Law and Media Round Up – 18 April 2011

18 04 2011

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.

News

We begin, this week, with privacy injunctions.   There were two involving the media in the past week.  The first, NEJ v Helen Wood, was as the Press Gazette reports, granted on  9 April 2011 by Mr Justice Blake with the defendant then anonymised as “BDZ”.   However, on Wednesday 13 April 2011, the injunction was varied by Mr Justice King on the application of the “Sun” to permit the disclosure of the defendant’s name.  A public judgment will be released at a later date.  The Evening Standard and the Independent had news stories about the case.

The claimant, “NEJ”,  was described as a “well known actor” and the day after the variation the “Sun” published  a “kiss and tell” story by Ms Wood – formerly known for her revelations about Wayne Rooney – but with the identifying details of the actor omitted.

Secondly, an injunction was obtained by a “top premiership footballer” to prevent the publication of details of an alleged affair with Ms Imogen Thomas, a former Miss Wales and Big Brother Contestant.  Among other newspapers, the Telegraph reported on the story.   This matter is due back before the Courts on Wednesday, 20 April 2011.

We have had a number of posts this week about the “phone hacking” affair – with a news report by Judith Townend on Friday’s Case Management Conference before Mr Justice Vos.  Once again, events moved at a rapid pace – with the arrest of a third journalist, the issue of a number of new claims and the judge’s decision to have a trial of “generic issues” and test cases in late 2011 or early 2012.  David Cameron’s remarks about the affair in an interview are discussed – from slightly different perspectives – in the “Independent” and the “Daily Mail

There are a number of interesting articles and blog posts on the subject.  Charlie Brooker, on “Guardian” Comment is Free argues that “The real victims of the phone hacking scandal are tabloid hacks“.  Keith Mathieson has a piece on the RPC Privacy Blog entitled “Phone-hacking is not a hanging offence” – suggesting that the damages might not be as substantial as some have suggested.  The now intermittent Jack of Kent blog discusses the significance of the News of the World “apology” correctly pointing out that “in legal terms, it’s not that important“.

The Press Gazette reports that football agent Kia Joorabchian has filed a claim at the High Court over a story that appeared in The Daily Telegraph about Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez.

The Meeja Law blog’s “Midweek media law mop up” is entitled ” Third phone hacking arrest; HuffPo bloggers’ legal row; and anonymous injunctions listed”

Journalism and the PCC

The Greenslade blog notes that  PCC Chair, Baroness Buscombe, has replied to the letter sent to her Mark Lewis in which he called on her to condemn the News of the World over phone-hacking.  She said that he had “mischaracterised” her attitude “it brings shame upon the whole journalistic profession. I condemn all those at the News of the World who have been involved in it.”  The story is also reported in the Press Gazette.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

We are not aware of any Statements in Open Court having made in the past week.

In the Courts

On 12 April 2011, the Court of Appeal (Master of the Rolls, Leveson and Pitchford LJJ) gave judgment in the remarkable case of Ambrosiadou v Coward ([2011] EWCA Civ 409).  The Court allowed the appeal and granted the injunction on the narrow basis that it was

“In the absence of an injunction, it would seem that there would be nothing to prevent a person, to whom an ineptly redacted copy of the May application notice was sent, actually reading the redacted material, and then publishing any information contained therein“. [38]

In other words, the injunction was granted not to restrain any action of the defendant but purely in order to enable it to take “Spycatcher” effect against third parties.  This is an interesting development, the consequences of which remain to be worked out.  The Court reiterated the importance of appeal hearings taking place in public.

Media and Freedom of Expression Law in Other Jurisdictions

In Israel, it is reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara filed a libel claim on Tuesday at the Jerusalem District Court seeking NIS 3.5 million (£630,000) in damages from Channel 10 television and its reporters Raviv Drucker and Mikki Rosenthal over claims that the couple claimed expenses for a trip abroad twice- the so called “Bibi Tours” allegations.  Netanyahu’s lawyer, David Shimron, said after the suit was filed that “never since the 1950s, has there been such a grievous case of libel.”

The debate on libel reform in Jamaica (which we have posted about before).  The “Gleaner” had an editorial concerning the suggestion by Senator Norman Grant that there should be a debate about whether legislators should continue to enjoy the protection of absolute privilege.  In later editorial the “Gleaner” commended the views of Senator K D Knight who said when the reform proposals were being debated that he was “having a difficulty … in terms of presumption of a good reputation for public officials.”

In South Africa the Constitutional Court handed down judgment in the important libel case of The Citizen 1978 Pty Ltd v McBride [2011] ZACC 11 dealing with operation of the defence of “fair comment” (in South Africa renamed “protected comment”.  We will have a post on this case later in the week.

US Law and Media News

Once again, this will (eventually) be the subject of a separate post

From the Blogs

The Guardian’s “Butterworth and Bowcott on Law”  blog has a post by Siobhain Butterworth entitled “Privacy online – it’s complicated” concerning the plans announced by the EU justice commissioner to modernise data protection laws, including a ‘right to be forgotten’.  She notes that

Among those who should keep a watchful eye on the right to be forgotten, when the legislative proposals are introduced this summer, are news organisations. If the right to be forgotten becomes law, web archives may come under attack from people bent on cleaning up their reputations including those who previously agreed to be photographed or interviewed for newspaper articles or television programmes”.

Eoin O’Dell’s Cearta.ie blog has a post about the “Press Council” in Ireland, raising the question as to whether self-regulation is working and concluding that, overall, the answer must be “yes”: “Within the remit afforded to the Ombudsman and Press Council, they are working very well indeed.”

Events

No events for next week have been reported to us.

Next Week in the Courts

Mr Justice Tugendhat has a busy day on 18 April 2011.   First, he will give judgment in two cases.  At 9.30am, in the case of The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis & anr v Times Newspapers and at 10.00am in the case of Aspion v Daniel.  Then, at 10.30am he will hear an application to commit in the case of ZAM v CFW & anr – a case which we have posted about here and here)The application indicates that it is being alleged that the injunction was not complied with.

On 19 April 2011 judgment will be given by the Court of Appeal (Ward, Laws and Moore-Bick LJJ) in the privacy case of ETK v News Group.

The last day of the legal term is Wednesday, 20 April 2011.

Reserved Judgments

The following reserved judgment after a public hearing remains outstanding:

El Diwany v Ministry of Justice & the Police, Norway, heard 16 March 2011 (Sharp J).


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