Law and Media Round Up – 12 December 2011

12 12 2011

For a change, we’ll start with something other than Leveson. England footballer Wayne Rooney has filed a libel writ against Mirror Group Newspapers over an article that appeared in the Sunday Mirror reports the Press Gazette.

At the New Statesman, David Allen Green examines psychic Sally Morgan’s reported legal complaint against Associated Newspapers. He reports that a libel claim has not yet been issued and questions the place of libel litigation in this case.

Glenn Mulcaire is reported to be the latest arrest in the Metropolitan Police’s phone hacking investigation.

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson is suing his former employer News International for criminal legal fees incurred by the investigation into phone hacking. The Independent has a report here. Glenn Mulcaire is also suing News International for an indemnity for his legal fees in his defence of the civil numerous claims brought in the Chancery Division, which claims are being managed by Mr Justice Vos.

The Independent also reported that former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett accepted a “substantial” settlement for interception of his voicemails in a “secret deal” with News International in May 2011.

At the Leveson Inquiry, we heard more from the ICO: former Information Commissioner Richard Thomas said he was glad that they did not prosecute journalists for using illegally obtained information. Newspapers might have fought the case in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, he said.

A “hot tub” of academics gave collective evidence on Friday, with Inquiry questions focussing on regulation of the press. One of the seven witnesses, Daithí Mac Síthigh: lecturer at UEA Law School, comments on their evidence here.

Other witnesses during the week included Peter Burden and Francis Aldhouse (Monday 5 December) and David Leigh, Chris Atkins, Charlotte Harris and Steven Nott (Tuesday 6 December).

Further evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport select committee has been made available online. It includes letters from Rebekah Brooks, James Murdoch, Tom Crone, Linklaters, Colin Myler and Neville Thurlbeck. The Guardian reported on new developments revealed in the communication here.

A transcript of the evidence to the joint committee on privacy and injunctions from Professor Andrew Murray, Dr Ian Brown, Ashley Van Haeften And Nicholas Lansman, Richard Desmond, Paul Ashford And Hugh Whittow is now available online [PDF].

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

The Metropolitan Police has made an apology to Jules Mattsson, a freelance photographer, in an out-of-court settlement over his arrest during an army parade in 2010, reports Press Gazette. Bindmans, the firm that represented Mattson, has published a press release on the case here.

Journalism and the PCC

There is one adjudicated PCC complaint to report from 9 December: Press Complaints Commission v Daily Mail: the Clause 1 complaint was upheld against the Daily Mail. This concerned the Mail Online’s (briefly published) inaccurate story announcing a ‘Guilty’ verdict in the Amanda Knox trial, when in fact Knox won her appeal against her conviction for murder. The commission was “particularly concerned” about the “account of what had apparently happened in the courtroom. The attempt to present contemporaneous reporting of events in such a manner was ‘clearly not acceptable’“. [Blogger Malcom Coles has the screenshots from that incident in October 2011 here].

The PCC also released details of 17 resolved cases: – Miss Rachel Cowles v Daily Mail, Daily Mail, Clause 1, 09/12/2011 ; Mr Elliot Morley, Yorkshire Post , Clause 1, 08/12/2011; Mr Michael Moss, Daily Mail, Clause 1, 08/12/2011; Greenbelt Group Ltd, Sunday Post, Clause 1, 08/12/2011; Kenneth Noye, The Sun, Clause 1, 08/12/2011; Mr Elliot Morley, The Sun, Clause 1, 08/12/2011; Mr Elliot Morley, The Mail on Sunday, Clause 1, 08/12/2011; Miss Brenda Priedon, Daily Mirror, Clause 1; 08/12/2011; Ms Vanessa Letts, Evening Standard, Clause 1, 08/12/2011; Mr Ash Choudry, Daily Mail, Clause 1, 08/12/2011; Sarfraz Khan, Metro, Clause 1, 08/12/2011; A man, The Sunday Times, Clause 1, 08/12/2011; Mr Steve Wickenden, Daily Mirror, Clause 1, 08/12/2011; Kat Fisher, The Echo (Basildon), Clause 1, 08/12/2011; A man, The Sunday Times, Clause 1, 08/12/2011; Resolved – Sir Stuart Bell MP v Press Gazette, Press Gazette, Clause 1, 08/12/2011; Mr James Stocks The Daily Telegraph, Clause 1, 06/12/2011.

The Editors’ Code Committee is calling for suggestions to inform its annual review of the Code. In a release [PDF] it said it would like to hear from “the public, civil society and the industry on how the Code might be revised to improve the system of self-regulation of the press, of which it is an essential component“. Suggestions should be sent as soon as possible, but no later than 31 January 2012 to: Ian Beales, Code Committee Secretary, PO Box 235, Stonehouse, Glos GL10 3UF. Or by email to: ianbeales@me.com.

The athlete Mo Farah has used Facebook to respond to an article in the Sun reporting his comments about BBC Sports Personality of the Year, reports Tabloid Watch.

In the Courts

On 7 December 2011 Mr Justice Eady gave judgment in the case of McKeown v Attheraces Ltd [2011] EWHC 3232 (QB), giving the defendant permission to amend, ordering trial by judge alone and refusing an application for trial of a preliminary issue.

On the same day Mr Justice Tugendhat gave his reasons for granting injunctions in the case of The Law Society v Kordowski ([2011] EWHC 3185 (QB)). We will have a post about this decision later in the week.

