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

Gray v News Group [2011] EWHC 349 (Ch) – 25 Feb 2011.  Application for an order for the provision of information against Glenn Mulcaire,  who in turn sought to rely on his privilege against self-incrimination.  The Judge said that there was “abundant evidence” that Mr Gray’s voicemails were intercepted and a “strong inference” that misuse was made of the confidential information.  The Judge made declarations that Mr Mulcaire is not excused by the privilege against self-incrimination from answering any question put to him in the proceedings. Mr Mulcaire was also ordered to answer requests for further information on whether his interception of the royal victims and other admitted victims was at the instruction of NGN and whether that information was passed to the newspaper.

Munim Abdul & Ors v DPP [2011] EWHC 247 (Admin) – 16 Feb 2011. Prosecution for using threatening, abusive or insulting words within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress (contrary to the Public Order Act 1986, s 5), was not disproportionate and therefore a breach of their ECHR, art 10 rights. Discussing the relationship between s 5 and art 10, the court held that it must be recognised that legitimate protest can be offensive at least to some.

DEFRA v Information Commissioner & Anor [2011] UKUT 39 AAC. UTT – 2 Feb 2011. Considers whether an authority can decide that another exemption, not already relied upon, is relevant to an FOI request on appeal

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]

  • Thomas W Gibson v IC EA/2010/0095: FOI Act 2000, s 40 (personal data).

PCC Adjudication

A woman v Take a Break, Press Complaints Commission Decision – 17 Feb 2011. Complaints alleging breach of clauses 3 (privacy) and 11 (victims of sexual assault) of the Code of Practice.  There is a news story here.

Recent Developments

Legal bid to unmask Mail Online commenters fails, PA Media Lawyer. Press Gazette – 23 Feb 2011. Reports that, in the case of Clift v Clarke, the applicant has failed in a bid to obtain an order forcing Mail Online to disclose the identities of two people who made comments about her on the newspaper website.  There is a One Brick Court case note about this case.

Eric Pickles: Citizen journalists and bloggers should be let in to public council meetings. Department for Communities & Local Government, Press Release – 23 Feb 2011. Suggests that Councils should open up their public meetings to local news ‘bloggers’ and routinely allow online filming of public discussions as part of increasing their transparency according to Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles.

Sikh Holyman libel tourism case to be thrown out, Dominic Ponsford. Press Gazette – 23 Feb 2011.  Notes that Indian religious leader His Holiness Sant Baba Jeet Singh Ji Maharaj had until yesterday to pay £250,000 as a security for costs before a planned Court of Appeal hearing due to take place in March – and that no money has been paid.

Real Climate Faces Libel Suit, The Guardian, 25 February 2011.  Reports that Real Climate, a prominent blog run by climate scientists, may be sued by a controversial journal in response to allegations that the its peer review process is “shoddy.”

First details of Commission data protection action against UK are revealed.  Out-Law.Com reports that Details of the European Commission’s objections to the Data Protection Act (DPA) have been revealed for the first time. A document has been published outlining why the Commission thinks the DPA fails to implement the EU’s Data Protection Directive.

Articles and Discussion

Leak house, Jean-Yves Gilg. Solicitors Journal S.J. (2011) Vol.155 No.7 pgs.14-15.  Reports on the approach taken by Gill Phillips as in-house counsel for The Guardian when the newspaper first obtained the military logs and diplomatic cables published on the WikiLeaks website.

Campbell’s soup, James Harrison & Clare Arthurs (Manches LLP). Solicitors Journal S.J. (2011) Vol.155 No.7 pgs.16-17. Discusses MGN Ltd v UK (App No. 39401/04) on whether the requirement that the defendant newspaper pay the claimant’s costs in a privacy case under a conditional fee agreement that included success fees of 95 and 100% was disproportionate and breached the newspaper’s right to freedom of expression under ECHR, art 10.

The Article 8 rights of sex offenders, David Hooper, RPC Privacy Blog, 24 February 2011.  Discusses the “populist wave directed at the European Court of Human Rights and European judges generally” resulting from the decision of the Supreme Court in R (F and FC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] UKSC 17