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Law and Media Round Up – 17 September 2012

The Inforrm Law & Media round up is back from a summer break, slightly ahead of the start of the new legal term. These regular weekly round ups contain summaries of relevant legal and parliamentary proceedings and media content, as well as listings for the week ahead. They are compiled from various legal and news sources, but additional suggestions and content is always welcomed, particularly in relation to defamation, privacy, contempt of court and media regulation, although other media and communication legal topics will be included. Please send suggestions, tips and event listings for inclusion in future round ups to

As noted on Sunday, there were two main stories relating to media law over the summer, on the theme of royal privacy and in anticipation of the Leveson Inquiry report. The Defamation Bill has also been back in Parliament.

Privacy: St James’s Palace confirmed that legal action against French Closer magazine for breach of privacy has commenced, following publication of photographs showing the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless. The Irish Daily Star has also published the photographs, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph here. Co-owner Richard Desmond is reportedly seeking an end to his association with the Irish Daily Star, while Independent News & Media, the publication’s other owner, said it had no prior knowledge of the decision to publish.

Defamation: Rather less widely reported was news that the Defamation Bill reached Report stage and had its third reading in the House of Commons on 12 September 2012. Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, previewed the debate here, for the Telegraph.

TheyWorkForYou has the debate here, separated into separate clauses. A report on the House of Commons Committee Stage of the Defamation Bill can be found here. Various people were tweeting from the debate, including Professor Alastair Mullis (see his past criticisms here), English PEN and the Libel Reform campaign (which responded to the third reading here). Tweets can be found by viewing this search.

The Bill has now completed its stages in the House of Commons and will move to the House of Lords, where Peers will debate and amend its contents.

Phone hacking: The Guardian reports on 40 new civil claims against News International in the High Court, with more claims expected to made public today.

Court reporting: HoldtheFrontPage reports that a weekly newspaper, the Milton Keynes Citizen, has been ordered to pay a £900 fine and compensation “to a group of youths whose details were wrongly included in a story in breach of a court order“. The court heard that the reporter mistakenly thought the legal age of an adult in court was 16, not 18.

Cabinet re-shuffle: Former Secretary of State for Justice, Kenneth Clarke, is now a minister without portfolio. The Ministry of Justice is now as follows:

  • Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice – The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP
  • Minister of State – The Rt Hon Lord McNally (and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords)
  • Minister of State – The Rt Hon Damian Green MP (jointly with the Home Office)
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Helen Grant MP (jointly with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Jeremy Wright MP

The latest line up for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport includes:

  • Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; and Minister for Women and Equalities – The Rt Hon Maria Miller MP
  • Minister of State – The Rt Hon Hugh Robertson MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – The Hon Ed Vaizey MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Women and Equalities) – Helen Grant MP (jointly with the Ministry of Justice)
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Jo Swinson MP (jointly with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills)

The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP kept his position as Attorney General, but there was a new appointment for Solicitor General, Oliver Heald MP. Rt Hon Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC remains as the Advocate General for Scotland.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

We are not aware of anything to report in this section. Please contact us if any statements should be included and we will update the round up.

Journalism and regulation

There have been no new PCC adjudications since our last round up. There have, however, been numerous reported resolutions, mainly concerning issues of accuracy:

In the US, the New York Times’ newly appointed public editor, Margaret Sullivan, addressed the issue of ‘false balance’, linking to a recent piece by media academic Jay Rosen. According to Sullivan, in response to one specific complaint about a ‘he said she said’ style of journalism, the national editor argued “It’s not our job to litigate it in the paper,” … “We need to state what each side says”.

Research & resources

  • The latest issue of the British Journalism review has been published, under new editor Kim Fletcher, with several articles published online including Leveson on the shelf? by Roy Greenslade and Exploding the ‘feral press’ myth by Peter Oborne. Articles by subscription include: Stephen Brook’s ‘You say Leveson; we say Finkelstein’; ‘The inside story of the BBC and Hutton’ by Kevin Marsh and ‘Privacy: Putting Article 8 back in the box’ by Caroline Kean [Gordon Ramsay, research fellow at the Media Standards Trust responds to Greenslade’s article here].
  • Dr. Daithí Mac Síthigh, lecturer in Digital Media Law, University of Edinburgh, blogged about the Cyberlaw session at the annual conference of the Society of Legal Scholars which took place in Bristol last week. A programme for the media and communications session can be found here.
  • A new site ‘Unsourced‘ allows users to add sources such as academic papers and press releases to news articles. The project blog is here.
  • Mark Pearson, Professor of Journalism at Bond University in Queensland, Australia, has published a collaborative Defamation update page featuring recent cases (many involving social media), on his site.
  • PBS & social media: The POLIS blog reports that “in some media markets such as Austria, public service broadcasters are not allowed to use social media freely“. In a new research project, journalist Nadja Hahn “will be looking at the regulations that cover the use of social media by public service broadcasters across Europe“. More details here.
  • The Privacy Paradox: resources relating to a symposium held by Stanford Law Review in February can be found online. Essays in the symposium issue are here; videos are here.

