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.
This has been yet another week of privacy frenzy. On Monday 16 May 2011 there was a hearing in the case of CTB v News Group Newspapers. Eady J handed down a judgment ( EWHC 1232 (QB)) which attracted huge press coverage – largely because one of the defendants, Imogen Thomas, did not approve of his analysis of her conduct (though she had not filed any evidence to set out her own version). We had a case comment on this blog by Edward Craven and a piece by Tim Lowles. At the same hearing, CTB’s lawyers made an application for specific disclosure in relation to the emails of Mr Kelvin Mackenzie, former editor of the “Sun” who they suspected of having breached the injunction. Judgment was reserved on this and another application. David Allen Green has a post on the case on his high quality New Statesman blog
On Thursday 19 May 2011, Mr Justice Tugendhat discharged the anonymity provision in the non-super injunction obtained by Sir Fred Goodwin (the anonymised public judgment was MNB v News Group Newspapers  EWHC 528 (QB)). This was, again, the subject of very wide media reporting including the Daily Telegraph: Sir Fred Goodwin: Whole story should be exposed, says peer, the Daily Mail: Why we DO have a right to know about Sir Fred’s affair: RBS chief had sexual relationship with married senior colleague on eve of £45billion collapse, the Sun: Fred the Bed! and the Daily Mirror: Sir Fred Goodwin: Former RBS chief’s cover blown as ban lifted on identifying him as having taken out ‘fling’ gagging order. There was also a report in the Press Gazette.
On Friday 20 May 2011, it was reported that a Norwich Pharmacal application had been made against Twitter by an anonymous claimant. This was discussed on the Media Blog. Roy Greenslade commented “A Twitter Writ? It was bound to happen“.
On the same day there was the publication of the much anticipated report of the Neuberger Committee on Superinjunctions. We had a post about the press conference at which it was launched and a post about the Report itself. We will discuss the press coverage later in the week. There are interesting blog posts about the report by David Allen Green and Adam Wagner (on the UK Human Rights Blog).
On Sunday the Glasgow based newspaper the “Sunday Herald” published photograph of a claimant who has the benefit of a privacy injunction in England. It has wisely ensured that the story is not available on the internet and has, presumably, taken steps to prevent hard copies being delivered south of the border. There is a story about the case in the “Guardian” with a discussion of the legal position here.
In this privacy frenzy, Roy Greenslade has been a rare voice of media sanity. He has an article in the Evening Standard under the headline “Editors protest too much about threat of privacy law“. He concludes
“the editors’ public crusade against a privacy law is bogus. They are already compromising their supposed right to intrude into people’s privacy through the offices of the PCC. Judges – please note – editors are engaging in a form of prior constraint voluntarily“.
We also draw attention to Steven Baxter’s post “In defence of privacy” on his New Statesman blog.
On Friday 20 May 2011, there was a further “Case Management Conference” in the phone hacking litigation heard by Mr Justice Vos. He decided that the trial should cover questions as to the nature and extent of any conspiracy to hack telephones and decided on 5 “lead cases”: Sky Andrew, Chris Bryant MP, Andy Gray, Kelly Hoppen and Jude Law. There were reports of the hearing in the Press Gazette, the Guardian and the Independent. The last headlined the claim made on behalf of Mr Law that a “very senior executive” knew of the phone hacking.
The Court was informed that, since the law hearing, new claims had been commenced by Jude Law, Dennis Rice (a former Mail on Sunday journalist, see the “Guardian” story here), Ulrike Jonsson (formerly employed as a News of the World columnist), Michelle Milburn, Mark Oaten, James Gardner and Mary-Ellen Field. The press have also mentioned a potential claim by Hugh Grant. It is also reported that former “Sun” editor Kelvin Mackenzie was a “phone hack target”.
On a lighter note, following the promotion of AFC Wimbledon to the Football League, freelance journalist Jon Slattery draws attention on his blog to the remarkable fact that the first goal for the club, 9 years ago, was scored by a certain Glenn Mulcaire – then known as “Trigger” and believed by team mates to work in security for News International.
Journalism and the PCC
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
We have already noted the judgment in CTB v News Group newspapers. On Thursday 19 May 2011 Tugendhat J heard applications in the privacy injunction cases of TSE v News Group and Goodwin v News Group Newspapers. Both hearings were held in public. In the course of the former, Tugendhat J drew attention to the fact that privacy cases did not arise out of the Human Rights Act. He reserved judgment in both cases.
As we have already mentioned, on Friday 20 May 2011, there was the second “Case Management Conference” in the phone hacking litigation.
From the Blogs
Siobhain Butterworth has a post entitled “Libel law: 10 reasons why the defamation bill needs more work” suggesting that, “close up” the Defamation Bill is looking “less and less attractive”. Her list of concerns is interesting, including a plea for the retention of jury trials.
Events and Television
At 4.15pm on Monday 23 May 2011 the “Joint Committee on the Defamation Bill” will hear evidence from more witnesses: Nicholas Lansman, Secretary General, Internet Service Providers Association, Mark Gracey, Chair of ISPA’s Content Liability Subgroup ,Internet Service Providers Association, Emma Ascroft, Director of Public Policy UK & Ireland, Yahoo, Dr Ian Walden, Professor of Information and Communications Law and head of the Institute of Computer and Communications Law in the Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London; Vicky Harris, Senior Legal Counsel in the Markets Division of Thomson Reuters, The Publishers Association, Tim Godfray, Chief Executive, The Booksellers Association and Professor Chris Frost, Chair of the National Union of Journalist’s Ethics Council, National Union of Journalists
Next Week in the Courts
A number of important judgments are to be handed down this week. First, at 10.00am on Monday 23 May 2011, Tugendhat J will hand down judgment in two privacy cases which were both heard on 19 May 2010: Goodwin v News Group Newspapers and TSE v News Group Newspapers.
Second, at 10.30am on the same date in Court 1 Foskett J will hand down judgment on the renewed application for permission to apply for judicial review by Lord Prescott, Chris Bryant MP and others (R (on the application of Bryant and ors) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis). The hearing was reported in the Press Gazette.
On Tuesday 24 May 2011, the Court of Appeal (the Master of the Rolls, Etherton and Gross LJJ) will hear the appeal in the privacy injunction case of KGM v News Group Newspapers.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
El Diwany v Ministry of Justice & the Police, Norway, heard 16 March 2011 (Sharp J).
R (on the application of Gaunt) v OFCOM, heard 11 May 2011 (Master of the Rolls, Toulson and Etherton LJJ).
Modi v Clarke and International Management Group (UK) Ltd v Clarke, heard 13 and 16 May 2011 (Tugendhat J)
Thornton v Telegraph Media Group Ltd heard 18 May 2011 (Tugendhat J)