Parliament continues to consider the Defamation Bill 2012, with the public bill committee meeting on Tuesday 26 June (see below, “Next week in Parliament”). Last week the committee rejected an amendment which would have allowed a dead person’s close relatives to sue for defamation up to one year after the death (Ayes 5, Noes 11). The Hansard report can be found here.
The Libel Reform campaign is concerned that the bill does “not yet contain a usable public interest defence“. It is hosting a meeting to “discuss improvements to the Defamation Bill” at Parliament on Wednesday 27 June, followed by a mass lobby (see “Events”, below).
As noted below (“In the courts”), Luke Cooper v Evening Standard and Associated Newspapers – which saw the claimant awarded £60,000 in damages – was the first libel trial with a jury since July 2009. Clause 11 of the Defamation Bill declares “Trial to be without a jury unless the court orders otherwise”, removing the right to jury trial in actions for libel and slander. But what are the alternatives? Inforrm assesses the options and initiates the debate here.
The Leveson Inquiry is asking for comments or submissions relating to various industry proposals as part of Module 4, which “should ideally be received no later than 29 June 2012“.
The Carnegie UK Trust, which published its ‘Better Journalism in the Digital Age‘ report earlier this year, has analysed evidence to the Leveson Inquiry and has found that of 458 submissions, only around 30 have been received from those who are registered as charities and campaign groups. In response, it has raised “concerns that the voice of charities and campaign groups is missing” and encourages organisations to make their voice heard. Its suggestions for a new regulatory regime can be found here.
On the 11KBW Panopticon blog, Anya Proops discusses the use of Norwich Pharmacal orders to obtain personal information from Facebook, with reference to the recent Nicola Brookes case and Applause Store Productions Ltd and another v Raphael  EWHC 1781 (QB).
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is currently considering further files involving four journalists relating to Operation Weeting, for charging decisions. There have now been 18 files handed to prosecutors, as PA Media Law reported (subscription required).
“A further 20 alleged victims of phone hacking are expected to lodge civil claims against News International shortly, taking the latest total to more than 70 claimants, the high court has heard“, according to a Guardian report.
Fiona McGuire, “a former escort girl who claimed she had an affair with the former Scottish parliamentarian Tommy Sheridan, has been told by police her personal emails were hacked in 2005“, according to the Telegraph.
The ECtHR has ruled that the UK Government must pay Mirror Group Newspapers more than £200,000 in damages (MGN Limited v The United Kingdom – Application no. 39401/04 – Just Satisfaction) over MGN’s payment in costs and success fees in Naomi Campbell’s CFA for two House of Lords appeal hearings. The court dismissed the remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction. PA Media Lawyer reports here. In the ECtHR’s principal judgment (Application no. 39401/04 – Merits), which became final on 18 April 2011, the Court found that there had been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention as regards the success fees payable by the applicant.
Press Association reporter Brian Farmer successfully obtained permission from Mr Justice Charles to report a private case in the Family Division of the High Court, arguing that coverage would be in the public interest, PA Media Lawyer noted last week (subscription required). The case concerned a court order which banned a woman involved in a divorce dispute from moving house; the restriction was lifted although the woman and her children had to remain in England or Wales while legal proceedings continued.
Morrissey and NME have agreed to settle their dispute after NME apologised, reports ClashMusic.com. As PA reported, the High Court ruled last year that Morrissey could continue with his libel action over an article that he claimed characterised him as racist, after NME attempted to strike out his claim.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of any statements in open court or published apologies this week.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any other cases to report in this section.
Journalism and regulation
There is one adjudication to report since last week’s round up: Charles Tannock MEP’s complaint over an article in the Sunday Times headlined “Tory MEP kept energy share options secret” has not been upheld. The decision can be found here.
Resolved complaints include:
Jonty Stern v The Sun, Clause 1, 22/06/2012; Mr Steven Wren v The Sun, Clause 1, 22/06/2012; Ms Lindsay Greenway v Daily Mail, Clauses 1, 3, 5, 22/06/2012; Mr Michael Tuberville v Metro, Clause 1, 22/06/2012; Mrs Judith Jones v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 22/06/2012; John Forrester v The Scottish Sun, The Scottish Sun, Clause 6, 19/06/2012; Lyn Paul v Daily Mirror, Clause 1, 18/06/2012; Ms Michelle Harvey-Gill v The Sun, Clause 1, 18/06/2012.
Ofcom has released its report on measuring media plurality, following the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt’s request in October 2011. It recommends that a periodic review of plurality every 4 or 5 years is the best approach.
