Formal hearings in the Leveson Inquiry will begin today, Monday 14 November 2011, in the Royal Courts of Justice. The first session will hear opening submissions by Robert Jay QC, on behalf of the Inquiry, and Core Participant representatives. Proceedings will be recorded for broadcast and a live stream is also expected to be made available via the Leveson Inquiry website. The Inquiry relaunched its website this week. An FAQ about proceedings can be found at this link.
Lord Justice Leveson visited the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail newsrooms last week to observe how the newspapers operate. He has also visited the Daily Echo in Southampton, the Guardian reported. On Monday 7 November Lord Justice Leveson rejected the Metropolitan Police and Crown Prosecution Service’s request to preview Inquiry evidence. His ruling can be found at this link. We had a report on that decision here.
The big media story of the week came with Tom Watson MP’s headline grabbing accusation to James Murdoch, during the News International CEO and chairman’s repeat visit to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee: “You must be the first mafia boss in history who didn’t know he was running a criminal enterprise“.
Murdoch’s evidence (uncorrected transcript PDF here) provided plenty of material for comment and analysis: Paul Farrelly MP probed him on the Gordon Taylor case; Watson revealed the details of his conversation with former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck; and Philip Davies MP questioned Murdoch’s management decisions. Professor Lorna Woods considers the rules on giving evidence on the City Legal Research blog.
Outside Parliament, Neville Thurlbeck revealed the existence of his personal dossier of evidence that he claims News International ignored in 2009. He told the BBC he had been “like a magnet for the iron filings of suspicion” for past two years but vowed to clear his name.
Details of private investigator Derek Webb’s surveillance work for News of the World came to light, with the publication of a list of targets by Channel 4 News. Individuals included John Motson and journalist Simon Hoggart, as Jon Slattery reports here. The Guardian’s Zoe Williams temporarily believed she was on the list, but it turned out to be someone else with the same name. The Independent had reported in September that lawyers Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris had been targeted by a PI working for NOTW, but further details emerged this week in reports by the Guardian and Newsnight. Inforrm’s post at this link discusses surveillance of MPs and another post asks whether following someone is illegal.
Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, used the Orwell lecture 2011 to describe the development of the phone hacking scandal and outline his vision for a new press regulation system. We had a report here. Lord Patten’s speech to the Society of Editors conference on Sunday 13 November – on ethics and journalism after NOTW – can be found at this link.
There were a number of other interesting legal discussions published by the Guardian: media law consultant David Banks asked how stringently should contempt laws be applied to new media. A group of female writers have drawn attention to “hateful trolling” by anonymous commenters, with further discussion here. Owen Bowcott reports on the Citizens Advice’s fears of libel action, as reported in a Parliamentary meeting (the Libel Reform campaign’s release is here).
The HoldtheFrontPage regional newspaper site reports how a Lancashire Telegraph reporter successfully challenged a section 39 order prohibiting the naming of two teenage boys served with anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs).
Regional newspaper editors discussed the high cost of legal fees in their evidence to the joint committee on Privacy and Injunctions. The uncorrected evidence can be download here [PDF] and Press Gazette has a report here.
Sir Nicholas Wall, President of the Family Division of the High Court, “called for a debate on the level of access the media have to hearings held by the Court of Protection, followed by new legislation”, reports PA Media Lawyer.
The 2040 Info Law Blog considers the possibility of accessing the Mayor of London’s text messages via Freedom of Information at this link.
Lawyer Watch has published the first post by the Network on Family, Regulation and Society “a collection of researchers from the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter with extensive experience of researching family law and policy matters”. It addresses “misleading” media reporting about the Family Justice Review Panel’s new report.
The Sunday Times has reported on an injunction mentioned in Parliament by John Hemming MP earlier this year, concerning paint manufacturer Hempel and the Norwegian Cruise Line, NCL. The injunction was granted by Mr Justice Langley in October 2005, in Hempel A/S v Brian Bradford.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
On 11 November 2011 there was a Statement in Open Court in the case of Gibbs v News Group Newspapers. News Group Newspapers accepted that the allegation that retired musician George Gibbs was a paedophile was untrue and that it was wrong to publish it. It agreed to publish a correction and pay substantial damages to Gibbs for the libel. PA Media Lawyer reported the case here.
On 10 November 2011 MGN Newspapers said it regretted publishing an article about Dale Farm resident Kathleen McCarthy and apologised for the damage and distress caused. The article, which appeared in The People, had wrongly alleged she was to be investigated over allegations of slavery. PA Media Lawyer has a report here.
Journalism and the PCC
The Mirror, Sun, Mail and Telegraph have removed photographs of Princess Beatrice from their websites following a complaint through her lawyers to the PCC. The PCC has now reported the matter resolved.
