The Inforrm Blog today returns to regular publication after our winter break. Although the legal vacation continues until Wednesday 11 January 2012, there is no shortage of media and legal news – and stories which we need to catch up with from the last two weeks. These will be dealt with in our regular weekly round up which will resume on Monday 8 January 2012.
There are many developments in relation to the media and law to look forward to in 2012. We will highlight just a few:
- The Leveson Inquiry resumes on 9 January 2012 – with evidence from editors, journalists and newspaper lawyers. The Inquiry will conclude Part 1 Module 1 (press and public) and then continue with Modules 2 (press and police) and 3 (press and politicians) before making recommendations “for a more effective policy and regulation that supports the integrity and freedom of the press while encouraging the highest ethical standards” by September 2012.
- The police investigations into phone hacking, police corruption and email hacking will continue in 2012 – it seems likely that there will be more arrests and that some charges will finally be brought. There has already been one more Operation Weeting arrest in 2012 – apparently of Rebekah Brooks’ former personal assistant, Cheryl Carter.
- Meanwhile the civil claims against the “News of the World” continue – with a trial due to commence before Vos J on 13 February 2011. Claims continue to be issued – with Sir Andrew Morritt mentioning, in passing, that the most recent one was brought by “Abigail Clancy on 6 December 2011” (see Mulcaire v NGN  EWHC 3469 (Ch) ),
- The Government will publish its “Defamation Bill” – “soon as parliamentary time allows” – the bill will then begin to progress through its Parliamentary stages and seems likely to become law in 2012.
- Two important Parliamentary Committee reports will be published: the Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions will conclude its deliberations and report in the course of 2012 and the House of Lords Communications Committee will publish its report on investigative journalism in 2012.
- We already know that there will be important libel and privacy judgments from the courts – reserved from 2011. We will mention only three – the first instance judgment in the privacy case of WXY v Gewanter, heard 11-15, 18-19 July 2011 (Slade J), the Court of Appeal judgment in the “privilege against self-incrimination” case of Phillips v NGN, heard 28 and 29 November 2011 by Judge LCJ, Neuberger MR, Kay V-P and the Supreme Court “Reynolds” judgment in Flood v Times Newspapers, heard 17 and 18 October 2011.