The Jimmy Savile scandal continues to dominate news headlines, with focus on the BBC’s decision to drop its Newsnight film. Reports in the The Times (£), Channel 4, the Independent and elsewhere quote internal emails between the production team. A BBC Panorama special is expected to air on Monday evening. The former editor of the Today Programme, Kevin Marsh (whose new book on the BBC and the Hutton Inquiry is out) has a post commenting on the editorial process and wider implications here.

The CPS has extended its series of roundtables on prosecuting cases involving social media to sport: an event in November will include representatives from the FA, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the British Olympic Association and the Rugby Football Union.

The Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, has vetoed the release of letters written by Prince Charles to government ministers, after the Upper Tribunal found in favour of disclosure on 18 September 2012 (Evans v Information Commissioner [2012] UKUT 313 (AAC)). Nick Cohen comments on the decision in the Observer here.

The Guardian reports that Conservative MP Liam Fox is suing Harvey Boulter, the Dubai-based businessman “who helped reveal the former defence secretary’s unusual working relationship with Adam Werritty“.

A group called the Free Speech Network is launching a pamphlet ‘Responsibility Without Power’ on 25 October with an (invitation-only) event hosted by John Humphrys, with panelists including journalist Mick Hume and Tim Luckhurst, Professor of Journalism at the University of Kent. The network, formed of several publishing organisations, is campaigning against statutory backstop to press regulation, which it sees as “undermining the basic principle of a free press and internet“.

Meanwhile, Professor Brian Cathcart of the Hacked Off campaign, which does support statutory backstop powers behind press regulation, takes the Sunday Times to task for its dramatically billed analysis of post-Leveson reform, in a post here. It is, he says, “little more than a lengthy puff for the line now being taken by most editors and proprietors“.

And Rupert Murdoch is still tweeting, but has avoided the topic of UK media for a few days, since an update to his ‘scumbag’ comment and apology to Hugh Grant.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

We are not aware of anything to report in this section. Please email with any updates.

Journalism and regulation

There are no new PCC adjudications to report, but – as usual – numerous resolved cases. This week’s crop includes a clause 1 complaint against the Huffington Post, which appears to be its first reported on the PCC’s site. Four of this week’s resolved complaints were brought by a man who complained that newspapers had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) when they “published an article on a trial in 2007 in which he was convicted of rape but failed to report on a retrial in which he was found not guilty“. The newspapers removed the articles from their websites.

These cases and others can be found here: A woman v Huffington Post, Clause 1, 19/10/2012; Britt Luisa Ros v The Daily Telegraph, Clause 1, 19/10/2012; Mrs Avril Holmes v Ilkeston Advertiser, Clause 1, 18/10/2012; Mr John Stevenson v The Sun, Clause 1, 17/10/2012; A man v Stirling News, Clause 1, 17/10/2012; A man v Alloa Advertiser, Clause 1, 17/10/2012; A man v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 17/10/2012; A man v Belfast Telegraph, Clause 3, 17/10/2012; Paul Boseley v Metro, Clause 1, 17/10/2012; Paul Boseley v Express & Star (Walsall Edition), Clause 1, 17/10/2012; Paul Boseley v The Sun, Clause 1, 17/10/201; Paul Boseley v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 17/10/2012; Mr Keith Crowther v The Journal (Newcastle), Clause 1, 17/10/2012; Full Fact v Daily Mirror, Clause 1, 17/10/2012; Jim Sheridan MP v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 16/10/2012; Karen Walton v Evening Telegraph & Post, Clauses 3, 5, 15/10/2012.

Poynter reports how The New York Times has suspended one of its freelance journalists, Andrew Goldman for four weeks, following tweets sent from his personal account. The New York Times Public Editor comments on the case here and suggests it may be time for a “clear social media policy” at The Times. In an update, she reports a memo by the associate managing editor for standards, Philip B. Corbett.

Research & resources

  • David Banks, media law and consultant posted a series of articles about an ethically difficult scenario he encountered 20 years ago, on his blog. Day 1 is here; Day 2 here.
  • The Berkeley Center for Law & Technology (BCLT) has several privacy-related resources here

New publications

  • The evolution of online defamation – is it common sense in California?’ Ent. L.R. 2012, 23(8), 248-251
  • ‘Chambers v DPP: credible threat or a joke in bad taste?’ Ent. L.R. 2012, 23(8), 253-25
  • ‘The Law of Defamation’ G.L.S.I. 2012, 106(3), 48
  • ‘Twitter, jokes and the law’.J. Crim. L. 2012, 76(5), 364-369
  • ‘Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003: Threat or Menace? Lilian Edwards,LSE Media Policy Blog [previously published on the Society for Computers and Law website on 9 October]

In the Courts

The case of Frankie Boyle v MGN was heard by Eady J and a jury last week. It will conclude this coming week. There was an Inforrm post about the first week of the trial.

