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

MacKay & BBC Scotland v UK (App No. 10734/05) 7 Dec 2010.  A complaint by the applicants about not being able to challenge a court order prohibiting reporting on a criminal trial – violation of ECHR, Art 13 in conjunction with Art 10. For press release, see ECtHR Press Release.

Público – Comunicação Social, SA & Ors v Portugal (App No. 39324/07) 7 Dec 2010.  The application concerned a judgment ordering the newspaper Público and four of its staff to pay €75,000 to Sporting Club de Portugal for defamation following the publication of an article claiming that the football club owed substantial sums in social-security contributions – violation of ECHR, Art 10.  For press release, see ECtHR Press Release.  The judgment available in French only.

Poyraz v Turkey (App No. 15966/06) 7 Dec 2010.  Concerned the civil judgment against the applicant for defamation on the basis of a report which he had compiled as chief inspector of the Ministry of Justice and which had been leaked to the press, concerning allegations of professional misconduct on the part of a senior judge – violation of ECHR, arts 6, 10.  For press release see ECtHR Press Release.  Judgment available in French only.

XJA v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2010] EWHC 3174 (QB). 3 Dec 2010.  The Court was asked to approve a consent order agreed between the parties in an action in which the claimant had sought an injunction restraining the defendant newspaper group from publishing certain information. Held: The Court approved the consent order. It was necessary to continue the order that the claimant should not be identified; disclosure of the claimant’s identity would be an unjustifiable interference with his private and family life, which outweighs the rights of the public under ECHR, art 10 and the need for open justice.

Demirbaş & Ors v Turkey (App Nos. 1093/08 & Ors) 1 Dec 2010  The case concerned the question of the standing before the Court of a municipal authority represented by individuals, namely, members constituting the municipal council – by a majority declared the application inadmissible. The applicants were charged with breaking the law on the adoption and use of the Turkish alphabet and prejudicing the treasury by printing books and brochures. A national court also dissolved the Municipal Council that the applicants were elected to. The applicants alleged in particular that the dissolution of the Municipal Council had infringed their freedom of expression as individuals. They relied on ECHR, art 10.  For press release, see ECtHR Press Release

R (SSHD) v HM Coroner for Inner West London [2010] EWHC 3098 (Admin) 30 Nov 2010.  The Secretary of State applied for judicial review of a decision of the coroner not to conduct part of the inquests into the deaths of the victims of the 7 Jul 2005 London bombings as a closed hearing excluding the bereaved families and their legal representatives. Held: the construction of the Coroners Act 1988, r 17 adopted by the coroner was correct. Rule 17 provided that whilst inquests should be held in public the coroner could exclude “the public” if it was in the interests of national security. Rule 17 applied equally to inquests with or without a jury. It could not have been contemplated that a properly interested person and his legal representative would be excluded whilst a jury saw and heard the closed material. The fact that inquests were inquisitorial did not diminish their context as essentially judicial procedures which were governed by the principle of open justice except to the extent that the principle was limited by statutory provision.

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]

  • Rob Edwards v IC EA/2010/0056. FIO Act 2000, ss 27 (international relations), 36 (prejudicial to effective conduct of public affairs).
  • Christopher Lamb v IC EA/2010/0108. FIO Act 2000, s 44 (prohibited by enactment): Please download:
  • Julian Shephard v IC EA/2010/0094. EIR Regulations 2004.
  • Jaine Wild v IC EA/2010/0132. FOI Act 2000, s 40 (personal data).

Statements in Open Court

Piquet v Renault F1 Team Limited, 7 Dec 2010.  A statement which stated that the Renault Formula One team has agreed to pay substantial damages and court costs to former driver Nelson Piquet and his father.  The Statement in Open Court, the Apology and a statement from the claimant’s lawyers can be found here.

Lord Triesman v UTV Media (GB), 9 Dec 2010. A statement which stated that former Football Association chairman Lord Triesman  had accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages over a “completely untrue” claim that he had been accused of being involved in corruption.  An article in the Independent can be found here.

Recent Developments

Apology to tennis psychologist: The Times has apologised and paid damages to sport psychologist Roberto Forzoni after reporting that he had to leave his job at the Lawn Tennis Association because players had lost confidence in him.  The Press Gazette report is here.

Carter-Ruck defends Hardeep Singh on CFA. Freelance journalist Hardeep Singh is being defended in his high-profile libel fight against an Indian holy man by Carter Ruck acting on a CFA. There is a Press Gazette report here

Articles and Discussion

Data retention. James Goudie QC. Panopticon blog – 6 Dec 2010. Notes that the Data Retention Directive (Dir 2006/24/EC) requires public electronic communications providers to retain traffic, location and subscriber data for the purpose of the investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime. The Directive has been undergoing an evaluation process that seeks to assess its application by Member States, and its impact on businesses and consumers. The aim is also to establish whether the Directive is proportionate in relation to the law enforcement benefits it yields, the costs for the market, and the impact on fundamental rights, in particular the rights to privacy and the protection of personal data.

“Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill”. James Goudie QC. Panopticon blog – 6 Dec 2010. Discusses the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, introduced in the House of Commons on 30 Nov 2010, which is “replete with requirements for the provision of information”.

Media (December). Amber Melville-Brown (Withers).  Law Society’s Gazette L.S.G. (2010) Vol.107 No.46 pgs.14-15 Discusses Ntuli v Donald [2010] EWCA Civ 1276 on whether to discharge a pre-publication injunction granted against the former-lover of a member of the band Take That restraining her from disclosing any “intimate, personal or sexually explicit details” about the relationship or the existence of the proceedings and granting anonymity to the respondent.

Parties may appeal against Decision Notices in their favour. Robin Hopkins. Panopticon blog – 2 Dec 2010. Discusses Shepard v IC and West Sussex County Council GIA/1681/2010 involved the Commissioner upholding the appellant’s complaint against the local authority, and issuing a decision notice in his favour. That notice required the authority to search for specified information and to provide it to the Claimant if found. The authority informed the appellant that its search had been fruitless. Apparently therefore, it had complied with the decision notice, but the appellant received no information.

Tribunal’s strike-out of ‘academic’ appeals . Robin Hopkins. Panopticon blog – 2 Dec 2010. In Edwards v IC and the MoD EA/2010/0056, the Tribunal has exercised its power to strike out a party’s case under the Tribunal Procedure (First-Tier Tribunal) (GRC) Rules 2009. This was done partly on a lack of reasonable prospects of success, and partly on jurisdictional grounds: some of the appellant’s grounds of complaint invited the Tribunal to “monitor or influence” the way in which the Commissioner had carried out his statutory duties, or the way in which the public authority had done so. The Tribunal has no jurisdiction over such matters.