“Ofcom has concluded that an effective framework for measuring media plurality is likely to be based, to a significant extent, on data and analysis. However, there are also areas where an important degree of judgement is required. The appropriate approach to exercising such judgement is ultimately a matter for Parliament.“
An executive summary can be found here.
Ofcom has written to the Times disputing an article headlined ‘Ofcom chief’s bid for top job at the BBC raises questions over conflict of interest‘ (22 June). Colette Bowe, Ofcom chairman writes:
“Robust procedures, agreed by the Ofcom Board, have been put in place to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. These were enacted on 8 May, immediately after Ofcom CEO Ed Richards applied for the BBC Director General role.“
The Guardian reports on a claim at London Central employment tribunal for unfair dismissal brought by the Daily Telegraph’s former political sketch writer.
Twitter: A firm of information architects has proposed an idea that would give users “the ability to strike-through tweets to mark them as erroneous“, reports Journalism.co.uk.
Research & resources
- The LSE has published its Media Policy Brief 6, which considers a replacement for the PCC. As detailed by Dr Damien Tambini in a post here, it proposes “a set of recommendations including that the PCC’s replacement should be formed by both media owners and the NUJ, as well as including consumer groups or other representatives of the public. They also suggest that the state be involved by setting minimum criteria, offering incentives for participation, and/or help fund the new body“. Download the report here [PDF].
- The Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism (CLJJ) at City University London has published its ‘Justice Wide Open’ working papers from a conference in February 2012. It is part of a project examining open justice in the digital era. Chapters, authored by a range of leading lawyers, journalists and academics, can be downloaded here.
- Google has released its latest set of Transparency Report data, for the period July to December 2011, on removal requests made by government. Marta Cooper reports here, for Index on Censorship. For the UK, Google reports that it “received a request from the UK’s Association of Police Officers to remove five user accounts that allegedly promoted terrorism. We terminated these accounts because they violated YouTube’s Community Guidelines, and as a result approximately 640 videos were removed“.
In the Courts
The case of Luke Cooper v Evening Standard and Associated Newspapers was tried by Eady J and a jury between Monday 18 June and Friday 22 June 2012. This was the first libel jury trial since July 2009, a period of 1061 days. It resulted in a verdict for the Claimant in against the two newspapers in the total sum of £60,000. There was an Inforrm news report about the case.
On Tuesday 19 June 2012 Nicola Davies J began hearing the privacy trial of AAA v Associated Newspapers. This has largely proceeded in private and is continuing this week.
Please contact us with additional items for this section and we will update the round up.
23-26 June 2012, IPI World Congress 2012 – Media in a Challenging World – A 360 Degree Perspective, Trinidad & Tobago.
26 June 2012, 6pm, Media, Power and the Public seminar: ‘Can the Media be Co-operative?’, Dave Boyle. Coordinated Committee for Media Reform in conjunction with the Hacked Off campaign. Centre for Creative Collaboration, 16 Acton Street, Kings Cross, London WC1X 9NG.
26-27 June: Washington University in St. Louis School of Law / University of Cambridge: International Privacy Law Conference, Clare College, Cambridge.
27 June, 10:3oam: Libel Reform campaign: meeting to discuss improvements to the Defamation Bill / mass lobby for a public interest defence. House of Commons.
27 June 2012, 12.30-2pm, What should journalists be taught? Professor Jay Rosen. City University London.
28 June 2012, all day, LexisNexis Defamation & Privacy conference, London.
3 July 2012, 18:30pm: Maintaining Trust and Values in the Digital Age, LSE, London.
17 July 2012, 8:30-10am, Responsibility for defamatory user generated content: the changing landscape, Field Fisher Waterhouse, 35 Vine Street, London, EC3N 2PX.
1-27 August, 5pm, Comedy: ‘One Rogue Reporter‘, Rich Peppiatt / Something for the Weekend, Edinburgh Festival.
Know of any media law events happening in July / August? Please let Inforrm know: email@example.com.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Australia: In Palavi v Queensland Newspapers  NSWCA 182 the Court of Appeal in New South Wales, by a majority of 2:1, dismissed an appeal against a decision of Nicholas J, striking out a defamation claim as an abuse of the process because the plaintiff had destroyed an iPhone and deleted material from another iPhone when proceedings were contemplated.
Canada: Conrad Black has filed a $1.25-million lawsuit for defamation against Random House of Canada and author Bruce Livesey over the book Thieves of Bay Street, reports the National Post.
Poland/Belarus: Andrzej Poczobut, the Belarus correspondent of Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza and an activist, “was arrested for insulting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday, less than a year after serving jail time for similar offences“, Reuters reports.
