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 topic of anonymity and super-injunctions has, again, been in the news with the Court of Appeal removing the anonymity of Mr Howard Donald (see our post here) and Mr Justice Tugendhat refusing a second attempt to anonymise Mr JIH (who nevertheless remains anonymous pending his application for permission to appeal) (see JIH v News Group (No.2)).
Both JIH and Ntuli are featured in the “Latest News” section of the Judiciary website. The “Hold the Front Page” site has a piece from Nigel Hanson of Foot Anstey on the subject, which concludes by saying that “The press will welcome the fact that a couple of media-specialist judges have been painstakingly trimming wide reporting restrictions to what is deemed strictly necessary”.
Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridge gave the Andrew Olle Media Lecture in Sydney on 19 November 2010. The lecture was entitled “The Splintering of the Fourth Estate”. One of his topics was why Twitter matters for media organisations – including a list of 15 things that Twitter does effectively.
The Internet Service Providers’ Association, which represents providers of Internet services in the UK, has sent an open letter to the Prime Minister which makes four proposals for reform to protect discussion on the internet. The letter is discussed by Dr Evan Harris on his Guardian blog. This is an important topic which will be the subject of a further post.
The “News of the World” phone hacking story continues to make headlines. This week it was the decision of Mr Justice Mann to order former investigator Glenn Mulcaire to answer questions on his contacts at the paper. The case was the subject of a post earlier this week. We understand that Mr Mulcaire has been given permission to appeal so his answers are likely to be somewhat delayed. In his “Guardian” blog Roy Greenslade suggests that although there is “no single smoking gun”, former editor Andy Coulson may still fall by “scattergun”.
The press in India has reported a settlement in the English Courts this week. The “Times” has apparently agreed to pay damages of £30,000 to the Lavasa Corporation in respect of an allegation that while constructing the Lavasa City project, Lavasa had cut down millions of trees, benefited from the fraudulent land procurement and had used armed employees to force farmers in the area to sell their land.
The “Sun” has also agreed to settle a libel claim by Jonathan Laker, a security guard at Heathrow Airport, over a front page article in The Sun which falsely alleged that Mr Laker had abused his position as a security guard by surreptitiously taking a naked scan of his female colleague. The apology is here. There is a news item on the 5 RB website.
Journalism and the PCC
According to Tabloid Watch, the PCC has rejected a complaint against the Daily Mail concerning a story about the removal of an extractor fan which was falsely stated to be because the smell of frying bacon ‘offends’ Muslims. The decision was, apparently, based on the fact that when the article was read with the headline, readers would not be misled. However, as Roy Greenslade points out on his blog, the comments on the article show that the overwhelming majority of readers were, indeed, misled.
The PCC Watch blog this week has a post on “What journalists think of the PCC”. Relying on a Twitter exchange between the Daily Express’s chief political commentator and the PCC, it is suggested that journalists have a worrying lack of understanding of what the PCC is and what it does.
Tabloid Watch has a post about the continuing inaccuracy of stories in the “Daily Star” and the apparent lack of impact of adverse PCC rulings on the paper.
In the Courts
There were judgments in two more privacy cases this week. Firstly and most importantly, the decision of the Court of Appeal in Ntuli v Donald on 16 November 20010 – discussed in a post earlier this week. Second, the decision of Mr Justice Tugendhat on 18 November 2010 in JIH v News Group (No.2) refusing a renewed anonymity application resulting from alleged breaches of the first order in the case.
There was also the decision of Mr Justice Mann on 17 November 2010 Phillips v News Group Newspapers which is mentioned above.
Media and Freedom of Expression Law in Other Jurisdictions
The Irish Times reports that in the case of Kinsella v Kenmare Resources the plaintiff was awarded a record €10 million damages by a High Court jury after they found he was defamed by a press release issued by the company about an “incident” in Mozambique in which he sleepwalked naked to a female colleague’s bedroom. The case was discussed in our post yesterday, from Cearta.ie blog.
The case of Nesbitt v Neufeld 2010 BCSC 1605 the Supreme Court of British Columbia was a claim for damages brought by Ms Neufeld against her former partner arising out of emails, webpages, a facebook page and a You Tube video sent after he had obtained private information from her personal computer. It was held that Dr Nesbitt disclosed private material to third parties in a manner which defamed Ms Neufeld. Damages of Can$40,000 were awarded. There is a news report of the case here.
In McMahon v John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd  NSWCA 308 the New South Wales Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal against the refusal of an application to file a fourth further amended statement of claim
In Con Ange v Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd & Ors  NSWSC 1200 the New South Wales Supreme Court made an order for the plaintiff to be cross-examined on his affidavit verifying his discovery list. The action is for defamation and the defendant, the publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald seeks to justify allegations, inter alia, that the plaintiff is a pornographer and a distributor of illegal hard-core pornography.
The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (“CIPPIC”) has filed its “factum” in the forthcoming Supreme Court case of Crookes v Newton (see our post here). CIPPIC is asking the Supreme Court of Canada to adopt a ‘freedom to hyperlink’, arguing that imposing liability for merely linking to defamatory content will chill free speech and online innovation. The CIPPIC News page is here.
The “Court” blog – which features serious and thoughtful discussion of the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada has a post on the recent decision in Globe and Mail v. Canada (Attorney General) (2010 SCC 41).
US Law and Media News
Once again, this will be the subject of a separate post.
No events have been reported to us.
Judith Townend’s consistently interesting Meeja Law blog has a post about the “Chandler super-injunction” quoting the BBC World News Editor’s comment that there is no public interest in breaking the law, simply to claim a scoop.
On the topical subject of the forthcoming Royal Wedding, Roy Greenslade has an interesting post about Kate Middleton and the paparazzi, referring to an Evening Standard article on the different views of photographers on this subject.
Next Week in the Courts
On Monday 22 November 2010 Mr Justice Eady – who is now hearing jury list cases after his 4 month product liability trial was adjourned – is hearing two applications in the case of Lait v Evening Standard.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
Clift v Slough BC heard 23 and 24 June 2010 (Ward, Thomas and Richards LJJ).
Spiller v Joseph heard 26 and 27 July 2010 (Lords Phillips, Rodger, Walker and Brown and Sir John Dyson).
Bowker v Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, heard 21 October 2010 (Sharp J).
Berezovsky -v- Vladimir Terluk & anr heard 9 November 2010 (Mummery and Sedley LJJ)
Cambridge v Makin, heard 8 to 12 November 2010 (Tugendhat J)