In Hilali Noordeen v Mrs Joyce Hill and the Health Research Authority, heard on 11 October 2012, a consultant surgeon who wished to sue the source of a report for defamation failed to obtain a Norwich Pharmacal order to force a senior volunteer health official to identify the people she spoke to about him [2012] EWHC 2847 (QB). PA Media Lawyer reports here (£).


22 & 29 Oct, 7.30pm, Rich Peppiatt: One Rogue Reporter, Soho Theatre, 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.

24 October 2012, 6.30pm, In Conversation with Keir Starmer QC , Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE, 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.

13 November 2012, 6.30pm, ‘Regulating for Communication’, Baroness Onora O’Neill, Goldsmiths University, London.

19 November 2011, all day, Media and War: challenging the consensus, Goldsmiths University, London.

19 November 2012, The Poetry of Free Expression: Celebrating 40 years of Index on Censorship, Index on Censorship / Poet in the City. King’s Place, 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: In Harbour Radio Pty Limited (2GB) v Trad, radio station 2GB successfully established the defence of qualified privilege at common law in respect of certain imputations, in a case brought by a man who spoke at a “peace rally” the week after the Cronulla Riots in 2005. Richard Ridyard reports for Inforrm here; Defamation Watch has a report here.

France: The search giant Google has said it will no longer list links to French publishers’ content in search results if a new law is introduced which requires search engines to license all of the content, according to an report.

Scotland: The Scottish Judiciary is to conduct a “fundamental review” of the current policy on the use of television cameras in court, twenty years after a note allowed broadcasting authorities to apply for permission to televise proceedings in the Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary. Until this new review is completed the judiciary will not consider any further applications to film in court.

Turkey: Fazil Say, a Turkish pianist and composer, was on trial for insulting Islam in Twitter updates, Index on Censorship reported.

Next week in the courts

On Monday 22 October 2012, the libel trial in Boyle v MGN will continue – with the summing up to the jury by Eady J.

On 24 October Tugendhat J will hear an application concerning costs in Radford v Frade– The original hearing was on 23 and 24 May 2012 and concerned a dispute between the claimant film director and the film’s producer over a film called “La Mula”. A number of injunctions have been granted to restrain the distribution of the film. Some of the background can be found here and here.

On 25 October 2012 Tugendhat J will hear an application in Colthurst v Myers.

On 26 October 2012 there will be another CMC in the phone hacking litigation before Vos J.

On the same day Tugendhat J will hear an application in the case of Jones v Cornwall & Devon Media.

Next week in Parliament

23 October 2012, 10.30am, Culture, Media and Sport committee. Subject: The BBC’s response to the Jimmy Savile case. Witness(es): George Entwistle, Director General, BBC. Location: The Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons.

23 October 2012, 3pm. Draft Communications Data Bill. Subject: Draft Communications Data Bill. Witness(es): Henry Porter, Columnist, The Observer, Duncan Campbell, Investigative Journalist, IPTV Ltd and Paul Heritage-Redpath, Product Manager and Solicitor, Entanet Opinion; Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, Crown Prosecutions Service. Location: Committee Room 1, Palace of Westminster.

23 October 2012, 4.30pm, Draft Communications Data Bill. Subject: Draft Communications Data Bill. Witness(es): Charles Farr OBE, Director of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, Home Office, Richard Alcock, Director of Communications Capability Directorate, Home Office and Peter Hill, Head of Unit for Pursue Policy and Strategy Unit, Home Office. Palace of Westminster.

24 October 2012, 11am, Debate:Relationship between media standards and media regulation – Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve. Location: Committee Room 2A, House of Lords.


The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:

  • Miller v Associated Newspapers heard 21 to 25 May 2012 (Sharp J)
  • KC v MGN; Cairns v Modi, heard 26 and 27 July 2012 (Lord Chief Justice, Master of the Rolls, Eady J).
  • Spiller v Joseph heard 15 to 18 October 20012 (Tugendhat J)

Also on Inforrm last week

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