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.
Saliyev v Russia (App No 35016/03), ECtHR – 21 Oct 2010. The case concerned the withdrawal from sale of copies of a municipally owned weekly newspaper at the request of the editor-in-chief on account of the politically sensitive content of an article – violation of ECHR, art 10. For the press release, see here.
Gray v UVW  EWHC 2367 (QB). QBD – 21 Oct 2010. The claimant had obtained an urgent interim injunction restraining UVW from publishing private information. During the course of obtaining the interim injunction, the claimant sought an anonymity order which was granted. Following the hearing, UVW gave written undertakings in relation to the private information and the parties sought a consent order. At the return date the claimant sought a stay of all further proceedings except for the purpose of carrying into effect the terms of the order and a continuation of the anonymity order. Held: the order staying the proceedings was granted. The alternative was to enter final judgment but the effect of this would be that the final injunction would not be binding on third parties. The parties could not consent to anonymity: the court has to consider the rights of the public under ECHR, arts 6 and 10. Since the question of whether the disclosure of the information would have been lawful no longer required resolving, it was necessary to protect UVW’s art 8 rights by ordering that UVW not be identified. For the same reasons, it was necessary to order that there be no report of the proceedings or their subject matters of any information which was not included in the judgment. The claimant’s case on why his identity should not be disclosed was weak: disclosure of the general nature of the information did not always engage a claimant’s private life and the possibility that the media might publish articles critical of an applicant cannot normally be a reason for anonymity. This was not a blackmail case, or an exceptional case where the claimant’s arts 2 or 3 rights might be interfered with. See Inforrm post here.
Statements in Open Court
Three statements in open court were read out on 26 October 2010 in actions brought by Haringey Social Worker, Sylvia Henry against the Evening Standard, the Daily Mirror and the Independent arising out of reports relating to her involvement in the “Baby P” case. The statements are reported in the Press Gazette.
Latest Regulatory Decisions
Latest decisions of the First-tier Tribunal, General Regulatory Chamber [Information Rights]
Stephen West v IC EA/2010/0120. FOI Act 2000, s 42 (legal professional privilege); EIR 2004, reg 12(5)(b) (legal professional privilege).
Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 168, 25 October 2010. This contains no Fairness and Privacy adjudications.
Press Complaints Commission: there are no adjudications this week.
Family court reporting reform: ‘Government right to wait’, PA Media Lawyer. Press Gazette – 26 Oct 2010. Reports that the president of the Family Division of the High Court, Sir Nicholas Wall, has said that the Government is correct to wait until completion of the family law review before deciding on court reporting reforms. The reforms, in Part II of the Children, Schools, Families Act 2010, were rushed through their Parliamentary stages in the closing days of the last Parliament, with most of the process taking place in the two-week “wash-up” period just before Parliament dissolved for the General Election. Although the then Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, had promised that the legislation would open up the family courts to more reporting and make them more transparent, journalists and legal observers have since warned that they are likely to have the opposite effect. Sir Nicholas told BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action last week that he did not believe the issue of reporting the family courts should be dealt with by legislation – it was a matter for negotiation.
What the custs mean for British Journalism: Brian Cathcart, Free Speech Blog, 26 October 2010, Argues that cuts to university funding mean that British journalism students are likely to be middle class and, as a result, the next generation of journalists will have the same social profile as the current one.
What conversation? Free speech and defamation law, Andrew T. Kenyon (Professor, University of Melbourne). Modern Law Review M.L.R. (2010) Vol.73 No.5 pgs.697-720. Analyses the rationales used in the US, the UK and Australia for permitting the principle of free speech to serve as a qualified defence to defamation, and particularly the notion of public speech as a “conversation” between opposing viewpoints. Considers the limitations of the conversation model as an account of multiple discourse in a pluralistic society, including its failure to take account of “counterpublics” who wish to express inflammatory views.