The Freedom of Information Act has become a powerful tool for journalists and campaigners at both local and national levels seeking to reveal the workings of the state. But those making requests can easily be stopped in their tracks by the exemptions it provides from the fundamental requirement to disclose official information. A decision in the First Tier of the Information Tribunal (Case No. EA/2011/0112 & 0113), given on February 8 2012, on an appeal against a ruling by the Information Commissioner, examined the extent of these exemptions in relation to criminal proceedings, and how they work for the press.
On 22 February 2012 Mr Justice Hildyard dismissed an application by online secondary ticketing operator Viagogo for an injunction to restrain the broadcast of a Channel Four “Dispatches” programme. On Thursday 23 February 2012, the Master of the Rolls refused Viagogo permission to appeal. The programme, “The Great Ticket Scandal” was broadcast at 9pm that evening on Channel 4 and can be seen here on 4OD. Continue reading
It takes quite a lot these days to make the conduct of News International in the phone hacking affair look any worse, but a new legal document published by the Daily Telegraph seems to do just that.
The High Court document summarizes common elements of the cases brought by recent civil litigants against the company, and it includes a remarkable passage dealing with what is described as News International’s ‘Email Deletion Policy.’ Continue reading
The Financial Times has reported the launch of a radical and comprehensive new proposal for media regulation – for a “Media Standards Authority”. It is proposed that this new body would be independent of both government and the media and voluntary but with strong powers over members. The body would have statutory underpinning with a system of incentives with legal backing to encourage participation. Continue reading
On 9 February 2012 the Court of Human Rights handed down a fascinating judgment on freedom of expression. Vejdeland and others v. Swedenis the first time that the Court has applied the principles relating to hate speech in the context of sexual orientation. A unanimous Court has ruled that Sweden did not violate the right to freedom of expression: the criminal conviction of the applicants for distributing leaflets that contained offensive statements about homosexuals did not breach the Convention. The judgment – which I will discuss below – is well worth reading, and so is the factsheet on hate speech that the Court has released on the occasion of this ruling. Continue reading
The England football captaincy, its removal and the resulting resignation of the team’s manager has been the subject of considerable media attention in recent weeks. In the first week of February 2012 the media monitoring site, Journalisted, reported that John Terry’s loss of the England captaincy was the biggest story of the week – ahead of Stephen Hester’s bonus and Fred Goodwin’s former knighthood. In the second week, it counted 462 articles about Fabio Capello and his resignation over the captaincy issue.
Like a man being swept down a river, they reach for every branch, however flimsy, and every rock, however small or slippery. In weeks and weeks they have not found one that will hold.
Editors and executives of national newspapers are losing the argument about their past conduct, about how they have allowed journalism to be debased, about how they have abused, libelled and intruded upon innocent people, and about how they have faked their own regulatory system. Their desperation is growing, and it shows. Continue reading
The Court of Appeal yesterday dismissed the defendant’s renewed application for permission to appeal in the case of Thornton v Telegraph Media Group. The defendant newspaper was unsuccessful at trial and, in a judgment handed down on 26 July 2011 ( EWHC 1884 (QB)) was ordered to pay damages of £65,000 for libel and malicious falsehood. We had an Inforrm case comment at the time. Continue reading