Austria: On 19 June 2012 in the cases of Kurier Zeitungsverlag und Druckerei GmbH (No. 2) v. Austria (Application no. 1593/06) and Krone Verlag GmbH v. Austria (no. 27306/07), the First Section of the European Court of Human Rights held that there had been no violation of Article 10 in two cases in which newspapers had revealed the identity of a child and published photographs from which he could be recognised. The court found that the publications were an interference with the child’s private life and that the compensation of €9,000 and €130,000 was proportionate, as Hugh Tomlinson QC set out here in an Inforrm post.
In a post for Al Jazeera English, Jillian C. York charts the plight of the “forgotten bloggers” “victims of political repression, imprisoned in Tehran and Damascus, or in hiding somewhere in Bahrain“. She discusses the cases of Hossein Derakhshan, Ali Abdulemam and Razan Ghazzawi.
Next week in the courts
On Monday 25 June 2012 the trial of the libel case of McLaughlin v London Borough of Lambeth will begin in Court 13 before Eady J (sitting without a jury). This is a claim by various persons associated with the Durand Primary School against the local borough council and its Chief Internal Auditor. The action relates to emails sent in 2007 and 2008. In November 2010 Tugendhat J dismissed the defendants’ application to strike the claim out ( EWHC 2726 (QB)).
The privacy trial in AAA v Associated Newspapers continues before Nicola Davies J in Court 16.
On 26 June 2012 there will be a hearing in the defamation case of Jooste v GMC.
On Wednesday 27 June 2012 a three judge Divisional Court will hear, once again, the appeal in the case of Chambers v DPP – the so-called “Twitter joke case”. There was an Inforrm post about the failure of the two-judge court which initially heard the case to agree.
Next week at the Leveson Inquiry
Monday 25 June, 10:00 – 13:00, Peter Riddell (formerly of the Times; Andy Grice (Independent); Phil Webster (Times). 14:00 – 16:30: Jon Snow (Channel 4 News); Simon Walters (Mail on Sunday)
Tuesday 26 June, 10:00 – 13:00: John Lloyd (Financial Times); Tim Colbourne (Special Advisor to DPM); Giles Crown (Solicitor to Bowles family). 14:00 – 16:30: Norman Lamb MP; David Mellor; Jillian Brady (General Counsel, Virgin Atlantic Airlines). To be Read: Nigel Regan (CEO, Big Pictures UK); Josh Halliday (Guardian)
Wednesday 27 June, 10:00 – 13:00: Directions Hearing [TBC]
Next week in Parliament
Monday 25 June, 2.30pm. Legislation. Crime and Courts Bill [HL] – Committee of the whole House (Day 3) – Lord Henley, Main Chamber [House of Lords].
Tuesday 26 June, 10.30am & 4pm: Defamation Bill Committee. Subject: to consider the Bill. Location: Committee Room 9, Palace of Westminster [House of Commons].
Tuesday 26 June, 2pm. Human Rights Joint Committee. Subject: The Justice and Security Bill. Witness(es): (at 2.15pm) Martin Chamberlain, Special Advocate; Angus McCullough QC, Special Advocate; and Ben Jaffey, barrister at Blackstone Chambers. Location: Committee Room 5, Palace of Westminster. [House of Lords].
Wednesday 27 June, 3pm. Legislation. Crime and Courts Bill [HL] – Committee of the whole House (Day 4) – Lord Henley. Main chamber [House of Lords].
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
El-Naschie v Macmillan, heard 11, 14, 16 to 18, 21, 22, 25, 28-30 November, 1 -2 December 2011 (Sharp J)
Woodrow v Johansson, heard 19 January 2012 (HHJ Parkes QC)
Bento v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire, heard 3 April 2012 (Maurice Kay and Hooper LJJ and Henderson J)
Phillips v Mulcaire, heard 8 to 10 May 2012 (Supreme Court)
Subotic v Knezevic, heard 25 May 2012 (Tugendhat J)
Miller v Associated Newspapers heard 21 to 25 May 2012 (Sharp J)
Also on Inforrm last week
- A Note on the Defamation Bill, Part 1 – Alastair Mullis and Andrew Scott
- A Note on the Defamation Bill, Part 2 – Alastair Mullis and Andrew Scott
- Case Law: Trimingham v Associated Newspapers, no “harassment by newspaper” – Gervase de Wilde
- Public backs Leveson, Times poll says (but the Times doesn’t) – Brian Cathcart
- The special status of the press in election laws – Jacob Rowbottom
- Press launches Operation Megaphone to drown out Leveson Inquiry – Brian Cathcart
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. Please send suggestions, tips and event listings for inclusion in future round ups to firstname.lastname@example.org.