Law and Media Round Up – 31 October 2011 [updated]

31 10 2011

With Lord Justice Leveson’s preliminary October seminars completed, the full Inquiry will begin properly on 14 November, with “opening statements”. Evidence is likely to be taken until February 2012. Following the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service’s joint submissions on the impact of the Inquiry on the criminal investigation, a hearing on Monday 31 October 2011 will discuss how the “interface” between the inquiry and the police investigation should be handled. A call for additional evidence has been made via the Leveson Inquiry website. We reported these updates in more detail here.

On Monday 24 October, former News International executive chairman Les Hinton appeared by video link in front of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, pleading ignorance about various details of the phone hacking scandal at least seven times, as described by the Guardian’s Simon Hoggart here. An uncorrected transcript can be found here.

Meanwhile, a letter from James Murdoch to the committee [PDF at this link] confirms that News International will pay legal damages incurred by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, where it can be proved that he “acted on instructions from News of the World staff”. James Murdoch will give evidence to the Committee on 10 November.

The Independent looks at footballer Carlos Tevez’s threat to sue Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, in a Q&A with Field Fisher Waterhouse partner Colin Gibson – who is also quoted in the Guardian and on the BBC.

Google has published data on content removal requests in the UK from January to June 2011, including 65 requests from government. Four court orders requested content removal from web search on grounds of defamation. Its transparency report and ‘Government Requests’ section also includes data from numerous other countries.

POLIS has a report on an investigative journalism and human rights event, featuring Anthea Lawson and Robert Palmer, journalists/campaigners from Global Witness.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

We are not aware of any statements in open court this week.

The “Daily Mail” has apologised to Carole Caplin. Tabloid Watch compares and contrasts the Daily Mail’s front page story in September 2010 and the apology.

Journalism and the PCC

The PCC upheld a complaint against the Daily Record, stating that the publication of a photograph of a man’s body wrapped in sheeting was an intrusion into grief or shock (clause 5 of the Editors’ Code of Practice). The adjudication can be read here.

In its latest set of rulings, Ofcom found that the ITV1 show ‘This Morning’ breached the broadcasting code when a guest – the actor and television presenter Amanda Holden – promoted the ‘Quality Solicitors’ group of law firms and its marketing arrangement with WH Smith. Meanwhile, the Channel 4 documentary, ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’, was cleared of containing misleading material and found not to breached the code on impartiality and offensiveness. The broadcast bulletin with both rulings can be downloaded here [PDF].

WikiLeaks last week announced it would “temporarily suspend publishing” whilst securing its “economic survival”. It claimed that VISA, MasterCard, PayPal, Western Union and the Bank of America, have “tried to economically strangle” WikiLeaks, blocking over 95% of its donations, “costing tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue”. Julian Assange is due to find out on Wednesday 2 November 2011 whether he has won his High Court appeal against a European arrest warrant and extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations.

Last week’s BBC Radio 4 ‘Unreliable Evidence’ programme is themed on ‘Reporting the Law’ and features the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, who talks about recent Contempt of Court actions. Other guests include the judge Peter Rook, Desmond Browne QC and Gill Phillips, the Guardian’s director of editorial legal services. It can be heard at this link.

Media law resources

We have updated its ‘Forthcoming Cases Table‘ to include more cases, at varying stages. We would, if possible, like to post Skeleton Arguments and other relevant court documents. Please contact Inforrm via inforrmeditorial@gmail.com if you have any additional information.

We gave also updated our list of UK-based ‘Blogs and Websites about Media Accuracy and Fairness’. Please get in touch with suggestions for other sites that should be included.

In the Courts

In a judgment handed down on 24 October, Mr Justice Tugendhat held that, with restrictions, Times Newspapers is allowed to use information from leaked documents in its defence to a libel claim brought by the Metropolitan Police Service and the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Pupil barrister Rachit Buch reflects on the significance of the judgment here.

On 26 October 2011 Tugendhat J handed down judgment in Morrissey v McNicholas ([2011] EWHC 2738 (QB)). The defendants failed in their attempt to get Morrissey’s long-running libel action against them struck out. We had a post on this case from Gervase de Wilde.

On the same day, Tugendhat J agreed an order which discontinued the privacy action brought by Jeremy Clarkson against his ex-wife – previously known as AMM v HXW (with a public judgment [2010] EWHC 2457 (QB)). We had a post about this decision and its consequences.

