This is a Media and Information 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

Association Nouvelle Des Boulogne Boys v France (App No. 6468/09)(in French only). ECtHR – 8 Mar 2011 Admissibility decision – “offensive banner” case: dissolution of football supporters’ club justified. Complaints with respect to ECHR, arts 6, 11 were manifestly unfounded. There is a press release in English.

ZAM v CFW & Anor [2011] EWHC 476 (QB).  An interim injunction was granted in libel proceedings and under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 to prevent harassment by publication of defamatory allegations. The judge made an order for anonymisation. Authority provided that “in some circumstances, the exercise of one’s right of free speech can fall within the concept of harassment, provided the other necessary ingredients are present. For example, it would have to be classified as unreasonable and oppressive conduct.” It was submitted that if anonymity were not ordered, the fact that the claimant has had to seek relief would be capable of being made a story in its own right, and would be likely to lead to widespread speculation. It would be unfair to him (and his family) that, as the price of preventing the publication of allegations that he was entitled to prevent, they should be exposed to invasive speculation of this sort. In this particular case, the public interest in open justice is better served by granting anonymity to the claimant and revealing such detail about the subject matter of the action as is contained in this public judgment.  There is an Inforrm case comment.

MNB v News Group Newspapers ([2011] EWHC 528 (QB)).  Sharp J granted a privacy injunction to restrain the publication of a range of information which tended to identify the claimant and which related to the subject matter of the action. This information had been published by the “Sun” despite the fact that an injunction had been granted in DFT terms at an earlier hearing.  There is an Inforrm case comment.

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). Please download:

Recent Developments

Scottish Information Commissioner’s Annual Report 2010OSIC.  Report – 8 Mar 2011. Amongst other statistics in the report, the Commissioner found that a public authority had breached the law in some way in 65% of the decisions issued.

PCC January Commission meeting minutes published Press Complaints Commission – 9 Mar 2011

The Information Commissioner’s evidence to the Public Bill Committee on the Protection of Freedoms Bill.  Information Commissioner’s Office.  Evidence – 8 Mar 2011. The Information Commissioner welcomes many of the provisions contained in the Protection of Freedoms Bill. The ICO was consulted early and regularly on several of the proposals. The Bill also makes welcome provision for increasing the independence of the Information Commissioner.

Tugendhat: No public interest in identifying disabled boy. PA Media Lawyer. Press Gazette – 7 Mar 2011. Explains that Tugendhat J has ruled that a seven-year-old child born with severe disabilities after mistreatment by hospital staff should be the subject of an anonymity order because there was not sufficient public interest to justify naming him. The anonymity order was granted in the course of a hearing at which he approved a settlement of the youngster’s claim for personal injuries against Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.

UK Libel Reform Bill to be published ‘next week’.  Dominic Ponsford.  Press Gazette – 7 Mar 2011. Reports that the Libel Reform Bill is expected to be published as early as next week, according to the Libel Reform Campaign.

Articles and Discussion

Opening the Cabinet door: freedom of information and government policy making.  Robert Hazell (Professor, University College London) & David Busfield-Birch. [2011] Public Law 260-283.  Provides a comparison between the freedom of information regimes in the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand. Assesses the UK framework, against those in the other jurisdictions, in areas including exemptions for Cabinet records and both internal working documents and policy papers. Asks whether the regimes have caused a deterioration in the quality of official advice and ministerial deliberation because of fears of disclosure. Considers how open the UK regime compared to other countries.