Tabloid Watch has numerous posts on recent red-top claims, including the Mail on Sunday on ‘green tax’; the Sun’s ‘exclusive’ on a new Rooney baby; the Sun on Elliot Morley; and the Mail’s clarification of a popular media myth: ‘Winterval did not rename or replace Christmas’.
One of the longest serving media industry bloggers, Jim Romenesko, has resigned from his position at Poynter.org, following a row over attribution and sourcing. The Washington Post reports here. Poynter’s column has now been renamed ‘Mediawire‘.
Juliet Shaw describes her legal battle against the Daily Mail, as a litigant in person, on the Justice Gap website.
FleetStreetBlues questions Ryanair’s latest PR wheeze and subsequent media reports that the airline plans to show in-flight porn.
In the Courts
On 8 November 2011, HHJ Moloney QC refused an application to make a statement in open court in the case of Morrissey v Associated Newspapers. The actor’s application was adjourned to the hearing of his claim for damages, due to be heard in the new year.
On 9 November 2011, the same judge began hearing an application in the case of Levy v Coomber. The matter is part heard. Some background to the case can be found here.
On 10 and 11 November 2011 the same judge heard a summary disposal application in the case of McGrath v Dawkins and others. Judgment was reserved. The case concerned comments on Amazon. Index on Censorship has a piece here and the Independent previewed the case here.
On 11 November 2011, in Hong v Persons Unknown, Tugendhat J granted the mother of Hugh Grant’s baby, Tinglan Hong an anti-harassment injunction banning photographers from approaching her home. There were reports about the injunction in the “Independent” and the “Guardian“.
The trial in the case of El-Naschie v Macmillan finally began on 11 November 2011. There is a news story about the caseon the One Brick Court website.
There was further hearing in the case of Miller v Associated Newspapers before Tugendhat J on 11 November 2011
On the same day there was a hearing in private before Eady J in the case of CTB v News Group Newspapers.
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.
21 November, 17:30, Reuters Memorial Lecture, Baroness Onora O’Neill: ‘The Rights of Journalism and the Needs of Audiences‘, St Anne’s College, Oxford
24 November 2011, 18.30, “Social Movements in the Age of the Internet” Professor Manuel Castells, LSE
23 November, 18:00, Is the ‘fit and proper person’ test in broadcasting inadequate? With Steven Barnett, Perry Keller, Ashley Roughton, Ian Walden. City University London
30 November, 18:30, Charlie Beckett, ‘Wikileaks: News in the Networked Era‘, LSE
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Max Mosley has won his privacy action against News of the World in France but former NOTW chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck was cleared of libel. We will have a post about this case shortly.
The long running ‘Oz Leaks’ saga continues, with journalist Cameron Stewart, a reporter for The Australian newspaper, ordered by a court to reveal his sources. It began when Stewart reported on counter-terrorism raids in 2009. He was ordered to disclose his source during a committal hearing of police officer Simon Justin Artz, accused of leaking information about Operation Neath. The Crikey website has an archive of stories on the topic here.
Gerry Kelly, Old Bailey IRA bomber and now Sinn Féin minister, has won a libel action against the Sunday World, which had wrongly claimed – 15 years ago – that he was once the IRA’s chief of staff and that he had an affair with an American diplomat. The Belfast Telegraph has a report here.
A newly released film about 1970s tabloid journalism has provoked legal action in the US by former ‘Miss Wyoming’ Joyce McKinney. Courthouse News Service has details of the Los Angeles lawsuit at this link.
Next week in the courts
Leveson Inquiry, 10.30am, Monday November 14, room 73, Royal Courts of Justice (RCJ) in London
The El Naschie v Macmillan continues before Sharp J next week.
On Tuesday 15 November 2011, there will be a hearing of an application for an injunction in the case of Law Society v Kordowski – relating to the “Solicitors from Hell” website.
On 18 November 2011 there will be a further Case Management Conference in the “Voice Mail Interception” litigation before Vos J.
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 and 11 November 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).
McGrath v Dawkins and another, heard 10 and 11 November 2011 (HHJ Moloney QC).
Hong v Persons Unknown, heard 11 November 2011 (Tugendhat J).
Also on Inforrm last week
Inforrm>>Leveson and the lessons from broadcasting. Professor Steven Barnett reflects on television regulation and its effect on journalism.
News: Murdoch, Myler and Crone and “misleading evidence. Laura Sandwell reports on the Murdoch evidence session.
Publish and be Sued: But Where? Aidan O’Neill QC poses the question: if private information material has been published on the internet where can the wronged individual bring an action, and what law applies?
Consumer law holds solution to grossly irresponsible journalism. Mark Pearson suggests that in the era of increasingly commercialised and converged media, “the best protection for responsible journalism is to punish unethical, misleading and deceptive conduct by any corporation against media consumers”.
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.