Law and Media Round Up – 7 November 2011

7 11 2011

The High Court has rejected Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s appeal against extradition to Sweden to face rape and sexual molestation charges. Assange and his lawyers have 14 days from last Wednesday’s judgment to apply for appeal in the Supreme Court ([2011] EWHC 2849 [PDF]).  His Norfolk host Vaughan Smith told NewsweekI think it would be foolish to determine WikiLeaks is over. It’s far too premature for that.

In a post on the University of East Anglia media blog, Paul Bernal argues that

whether Assange is guilty or not, and whether he’s found guilty or not, supporters of freedom of information – and supporters of Wikileaks – should try not to tie his personal issues with the broader, more important issues that Wikileaks has raised“.

Meanwhile, POLIS director Charlie Beckett, whose new book on Wikileaks is due out in December, considers Julian Assange’s journalistic contribution to “networked” news at this link.

Trinity Mirror, Telegraph Media Group, the National Union of Journalists, the television presenter Anne Diamond, an anonymous individual named HJK, Jane Winter, the singer Charlotte Church and former Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames have been granted core participant status in Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into phone hacking. An individual, Elaine Decoulis, was refused core participant status as described in the judgment here. Surrey Police had told the Leveson inquiry that their officers were themselves victims of phone hacking shortly after beginning their investigation into Milly Dowler’s disappearance in 2002. But Lord Justice Leveson decided this did not necessitate core participant status; his ruling can be found at this link [PDF].

Police now believe that 5,795 people may have had their voicemails intercepted by News of the World. Press Gazette has a report on the evidence that might be given by a former Trinity Mirror employee, David Brown. There are now 60 individuals pursuing High Court claims against News International for damages for breach of privacy and misuse of confidential information, as Steven Heffer reports in his post outlining the details of NI’s compensation scheme. The Culture, Media and Sport select committee has published further evidence relating to News International’s internal handling of phone hacking claims. The Financial Times reports that the new evidence has “torpedoed any pretence that no senior News International executives knew the extent of the illegal journalistic activities at the News of the World in the early days of the scandal“.  We had a more detailed report on Leveson and phone hacking developments yesterday.

Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly publication, has once again produced a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed image in a special supplement distributed with the newspaper Liberation. Charlie Hebdo’s office was fire bombed when it first published the image last Wednesday, with the caption “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter“. According to Reuters, a headline in the new supplement says: “After their office blaze, this team defends the ‘freedom to poke fun’.”

A new report by DLA Piper examines social media users’ understanding of the law, updating its 2008 research.  It says: “Despite an increase in internet users’ awareness of their legal rights and responsibilities since 2008, the survey reveals that two thirds still claim to have little or no awareness, a worryingly high percentage.”

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

On 1 November 2011 there was a Statement in Open Court  in the case of Caplin v Associated Newspapers.

Trade union GMB has apologised to Inspector Philip Hinch for information contained in a press release in May 2011 which described the policing of an industrial action at BP Saltend in Hull and the arrest of GMB National Officer, Phil Whitehurst.

The BBC News Channel apologised to Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie on Tuesday. A BBC spokesman said:

“Last month we broadcast some reports from the Conservative Party conference which fell below our usual standards. Our reports gave a misleading impression that Andrew Tyrie MP had been influenced by a Downing Street official to say something he did not believe to be true. We have apologised to Mr Tyrie for our broadcasts.”

Tyrie did not make a formal complaint.

Journalism and the PCC

It was announced last week that Neil Hunt, former deputy chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority, has been appointed as a lay member of the PCC board,

The Guardian’s Steven Morris reflected on the benefits and difficulties of live tweeting a court trial. His live coverage of Vincent Tabak’s trial can be viewed here. Perhaps remembering the Daily Mail’s slip up in Perugia last month, he writes: “… we courtroom tweeters did help each other. Before I tweeted the guilty verdict, I double-checked that I had heard it correctly with a friend from a rival newspaper.” Meanwhile, a man is being investigated for publishing material on a social network site while the case was still active. HoldTheFrontPage reports here.

Northern and Shell’s editorial director, Paul Ashford, has described why the Express and Star newspapers withdrew from the PCC in 2010. As reported by Press Gazette, Ashford said “As far as we were concerned we were being regulated by what appeared to us to be a private club … it was difficult to draw a line between commercial attacks and working together on a regulatory body.

Ashford’s remarks were made during a Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism event at City University London last Tuesday, at which Lara Fielden introduced her new book examining the future of regulation. Inforrm has published her speech in this post. Fielden’s study, entitled Regulating for Trust in Journalism: Standards regulation in the age of blended media‘, finds that the current regulatory framework for UK media, which separates broadcast, newspaper and online content, has run its course.

News of the World was back in the news for a scandal other than its own, when the former Pakistan cricket captain, two bowlers and a cricket agent were imprisoned for a conspiracy to bowl no-bowls in last year’s test match against England. The Telegraph has the video of the original NOTW undercover sting at this link. Mr Justice Cooke’s sentencing remarks can be found at this link [PDF].

Occupy London protesters are challenging newspaper reports that they were not occupying their tents at night. The FleetStreetBlues blog comments on the dispute here; and the Guardian provides some scientific insight here.

Were the newspapers right to publish photographs of Colonel Gaddafi’s corpse in the manner they did? The Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliot, considers the issue at this link.At the time I agreed with the Guardian’s decision to publish. On reflection – and having read the complaints – I feel less convinced about the way we used these photographs, although I still feel strongly that they are an important part of this story and should have been used,” Elliott writes.