On the same day the Court of Appeal (the Master of the Rolls, Gross and Etherton LJJ) refused permission to appeal in the case of Hutcheson v Popdog Ltd. The Judgment setting out their reasons for the refusal was reserved.

On 8 December 2011 Mr Justice Tugendhat gave judgment in the case of Waterson v Lloyd MP [2011] EWHC 3197 (QB) in favour of the claimant.

On 8 December 2011 the same judge heard an application in the case of Raab v Associated Newspapers Ltd. Judgment was reserved.

Events

9 January 2012, 10 am. Art Exhibition: Justice and Security: there is more than one truth. A series of cartoons and videos on the issues of justice and security, that have been produced in conjunction with the Video Journalism Movement in Amsterdam. Atrium Gallery, LSE, London.

25 -29 January 2012. Centre for Investigative Journalism annual film week. Series of investigative films, followed by a Q&A session with the filmmakers. On Saturday 28 January, after the screening of The Whistleblower, there will be a networking party with opportunity to talk to the filmmakers and other journalists. City University London.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

On 28 November 2011 the New South Wales Court of Appeal determined that defamatory statements uttered by police doing their work are protected by both forms of qualified privilege – statutory and common law ([2011] NSWCA 370). Inforrm has a report here.

The president of Malaysia political party, Parti Kita, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, is “suing a blogger and two others for a total of RM 30mil over alleged defamatory words published in a bi-monthly newspaper last month,” reports The Star.

A federal court in Oregon has ruled that blogger Crystal Cox could not use journalist shield laws to protect her sources in a defamation case, “a decision with implications for bloggers around the country“, reports the Associated Press. The New York Times Decoder blog has a round up here and the Online Journalism Review’s Robert Niles comments on the case here. More information about US shield laws on the Seattle Weekly site here.

A British Foreign and Commonwealth Office podcast at this link marks International Human Rights Day, with an edition on social media and free expression. It features Index on Censorship chief executive John Kampfner; Agnès Callamard, Article 19; and Irina Bogdanova, Free Belarus Now.

Next week in the courts

On Monday 12 December 2011 Mr Justice Tugendhat will give judgment in the case of Cooper v Turrell – this is an assessment of damages in a libel case.

On 14 December 2011, HHJ Parkes QC will hand down judgment in the case of Morrison v Buckinghamshire CC, (heard 20 to 21 July).

On 15 December 2011 the Court of Appeal (The Chancellor, Laws and Rafferty LJJ) will give judgment in the case of Berzevoksy v Terluk, (heard 1, 2 and 3 November 2011). The Court will then hear the application for permission to appeal in the case of Ferdinand v MGN.

Next week in the Leveson Inquiry

The following provisional list has been published [PDF] on the Inquiry site, subject to change. Witnesses for each day are listed in alphabetical order not in running order.

Monday 12th December, 10:00 – 16:30, Mazher Mahmood, Neville Thurlbeck, Neil Wallis

Tuesday 13th December, 11:30 – 16:30, Lawrence Abramson, Tom Crone, Julian Pike

Wednesday 14th December, 10:00 – 16:30, John Chapman, Colin Myler

Thursday 15th December, 10:00 – 16:30, Daniel Sanderson, Derek Webb

Judgments

The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:

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

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

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

McGrath v Dawkins and another, heard 10 and 11 November 2011 (HHJ Moloney QC).

Levy v. Coomber heard 9 and 16 November 2011 (HHJ Moloney QC).

Cooper v Turrell, heard 24 November 2011 (Tugendhat J)

Phillips v NGN, heard 28 and 29 November 2011 (Judge LCJ, Neuberger MR, Kay V-P)

Raab v Associated Newspapers Ltd., heard 9 December 2011 (Tugendhat J)

Next week in Parliament

12 December 2011, 2:15 pm, Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions. Witnesses: Viscount Rothermere, Chairman, Daily Mail & General Trust plc, Kevin Beatty, Chief Executive, A & N Media, and Liz Hartley, Head of Editorial Legal Services, Associated Newspapers; (ii) (3:15) James Harding, Editor, The Times, Peter Wright, Editor, Mail on Sunday, and Bob Satchwell, Executive Director, Society of Editors. The Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House

13 December 2011, 3:15 pm, House of Lords Communications Committee. The future of investigative journalism. Witness(es): Mr Richard Caseby, Managing Editor, the Sun. The meeting will continue in private at 4.30pm. Room 2, Palace of Westminster

Also on Inforrm last week

90 recommended law & media tweeters. Please add your suggestions for media law themed Twitter accounts to the list in the comments or by tweeting @jtownend. We’ll publish an updated version before Christmas.

Future press regulation must recognise multi-platform content. Lara Fielden reviews the current regulatory models for broadcasting, newspapers, video on demand and wider online content and suggests a new three tiered framework.

The Leveson Inquiry – The Legitimacy Challenge. Damian Tambini asks where the Leveson Inquiry is going, and whether the inquiry itself is likely to end up as a casualty.

Should Journalists have privileges? Part 2 – Accreditation and Privileged Access. Hugh Tomlinson QC argues that privileges should be made available to those who pass through a gateway policed by a voluntary independent regulatory body and sign up to an enforceable code of responsibility.

Self-Regulation and the Press Council – Louis Blom-Cooper on the lessons of the 1980s. Extracts from Julian Petley’s Index on Censorship interview with Sir Louis Blom-Cooper.

“Prior protection”: Davies and Campbell are right. Carl Gardner outlines a system that he says is the opposite of prior restraint and could help reduce the “chilling effect” on free speech.

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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