Law and Media Round Up – 10 December 2012

10 12 2012

Round UpIn a widely reported speech at the Communications Law Centre University of Technology, Sydney, Lord Justice Leveson spoke about privacy and the internet, suggesting that “while established legal norms are in many respects capable of application to the internet, it is likely that new ones and new laws will need to be developed“.

In relation to an Australian radio station’s prank call to the Duchess of Cambridge’s hospital, he commented: “I say nothing about the recent Australian intrusion into her private life, while she is in hospital“.

The speech was given before it was reported that the nurse who answered the prank call had died in a suspected suicide; this tragic news has since dominated news headlines. The Guardian reports that the owners of the Australian radio station “have said they will co-operate fully with all investigations after the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha”.

National newspaper editors have said they will adopt the broad proposals of the Leveson Inquiry, but not the call for statutory underpinning. Their statement can be found here.  However, on the basis of the Editors’ Memorandum published by the “Guardian” it seems that they have not, in fact, accepted many of the recommendations.  The position was analysed in an Inforrm post, Newspaper Editors and Leveson, An Analysis of the ‘Delaunay Deal’).

It was reported by RJW and Digital Spy that footballer Joey Barton may sue the Daily Mail over an article published on 5 December suggesting he should come out as gay; Barton criticised the article on his Twitter feed.

Media Guardian has details of the BBC finance director, Zarin Patel’s libel claim against the Daily Star over a story about the BBC policy of paying star employees through personal service companies.

A hearing in Andrew James Enforcement v ITV on 30 November determined that the words complained of by the claimant – a debt collection company which featured in a consumer affairs programme, The Ferret, on ITV – are capable of bearing a defamatory meaning, as PA Media Lawyer reported.

The BBC is advertising for a new litigation lawyer [closing date: 12 December 2012].

There was a new milestone for the Inforrm Blog, which has published 1,500 posts since its birth just under three years ago. Over a third of those were published in 2012.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

Please let us know if there is anything to report in this section: inforrmeditorial@gmail.com.

Journalism and regulation

There are no new PCC adjudications to report, but several resolved cases. A number involve court reporting – three relating to inquests.

An Early Day Motion tabled on 12 December criticises the Press Association’s proposal to close regional lobby press team and make four journalists redundant. The EDM states: “this organisation has provided an important service to all parts of the UK since its inception in 1863 under the name Central Press and to newspapers including the Western Daily Press, Liverpool Post, Belfast Telegraph, Bradford Telegraph and Argus, Northern Echo and Bristol Post” … ; “the withdrawal of this vital connection between hon. Members and their local press will only serve to increase the perceived remoteness of this House from the constituents that it serves and the gulf between the Westminster village and other parts of the country“.

Research & resources

In the Courts

On 3 December 2012, Tugendhat J heard an application in the case of Price v Powell the claim brought by model Katie Price against her ex husband Peter Andre and her former manager Claire Powell.  Judgment was reserved.

On 3 and 4 December 2012, the Court of Appeal (Master of the Rolls, Richards and Sullivan LJJ) heard an appeal in Tamiz v Google. The Telegraph reported here.  Judgment was reserved.

On 5 December 2012 there were applications in the case of Desmond v Foreman (previous hearing [2012] EWHC 1900 (QB)).  An ex tempore judgment was given on case management issues.

Events

10 December, 8pm, OpenDemocracy: Can we trust the BBC? Cafe Oto, London.

11 December, 6pm, Law Society Public Debate Series: Leveson Report, The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1PL (This debate has been changed from 26th November to 11th December 2012).

15 December 2012, all day, Journalism, Churnalism and Media Bias: CFI UK conference, London.

16 January 2012, all day, Community Journalism Conference – Enabling and Empowering Communities, Cardiff University, Bute Building, Cardiff.

Know of any media law events happening in December 2012 and early 2013? Please let Inforrm know: inforrmeditorial@gmail.com.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Argentina: The Economist has a piece on a new media plurality law redistributing broadcasting licences. According to the report, the Supreme Court has ordered the lower courts to rule on the media law’s constitutionality within a “reasonable” time.

Jamaica:  According to the Minister of Information, the long-awaited bill to reform the law of defamation in Jamaica may be brought before Parliament in April 2013.

Namibia: A prisons officer has won a defamation case against the weekly publication Informanté, over a story which claimed he helped a bailed fraud suspect escape.

Russia: “An exhibition by British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman is being investigated by St Petersburg prosecutors after visitors complained that it was ‘blasphemous’ and ‘extremist'”, reports Index on Censorship.

United States.  In a recent interview which Justice Antonin Scalia said that the Constitution’s framers never intended to give journalists the right to libel public figures. “One of the evolutionary provisions that I abhor“, he said “is New York Times v. Sullivan.  “Who told Earl Warren and the Supreme Court that what had been accepted libel law for a couple hundred years was no longer?”.  The interview is reported here.

Next week in the courts

On Monday 10 December 2012 there will be an application in the case of WXY v Gewanter & ors – which is continuing as against the first defendant, Mr Gewanter.

On 12 December 2012, a 5 day judge alone trial in the case of Ohene-Gyan & anr v Breadmore & ors will begin.  The claimant is a vet and the defendants former clients who campaigned against his poor standards of care.  Background to the case can be found here.

On the same day the Court of Appeal (Arden and Lloyd-Jones LJJ and Tugendhat J).will hand down judgment in the case of Cammish v Hughes (heard 28 November 2012).

On the same day there is an application for permission to appeal and stay of costs in the Court of Appeal in WXY v Gewanter & ors.

Next week in Parliament

Monday 10 December, 2.30pm, Legislation – Crime and Courts Bill [HL] – Report stage (Day 3) – Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Main Chamber, House of Lords.

Tuesday 11 December, 9.30am, House of Commons Public Administration select committee. Subject: Communicating and publishing statistics. Witness(es): Nick Hurd MP, Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office; Will Moy, Director, Full Fact, Michael Blastland, freelance journalist and Chris Giles, Economics Editor, Financial Times. Location: Room 16, Palace of Westminster.

Tuesday 11 December, 3.45pm, House of Lords Communications select committee.
Subject: Media Convergence. Witness(es): (at 4.00pm) (via video link) from Mr Robert Madelin, Director-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission. Location: Committee Room 1, Palace of Westminster

Tuesday 11 December, 10.30am, House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee. Subject: Regulation of the press. Witness(es): Lord Hunt of Wirral. Location: The Thatcher Room, Portcullis House.

Wednesday 12 December, 9.30am, House of Commons Public Administration select committee. Subject: Communicating and publishing statistics. Witness(es): Andrew Dilnot CBE, Chair, UK Statistics Authority and Jil Matheson, National Statistician. Location: Room 16, Palace of Westminster.

Wednesday 12 December, 3pm, Proposals for a register of lobbyists – Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town / Legislation – Crime and Courts Bill [HL] – Report stage (Day 4) – Lord Taylor of Holbeach. Main Chamber, House of Lords.

Judgments

The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:

  • Miller v Associated Newspapers heard 21 to 25 May 2012 (Sharp J)
  • Iqbal v Mansoor, heard 31 October 2012 (Rix, Etherton and Lewison LJJ)
  • Price v Powell, heard 3 December 2012 (Tugendhat J)
  • Tamiz v Google, heard 3 and 4 December 2012 (Master of the Rolls, Richards and Sullivan LJJ)

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 jt.townend@gmail.com.


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