There’s still time to enter the Inforrm Media Law Quiz of the Year – just. Entries must be received by 14 January 2013. Inforrm also had a quick preview of the year ahead, marking its return from a winter break.
Perhaps the most striking piece of news this week comes from the criminal courts. Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn has been convicted of misconduct in a public office by a jury at Southwark Crown Court after she admitted telephoning the “News of the World” on 11 September 2010, shortly after the phone hacking inquiry was re-opening. She is the first person to have been prosecuted under Operation Elveden, the investigation into improper police behaviour.
On Friday the Metropolitan Police and NSPCC published its report on the Jimmy Savile abuse allegations, on the same day as the release of Alison Levitt QC’s report to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Guardian’s Josh Halliday spotted a segment about Savile’s threats to officers in the latter [PDF – page 64]. Halliday reports:
“Savile appears to have issued a veiled threat to two Surrey police officers when interviewed under caution in 2009. A police log of the interview records Savile saying: ‘I have no kinky carryings on. But because I take everything seriously I’ve alerted my legal team that they may be doing business and if we do, you ladies [the two female officers] will finish up at the Old Bailey as well because we will be wanting you there as witnesses. But nobody ever seems to want to go that far’.”
The Information Commissioner has published his response to the Leveson Report. He agreed with the large majority of recommendations including the recommendations about tougher sentencing for data protection offences. The press coverage, however, focused on exclusively on one part of recommendation number 49, which concerns the right of subject access from the ‘journalistic exemption’ in section 32 of the Data Protection Act 1998.
In other data protection news, the European Parliament draft report [PDF] on the reform of data protection rules was published last week, but has received very limited attention outside technology and legal media outlets. Its recommendations could have significant implications for academic research (also see David Erdos’ recent paper in Public Law, listed below).
It was reported that Rutland County Council was contemplating a defamation action against three independent councillors, relying on the Localism Act 2011 and advice provided by solicitors Bevan Brittan [pdf]. However, after a Council meeting, it was decided that the “option of taking legal action for defamation is not being pursued at this time”. David Allen Green had a post about the case on his “New Statesman” blog in which he described the advice as “remarkable” and suggested that the Localism Act is irrelevant to the policy that led the House of Lords to decide that public bodies could not sue for libel.
Members of the House of Lords debated the Leveson report on the culture, practices and ethics of the press on Friday (11 January) [transcript]. The PCC has published Lord Hunt’s contribution here. Lord Fowler criticised the government’s plans for a media regulator backed by Royal Charter, while Lord Lester was concerned about Lord Justice Leveson’s suggestion to extend the law on exemplary damages by Act of Parliament. There was an Inforrm post by Hugh Tomlinson QC dealing with this contribution to the debate.
Hacked Off, the campaign for a free and accountable press, published its Leveson Draft Bill [pdf], which would put Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations on press regulation into law. Contrary to a suggestion in a BBC report, now corrected, the draft bill has not been introduced to Parliament; it is a draft proposal [FullFact].
A guide for self-represented litigants making applications to the Interim Applications Court of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court has been published by the judiciary.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court on Friday, the first day of the legal term.
On Sunday 13 January 2013, the Sunday Times published an apology to Ryanair, for wrongly accusing the airline of 1,201 breaches of safety rules and of pressuring its pilots to fly whilst ill. The apology is discussed in a post on “Budget Airline Watch”.
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Journalism and regulation
The PCC has reported the first two adjudications of the year: Mrs Sally Johnson v Hull Daily Mail was Not Upheld under clauses 3, 4, 9 (11/01/2013) but Mr George Tainsh v Alloa and Hillfoots Wee County News was Upheld under clauses 1 and 2 (09/01/2013).
In the complaint against the Hull Daily Mail, which was not upheld, the complainant raised concerns about her identification in articles about legal proceedings about her husband and separately about the treatment of her husband by a journalist. Interestingly, the Commission was able to consider the complaint about an article from 2011 because, like the 2012 article, it remained online.
In the complaint against Hillfoots Wee County News, the Commission found that “the newspaper had failed to demonstrate that it had taken care not to publish inaccurate or misleading information” in a story suggesting that the complainant and Ochil View Housing Association “were suspects in a police investigation into allegations of fraud involving thousands of pounds“. In fact, the Commission found, internal documents supplied by the newspaper “strongly indicated to the contrary“: “they recorded that the complainant had been present at meetings where the matter had been discussed, and that he had provided the committee with updates on both internal and external investigations. There was no reference to potential disciplinary action against him or any member of staff“.
There are also a number of resolved cases: A woman v Lancashire Telegraph (Clauses 1, 3, 11/01/2013); A man v The Sun (Clauses 4, 5, 6, 11/01/2013); Mrs Emma Drury-Ward v Chat (Clause 1, 11/01/2013); Ms Tina Hallett & Mr Jonathan Apps v Daily Mail (Clause 1, 11/01/2013); A man v Daily Mail (Clauses 1, 3, 11/01/2013); Sarah Cookv Easy Living, (Clause 3, 11/01/2013); Mr Joe Cooke v The Daily Telegraph (Clause 1, 11/01/2013); Mr Bruce Elliott v The Daily Telegraph (Clause 1, 07/01/2013).
