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.
On 12 February the “Guardian” published an interesting conversation between Max Mosley and Roy Greenslade on the subject of privacy and public interest. The discussion centres on Mr Mosley’s claim that there should be prior notification of privacy invading stories. According to Professor Greenslade the proposal
“would inhibit tabloid newspapers, and we wouldn’t necessarily feel too bad about that. But I would be concerned that as a journalist you would be constantly looking over your shoulder, wondering at what stage do we approach this person, how much evidence do we need?”
It is difficult to see quite what is wrong with this: why shouldn’t journalists be giving careful consideration as to whether they can justify their stories in the public interest? Mr Mosley has the last word in the piece.
“I don’t see that anyone has the right to effectively put someone in the stocks, just because your sex life isn’t to an editor’s taste. That isn’t consistent with modern, secular, liberal society”.
We have already posted this week on the police statement about their new investigation of phone hacking and of the disclosure of yet more victims. The “Daily Mail” reported on Thursday that a hardcore of 100 phone hack targets are expected to be discovered but that 3,000 potential targets will be contacted. This is also discussed in the Press Gazette.
We draw attention, once again, to the Meeja Law “Mid Week Media Mop Up” (moved from Mondays) .
Journalism and the PCC
In January 2011 The Columbia Journalism Review published an interview with PCC Director Stephen Abell which has recently come to our attention. The Press Complaints Commission has published guidance to newspapers and magazines on how to handle corrections in their digital format. It follows the recommendations of a working group established by the commission to look at the issue. The PCC Watch blog has a post on the issue. The Full Facts.org blog also discusses the guidance, suggesting that it is a welcome improvement on what it experienced before the guidance was issued.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
Peter Aamer, a former finance chief who believed he was being blamed publicly for the cash crisis at the University of Cumbria has won “significant” damages and an apology. There is a report in the local “News and Star”.
We are not aware of any Statements in Open Court or published apologies in libel actions in England and Wales this week.
In the Courts
We draw attention to reserved judgments of Mr Justice Tugendhat. First he gave a further judgment in the long running Thornton v Telegraph Media Group saga – refusing the defendant permission to amend its defence to a include the contention that the words which Thornton complained about were comment, not fact, and therefore could not be described as false ( EWHC 159 (QB)). There is a story about the case in the Press Gazette, a 5RB case comment and one from 1 Brick Court.
Second, on Monday 7 February 2011, Mr Justice Tugendhat gave judgment in McKeown v Attheraces Ltd ( EWHC 179 (QB)), refusing to strike out a remarkable libel claim by a former jockey. There is a 1 Brick Court case comment.
On Wednesday 9 February 2011, the Court of Appeal gave judgment in Brady v Norman ( EWCA Civ 107) dismissing the claimant’s appeal in a case where he has been refused permission to extend the limitation period. There is a 1 Brick Court case comment.
Media and Freedom of Expression Law in Other Jurisdictions
The High Court of Kiribati has given judgment in the case of Mwemwenikarawa v Timeon  KIHC 8; High Court Civil Case 132 of 2010 (21 January 2011), a claim by the former Minister of Finance against a fellow MP. The judge assessed damages in the sum of Aus$55,000
In Fagan v. Andrews, 2011 NLCA 15 the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador dismissed the defendant’s appeal against the award of Can$15,000 in a libel action arising out of the publication of a defamatory letter.
In Zimbabwe a High Court judge has awarded former Information Minister and Zanu-PF Politburo member, Professor Jonathan Moyo US$5,000 in defamation charges against Vice President John Nkomo.
It is reported that the premier league footballer Eidur Gudjohnsen (previously with Chelsea, Barcelona and Tottenham, but now with Fulham) won damages of 400,000 ISK, (£2,130) in the Reykjavík Municipal Court in privacy damages in respect of an article about his private financial affairs.
US Law and Media News
Once again, this will be the subject of a separate post
No events for next week have been reported to us.
Next Week in the Courts
On Monday 14 February 2011, in the Queens Bench division Mr Justice Supperstone will give judgment in the privacy case of POI v A Person Known as “Lina” (No.2) and, in the Chancery division Mr Justice Vos will hear the adjourned applications for the provision of information in the cases of Gray v NGN and Mulcaire and Coogan v NGN and Glenn Mulcaire
On Thursday 17 February 2011 there is a hearing in the “phone hacking” case of Hoppen v Evans and News International Supply Company Ltd in the Queens Bench Division.
On Friday 18 February 2011 there is a hearing in the “phone hacking” case of Andrew v NGN and Glenn Mulcaire in the Chancery Division
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
Bowker v Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, heard 21 October 2010 (Sharp J).
Hunt v Evening Standard heard 3 February 2011 (Tugendhat J)
Ashcroft v Independent News and Media Ltd heard 3 and 4 February 2011 (Eady J)