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

Allen v Bloomsbury Publishing plc & Ors [2010] EWHC 2560 (Ch), Ch D – 14 Oct 2010.  Claimant alleging that fourth Harry Potter book reproducing substantial part of book previously written by the claimant. The defendants applying for summary judgment of claim — whether claimant having real prospect of establishing that second defendant author having access to the earlier work when writing fourth book and having copied from it — whether claimant having real prospect of establishing that similarities relied upon amounting to a substantial part of the earlier work — whether application should be granted.

Taylor v Associated Newspapers Ltd [2010] EWHC 2494 (QB), QBD – 11 Oct 2010.  The applicant newspaper publisher applied for summary judgment against the respondent on his claim in a libel action, or in the alternative for the claim to be struck out as an abuse of the process of the court. Held: the applicant had failed to establish that the claimant had no real prospect of success in his action. The application for summary judgment was dismissed. The applicant’s case was that the difference between the meaning complained of and what admittedly occurred was so narrow that there was no real or substantial tort. But what the claimant’s witness statements showed to have admittedly occurred was not so clear as to enable the court to say that the proceedings were an abuse of process. It could not be said that on the claimant’s own admissions he had behaved in such a way that it would be an abuse of process for him to seek vindication in respect of allegations which he denied.

Bernard Gray v UVX [2010] EWHC 2367 (QB) – 21 October 2010.  The applicant obtained an “out of hours” a privacy injunction against the defendant.  On the return date, the judge criticised the lawyers for the claimant for non-compliance with undertakings and refused to continue the anonymisation of the claimant: see the Inforrm blog post.

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]

  • Dr Susan Williams v IC EA/2010/0100. FOI Act 2000, s 27(1)(a).
  • Bath and North East Somerset Council v IC EA/2010/0045. EIR 2004, reg 12(5)(e) (confidential information):
  • The Cabinet Office v IC EA/2010/0027. EIR 2004, reg 12(4)(e) (collective responsibility):

Adjudication – Press Complaints Commission v Express Newspapers.  PCC Decision Notice – 19 Oct 2010. Complaint alleging breach of clause 15 (witness payments in criminal trials) of the Code of Practice.

Recent Developments

Binyam Mohamed ‘press gagging attempt fails’, Press Gazette – 11 Oct 2010. Notes that Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed lost a legal bid to prevent the press from revealing he had been granted permanent residency in the UK.  For the news story see Press Gazette.

Cabinet minutes released for the first time. UK FoI Blog – 13 Oct 2010, Notes that the Government has complied with an Information Tribunal ruling and disclosed the minutes of the 1986 cabinet meeting where Michael Heseltine resigned over the Westland affair.

Articles and Discussion

Flood v Times Newspapers Ltd. Oliver Smith (Michael Simkins LLP).  Entertainment Law Review Ent. L.R. (2010) Vol.21 No.8 pgs.311-313.  Comments on Flood v Times Newspapers Ltd [2010] EWCA Civ 804 in a police officer’s libel action against a newspaper for reporting on a police investigation in progress into alleged corruption. Discusses whether the defence of qualified privilege applied in principle to reporting on press statements by the police and to other details about the specific allegations, obtained from confidential sources. Considers the effect of publication of the newspaper article on the newspaper’s website.

Unilateral variation of broadcasting spectrum licences – Data Broadcasting International Ltd and Simpleactive Ltd v Ofcom, Katrina Dick & Dee Miller, Entertainment Law Review Ent. L.R. (2010) Vol.21 No.8 pgs.313-315.  Comments on R (Data Broadcasting International Ltd) v Ofcom [2010] EWHC 1243 (Admin) on two broadcasters’ application for judicial review of Ofcom’s decision to reduce the geographical scope of their licences because of the digital switchover. Discusses whether the terms of the additional services licences allowed Ofcom to vary the licences in such a way, whether the licensees were entitled to damages for breach of contract, and whether Ofcom violated their property rights.

Khader v Aziz and Henderson v Hackney LBC: the value of the qualified privilege defence in defamation claims Anna Copeman (Denton Wilde Sapte LLP), Entertainment Law Review Ent. L.R. (2010) Vol.21 No.8 pgs.318-320. Comments on Khader v Aziz [2010] EWHC 1651 (QB) and the Queen’s Bench Division judgment in Henderson v Hackney LBC on libel actions where the defendants successfully raised the defence of qualified privilege, and the claimants tried unsuccessfully to prove that the statements were made maliciously.