Kickstarter has highlighted a selection of journalism projects, crowd-funded across the world.
Broadcast journalist Andrew Marr is making progress following a stroke, reports the BBC.
The crossword setter Araucaria, who has been writing crosswords for over 50 years, has revealed that he has cancer. Guardian cryptic crossword No 25,842, which originally appeared in crossword magazine 1 Across in December, instructed readers that “Araucaria has 18 down of the 19, which is being treated with 13 15” (cancer, oesophagus and palliative care). “For as long as he can, Araucaria intends to carry on conjuring up several puzzles a month,” the Guardian reports.
In response to journalists moaning about PRs, Lorna Gozzard has come up with things that annoy PRs about journalists, in a blog post for PR Week.
Discussion, research & resources
- Text and video from Baroness Onora O’Neill’s speech at UCL, 28 November 2011 – “Media Freedoms & Media Standards”.
- 5RB has uploaded its 1000th case report to its website case library. On average, there have been 125 case reports per year, since launch in 2004.
- Ray Corrigan on the potential for Digital rights cyberlaw clinics
- Freedom of Expression Turned on its Head? Academic Social Research and Journalism in the European Union’s Privacy Framework, David Erdos, University of Oxford – Faculty of Law, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies [Pre-print of article published in Public Law (January 2013, pp. 52-73)]
- BBC Radio 4 Start the Week: Family Secrets with Sarah Dunant and Deborah Cohen – lies and secrets, and the increasing blurring of public and private.
- A debate around ex tempore judgments and their reporting at the UK Human Rights Blog
In the Courts
The Sun was successful in challenging an order in the Family Division of the High Court on 8 January 2012. According to PA Media Lawyer, the media was not notified of a hearing in which an order was made banning the identification of Bristol City Council or social workers involved in the case. The council subsequently agreed to being named. The judge said the media should be able to publish the names of a key social worker and her team manager. [Press Gazette, PA Media Lawyer, The Sun].
On 8 January, Kate Winslet’s husband, Ned Rocknroll, successfully obtained an injunction stopping the Sun printing photographs taken at a private fancy dress party. Mr Justice Briggs will give his reasons at a later date [Lexology, PA Media Lawyer].
16 January 2013, all day, Community Journalism Conference – Enabling and Empowering Communities, Cardiff University, Bute Building, Cardiff.
21 January 2013, 6.30pm, POLIS/Linklaters Public Lecture – Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich – Chrystia Freeland, Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE, London.
25 January 2013, 1.45pm, Legislation as Data, The Open Data Institute, 65 Clifton St, The City, London.
30 January 2013, 7pm, You Can’t Listen to this Talk with Nick Cohen, QMUL Atheism, Secularism & Humanism Society and QMUL Literature Society, London.
31 January 2013, 6.30pm, Marketing Medicine Online: Social Media and Pharma, Polis / Human Digital, Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, LSE, London.
5 April 2013, Polis Journalism Conference, LSE, London.
Know of any media law events happening in the next few months? Please let Inforrm know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Ireland: Paul Tweed, a media-specialist solicitor at Johnsons, has given some broad detail about his clients in the Republic. “Politicians are only the second biggest professional group seeking his services. The largest group are journalists on the receiving end of online abuse; the third group are celebrities,” reports the Irish Examiner. Tweed also acted for Declan Ganley, entrepreneur and founder of the political party Libertas in what has been claimed as as the first defamation settlement involving Twitter in the Republic of Ireland. Blogger Kevin Barrington is reported to have apologised and paid a donation to Ganley’s nominated charity.
India: Journalists were banned from court in all preliminary and full hearings of the five men accused of raping and killing a young student in New Delhi [PA Media Lawyer].
United States: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will close an investigation into alleged “search bias” by Google that its changed features were justified, even though rivals may have been harmed [Out-Law.com].
Next week in the courts
On Monday 14 January 2013 at 2.00pm HHJ Moloney QC will hand down judgment in the case of Gatt v Barclays Bank (heard 12 to 15 November 2012)
On Tuesday 15 January 2013 there is an application in the case of Campbell v Telegraph Media Group – the case brought by Naomi Campbell in relation to an article claiming that she planned an elephant polo competition in India. The case is discussed in the “Guardian“.
On the same day there is the hearing of the application and appeal in the Court of Appeal in the case of Tesla Motors v BBC (Maurice Kay, Moore-Bick and Rimer LJJ)
On Wednesday 16 January 2013 there is an application for committal in the privacy injunction case of SKA v CRH.
On Thursday 17 January 2013 there is a disclosure application in the case of Hunt v Times Newspapers.
Next week in Parliament
Monday 14 January, 2.30pm, Legislation, Crime and Courts Bill [HL] – Second reading, Main Chamber, House of Commons.
Tuesday 15 January, 3.30pm, Legislation, