Law and Media Round Up – 30 May 2011

30 05 2011

Wordle: UntitledIn 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

This was another week of privacy injunction madness – overshadowing some important developments in the phone hacking saga.  Last Monday saw five hearings in privacy actions. At 10.30am there were judgments from Mr Justice Tugendhat in TSE v News Group and Goodwin v News Group.  At 2.00pm Mr Justice Eady handed down judgment in CTB v News Group (No.2), dismissing an application to discharge the injunction. He then heard a further application to discharge – which was dismissed at 3.00pm. Shortly thereafter Mr Hemming named the footballer covered by the injunction (see Head of Legal’s hard hitting post “Hemming does his worst”). At 4.00pm Mr Justice Tugendhat heard an application in the case of Goodwin v News Group (concerning an allegation of contempt of court against Associated Newspapers). At 5.00pm Mr Justice Tugendhat heard another application for discharge of the injunction in CTB v News Group. That application was, again, rejected (see his three paragraph judgment [2011] EWHC 1334 (QB)). The third paragraph of this judgment has a blog post all of its own by David Allen Green.

The actions of Mr Hemming led to an explosion of media coverage on Tuesday 24 May 2011. None of the press articles properly engaged with the obvious issue as to how any of this served the public interest. In contrast, as a number of online commentators pointed out (including Mark Thomson on this blog), the effect of the sustained “Twitter campaign” was to boost the commercial interests of the tabloid media and, of course, Twitter with serious collateral damage to the rule of law.

There were two important “phone hacking” developments.  First on Monday 23 May 2011 Mr Justice Foskett gave Chris Bryant MP and others permission to bring an application for judicial review against the Metropolitan Police (Bryant & Ors) v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2011] EWHC 1314 (Admin)). We had a post about the decision and it received some media coverage among the wall to wall “twittergate” coverage, for example in the “Independent” and the “Daily Mail“.   The disparity between the amount of coverage of the two issues led that keen media observer Alastair Campbell to comment on his blog that the “Media’s lack of focus on phone hacking exposes their agenda – sex and celebs

Secondly, on Friday 27 May 2011, Mr Justice Vos ruled that the effect of the News of the World admission of liability to Sienna Miller was that they were required to produce further documents and could not republish material covered by earlier articles, even where it was in the public domain.  There was a report of the hearing in the “Financial Times”.

The Press Gazette reports that Garry Tweedy, the brother of Cheryl Cole is suing the Daily Star after it claimed he was a convicted criminal who has been in prison several times.

Meeja Law’s mop up this weak is entitled: “CTB; buried apologies; and phone hacking judicial review” and has a long list of posts and articles which discussed these issues in the past week.

Journalism and the PCC

The Chair of the PCC, Baroness Buscombe, suggested on BBC’s Newsnight programme that the PCC is more effective than judges in preventing invasions of privacy. It is an interesting claim which, as far as we know, is not supported by any study of the evidence. On the same programme Lord Prescott expressed trenchant views saying to Baroness Buscombe “you’ve got no control over the editors at the Press Complaint Commission. You’re useless.”

The “Tabloid Watch” blog draws attention to the continuing failure of the Daily Mail to give appropriate prominence to apologies – the most recent being placed on the US section of its website.

The Angry Mob blog has a post on “Littlejohn and Trusting ‘Sources’” – dealing with a column which complains that it is not fair that people on the internet can say things when the press cannot. The post draws attention to yet another privacy invading piece from the “Mail” and comments “The whole tabloid business model is built around this invasive drivel, yet the same newspapers argue that freedom of speech and publication is vital to a healthy press”

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 discussed the rush of privacy applications last Monday, 23 May 2011 and the decision of Mr Justice Foskett on the “phone hacking judicial review”.

On Tuesday 24 May 2011, the Court of Appeal heard and dismissed the appeal by Chris Hutcheson, Gordon Ramsay’s father in law, who had been refused a privacy injunction by Mr Justice Eady on 1 December 2010 (in a judgment released by the Court of Appeal [2010] EWHC 3145 (QB)). The Court of Appeal announced their decision on 24 May 2011 but reserved the judgment until a later date. The case was discussed in the Press Gazette and the private information which he had sought to have restrained was reported in a number of newspapers.

On 26 May 2011, Mrs Justice Sharp heard a strike out application in a libel claim brought by Carole Caplin against the Daily Mail. The hearing was reported by the Press Gazette. Judgment was reserved.

On 27 May 2011, Mr Justice Tugendhat gave judgment in Goodwin v News Group ([2011] EWHC 1341 (QB)) indicating that he would not refer the conduct of the “Daily Mail” to the Attorney-General, because he did not think that his intervention would assist the Attorney.  On the same date he also gave judgment in the case of Thornton v Telegraph Media Group ([2011] EWHC 1376 (QB)) – in which he refused to vary the order for trial by jury which had been made earlier in the proceedings.

From the Blogs

David Allen Green, blogging as the New Statesman’s legal correspondent has followed the developing privacy story closely. On 17 May 2011, in a post entitled “Privacy, the public interest and “a woman called Imogen Thomas“, on 23 May 2011, he noted “The weekend Twitter mocked the English Courts” and on 25 May 2011 he asked “Is it the Sun what lost it?“.

We also draw attention to two posts on the Law Think blog about Mr Hemming’s intervention: “What is the purpose of an injunction?” and “Did John Hemming breach the rule of law?” – to the latter question the answer is an unsurprising “yes”.

The RPC Privacy Blog has a digest of recent news (Part 1) covering a number of these decisions including Goodwin and CTB.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

In Canada a jury has awarded  Can$650,000 to a director of the Bank of Montreal after finding shareholder rights activist Robert Verdun had defamed him.  The award included Can$400,000 for aggravated damages.

In Ireland a High Court jury awarded former Miss World, Rosanna Davison, €80,000 damages against Ryanair over a press release which she contended meant that she was racist, xenophobic, jealous and narrow-minded.

Events and Television

No events or broadcasts have been reported to us.

Next Week in the Courts

Next week is the legal vacation and no media law cases are currently listed.

Reserved Judgments

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).

Hutcheson (formerly known as “KGM”) v News Group Newspapers, heard 24 May 2011 (Master of the Rolls, Etherton and Gross LJJ)

Caplin v Associated Newspapers Ltd, heard 26 May 2011 (Sharp J)


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