee. They have an insatiable compulsion to hurt or control others; they are actually driven by the suffering of others; the target’s futile pleadings is the air they breath, the clinical term is “narcissistic supply”. Regular people are unable guess what drives these individuals.
This distressing public problem has exploded in the past decade through anonymous online e-slander. In internet libel law suits where judges have issued orders directing that anonymous and anti-social blog authors can be unmasked publicly, such directives are oftentimes followed by protests by a small yet rambunctious collection of zealous people who consider that freedom of expression should be unconditional & that a utterer is not to be held responsible for his/her words, irrespective as to accuracy or deceptiveness of the utterances. I imagine that should these protesting pundits were to observe the paralyzing impact of a internet libel attack and the physical, vocational, emotional, & social wellness of targets or their loved ones; they might think twice before being as boisterous in their opposition.
An inherent distinction of anonymous online libel is that it has less credibility if critically considered by well-informed and open-minded third parties. Nevertheless, there is a newfangled dynamic with the challenge of malicious & anonymous online authors. Although these statements may smell of shenanigans, if the target is to be assessed for a job, consulting applications, Girl Guide leadership (or a prom partner), the person conducting the background check will probably consider the potential public relations exposure associated with attaching to the victim. Whilst the prospective employer is probably able to see through the fulmination, the decision maker needs to consider what their customers and partners will believe if they are not as sophisticated & open-minded.

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