In the Courts

On 7 September 2012 there was a further case management conference in the Phone Hacking litigation before Vos J. A further hearing is scheduled for 25 September 2012.

An oral hearing for the claimant’s application for permission to appeal in McGrath & Anr v Dawkins & Ors has been listed for 8 November 2012.


18 September 2012, 6pm, Law Society Public Debate Series, Triumph of Free Speech or Libeller’s Charter? – The Defamation Bill 2012.

18 September 2012, 7pm, Stumbling Over Truth: The inside story of the sexed-up dossier, Hutton and the BBC, with Kevin Marsh, former editor of the Today programme, Lance Price, Clare Short and Richard Tait (chair: Roy Greenslade).

*Cancellation*, 20 September: ‘Protecting free speech: A public interest defence for the media?, The Law Reform Committee of the Bar Council and the Criminal Bar Association (CBA). This event has been postponed until the New Year.

20 September 2012, IBC Legal’s 18th Annual Protecting the Media conference, London.

20 September 2012, 8:30 am-6:30 pm, Third Annual Law School for Digital Journalists (part of ONA’s 2012 Conference & Awards Banquet, Sept. 20-23), Hyatt Regency San Francisco.

24 September 2012, 6.30pm, A New Golden Age in Media? Pedro J. Ramírez, Editorial Director of Unidad Editorial (chair: James Harding, editor, The Times) LSE.

27 September 2012, Conference5RB (media law & entertainment) London.

28 September 2012, LexisNexis Butterworths Intellectual Property in the Digital Enviroment, London.

3 October 2012, 6.30pm, James Cameron Memorial Award and Lecture 2012: N Ram, former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu and Group publications. City University London.

6-7 October: Launch of the latest issue of Index on Censorship, ‘Censors on Campus’, at Rethinking Small Media conference, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London.

24 October 2012, 6pm, Ten Years On – The Iraq Dossiers: Who Was Damaged Most by Hutton?, Media Society debate with Kevin Marsh, former editor ‘Today’; Peter Oborne, Lance Price, Professor Steven Barnett, Professor Jean Seaton (Chair: Steve Hewlett). University of Westminster, London.

25 October 2012, After Leveson: Annual Conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics (from 9.30am); Media Society debate (3.30pm); launch of The Phone Hacking Scandal: Journalism on Trial (Abramis),second edition. Frontline Club, London.

28 November 2012, 6pmCEL Annual Lecture 2012: Media Freedoms & Media Standards’, Baroness Onora O’Neill

Know of any media law events happening in the autumn? Please let Inforrm know:

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Australia: On 4 September 2012 Le Miere J gave judgment in the case of Leighton v Garnham ([2012] WASC 314) in the Supreme Court of Western Australia striking out various parts of a defamation claim.

India:A political journalist, Aseem Trivedi, who was imprisoned on sedition charges for cartoons mocking corruption in the Indian government was released on bail. BBC reports here. The Hindustan Times has a comment piece here.

Germany: Bettina Wulff, the wife of the former President, is suing Google over its automated search terms, which she says are false rumours. BBC reports here; Spiegel Online reports here.

United States: ABC News is being sued for defamation by a meat processor based in South Dakota, following claims about its meat products. A judge in Floridahas been disqualified from a case for being Facebook friends with the prosecutor“, reports TechDirt. Eric Goldman comments here.

In New York, a judge has ordered that Twitter must hand over the tweets of an Occupy Wall Street protester to prosecutors, Reuters/Chicago Tribune reports here. The New York Times has a feature about Twitter’s lawyer, Alexander Macgillivray, here.

Next week in the courts

We are not aware of any relevant cases listed next week. The Michaelmas term will run from Monday 1 October to Friday, 21 December 2012.

Next week in Parliament

Monday 17 September, 2.30pm: Adjournment: Internet trolling – Steve Rotheram, Main Chamber, House of Commons.

From Wednesday 19 September, the House of Commons will be in recess. The House will next sit on Monday 15 October 2012.

The House of Lords is in recess. The House will next sit on Monday 08 October 2012.

The dates for the three main British political party conferences are as follows:


The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:

Miller v Associated Newspapers heard 21 to 25 May 2012 (Sharp J)

Qadir v Associated Newspapers heard 26 and 27 July 2012 (Tugendhat J)

KC v MGN; Cairns v Modi, heard 26 and 27 July 2012 (Lord Chief Justice, Master of the Rolls, Eady J)

Also on Inforrm since the midsummer round up:

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

1 Comment

  1. jtownend

    Reblogged this on Media law and ethics.

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