Joanna Yeates’ landlord, Christopher Jefferies, has spoken out in favour of retaining Conditional Fee Agreements. His interview with the Radio 4 Today Programme can be found at this link. Jefferies co-authored a letter to the Guardian last Monday, stating that CFA reforms would “effectively remove the opportunity of people of ordinary means to seek redress when they have been libelled or intruded upon, or where they need to defend a libel claim”. It was also signed by Bob and Sally Dowler, Peter Wilmshurst, Robert Murat, Mary-Ann Field, Zoe Margolis, Nigel Short, Hardeep Singh, Peter Murray, Parameswaran Subramanyam, and Peter Duffy.

The Gentlemen Ranters blog has dedicated a special online supplement to the Leveson Inquiry, with various pieces about journalistic standards in the 1960s and 70s. Did, as Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre recently claimed, reporters really steal photographs from people’s homes?

In the Courts

On 28 October 2011 Sir Richard Buxton refused the defendant permission to appeal in the case of Thornton v Telegraph Media Group (see Case Tracker). We believe that the application will be renewed orally.

The trial of El Naschie v MacMillan Publishers Ltd began before Sharp J (without a jury) on Monday 31 October 2011. The Court only sat on Monday and Wednesday last week, however, and the trial is continuing.

The Court of Appeal (Chancellor, Laws and Rafferty LJJ) heard the appeal in Berezovksy v Terluk over three days, 1, 2 and 3 November 2011. Judgment was reserved.

Judgment was reserved by the Court of Appeal in Cambridge v Makin on Thursday 3 November 2011, the Court of Appeal (Hughes, Black and Tomlinson LJJ).

On Friday 4 November 2011, the Administrative Court (Moses LJ and Singh J) dismissed the application for permission in the judicial review case of R (Decoulos) v Leveson Inquiry.

Events

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

10 November 2011, 6pm: Orwell Lecture 2011: Alan Rusbridger – Hacking Away at the Truth, UCL, London.

15 November 2011, 18:30: Media Society: The PCC is dead. Does television hold the key to better press regulation? Old Cinema, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has found that recent amendments to the Films and Publications Act “would deprive news of its value and interest“, reports the Mail & Guardian. The full judgment in Print Media South Africa and South African National Editors’ Forum’s case against the Minister of Home Affairs and the Film & Publications Board can be downloaded here.

In other South African media law news, ANC Youth League spokesperson, Floyd Shivambu, is facing a defamation action for calling a local journalist a “drunkard”. Sowetan Live has a report here.

“International Day to End Impunity” is on 23 November 2011. Until that date, Index on Censorship is publishing a story each day of a journalist, writer or free expression advocate who was killed in the line of duty.

Describing an individual as “bald” does not constitute criminal libel, the Supreme Court in South Korea ruled on Thursday. “The word ‘bald head’ might have been used to insult the plaintiff, but we cannot say from an objective viewpoint that it implies damage to the social status or reputation of people,” the court said, overturning an earlier ruling. AP has a short report here.

Howard Wells, former Irish FA chief executive, will receive £30,000 following a defamation action against his former employer the Irish FA and its ex-president Raymond Kennedy. “Mr Wells issued libel proceedings against both parties in connection with alleged press comments about his sacking in 2008,” reports the BBC.

Next week in the courts

We understand that the El Naschie v Macmillan trial will continue next week.

On Tuesday 8 November 2011 there will be a hearing in Neil Morrissey v Associated Newspapers Ltd. The background to the case is explained by Roy Greenslade on his blog.

There will be a further hearing in the case Miller v Associated Newspapers on Friday 11 November 2011 before Tugendhat J

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)

Cambridge v Makin, heard 3 November 2011 (Hughes, Black and Tomlinson LJJ)

Berzevoksy v Terluk, heard 1, 2 and 3 November 2011 (The Chancellor, Laws and Rafferty LJJ)

Also on Inforrm last week

Inforrm>>Privacy in Australia: Some Recent Developments. Protection of privacy in Australian law is evolving, but there is no clear cause of action for invasion of privacy in statute or at common law, explains Laura Sandwell.

Inforrm>>Case Law: Tesla Motors Ltd v. BBC: Malicious falsehood and damage. Sara Mansoori examines the recent libel action involving the BBC’s Top Gear – and the implications for ‘on demand’ services and repeats.

Opinion: “The Mail and Hugh Grant: flagrant intimidation”. Professor Brian Cathcart reflects on the “hallmarks of Glenda Slagg morality” in the Daily Mail’s attack on the actor.

Inforrm>>Case Law: eDate Advertising and Olivier Martinez. Barrister Mark Vinall examines the implications of the recent ECJ ruling.

Inforrm>>Blogs and Websites about Journalism and the Media: a UK Selection. Inforrm’s pick of media industry blogs.

Inforrm>>Analysis: How much will the papers pay for a kiss and tell? Judith Townend suggests questions that Lord Justice Leveson might ask about the amounts paid for stories about individuals’ private lives.

Inforrm>>Case Law: R (Guardian News and Media) v City of Westminster Magistrates. Alex Bailin QC considers a recent case dealing with third party access to court documents.

LSE Media Policy Project: Leveson Inquiry Round Up. Damian Tambini rounds up recent developments in the Leveson Inquiry.

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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7 11 2011
Monday miscellaneous | Media law and ethics

[…] to, I’ve been doing the weekly round ups for the Inforrm media law blog. The latest one can be found here. It reports latest developments in media law, regulation, events, with relevant case lists.  If […]

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