By an order sealed on 27 October 2011, Dame Janet Smith granted the Defendants in the case of Lord Ashcroft v Foley permission to appeal against two decisions of Eady J: on 18 February 2011 ([2011] EWHC 292 (QB)) (striking out defences of justification and fair comment) and 1 July 2011 ([2011] EWHC 1710 (QB)) (refusing permission to serve further amended defences).

On Friday 28 October 2011 Tugendhat J handed down judgment in the case of Tesla Motors v BBC, ([2011] EWHC 2760 (QB))(heard 19 October 2011). He held that the action could not proceed unless Tesla amended its claim to plead a fuller case on damage. The judgment is not yet available but is discussed on the “Top Gear” blog here. It is reported that Tesla it intends to pursue the action.

The Guardian has been granted permission to appeal an Administrative Court decision, that prevents it from accessing legal documents relating the extradition hearing of solicitor Jeffrey Tesler: see Guardian News and Media Ltd, R (on the application of) v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court & Anor ([2011] EWCA Civ 1188).  The Guardian reports on its battle here.

Events

On 1 November 2011, 18:15: UCL Jurisprudence Review Panel, “The Normative Value of Free Speech and Privacy”, UCL.

On 7 November 2011, 18:30: “The Limits of Investigative Journalism” Peter Preston, LSE.

Students with an interest in media law may like to note that registration is now open for the 2012 Price Media Law Moot Court Competition – International Rounds in Oxford.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

In Norris v Gittos [2011] WASC 295 the Supreme Court of Western Australia gave reasons for striking out the plaintiff’s claim for defamation, having found that the defendant had “impregnable defences”.

Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, comments on the Canadian hyperlink case, Crookes v Newton, arguing that while “the immediate implications of the case relate specifically to defamation and the Internet, reverberations are likely to be far broader”.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Oliver Martinez, a French actor, can bring a privacy legal action in France over an article which appeared on a British paper’s website, the Sunday Mirror. The ECJ judgment, which says he could seek redress in his home country, the UK or any Member State in which the online content has been accessible, can be downloaded at this link [PDF]. Out-law.com has a detailed report here.

The trial of Dainius Radzevičius, the Chairman of the Lithuanian Union of Journalists, started in Vilnius last week. The OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, has expressed concern, stating: “Matters of such public importance and interest should be allowed to be discussed freely and with the highest degree of legal protection.”

Next week in the courts

On Monday 31 October 2011, the trial of El Naschie v MacMillan Publishers Ltd will begin before Sharp J (without a jury). It is listed for a period of 15 to 20 days. An earlier application in the case was heard by the same judge in May 2011 (see [2011] EWHC 1468 (QB))

On the same day Mr Justice Tugendhat will hear three applications in the libel case of Bento v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police.

On Tuesday 1 November 2011 the Court of Appeal (Chancellor, Laws and Rafferty LJJ) will hear the appeal in Berezovksy v Terluk. The first instance decision is [2010] EWHC 476 (QB). Permission was granted on 25 November 2010 ([2010] EWCA 1345).

On Wednesday 2 or Thursday 3 November 2011, the Court of Appeal (Hughes, Black and Tomlinson LJJ) will hear the appeal in the case of Cambridge v Makin. The first instance decision is [2011] EWHC 12 (QB). The appeal is confined to the issues of qualified privilege and malice.

[Update]  On Friday 4 November 2011, the Administrative Court (Elias LJ and King J) will hear an application for permission in the judicial review case of R (Decoulos) v Lord Justice Leveson.  The application is for judicial review of the decision to refuse Ms Decoulos core participant status in the Leveson Inquiry and is, as far as we are aware, the first judicial review application relating to the Inquiry.

Judgments

The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:

WXY v Gewanter, heard 11-15, 18-19 July 2011 (Slade J)

Morrison v Buckinghamshire CC, heard 20 to 21 July (HHJ Parkes QC)

Miller v Associated Newspapers, heard 13 October 2011 (Tugendhat J)

Flood v Times Newspapers, heard 17 and 18 October 2011 (Supreme Court)

Al Baho and others v Meerza, heard 28 October 2011 (Eady J)

Also on Inforrm last week

This week’s Round Up was compiled for Inforrm by Judith Townend, a freelance journalist and PhD researcher examining legal restraints on the media, who runs the Meeja Law blog. She is @jtownend on Twitter.


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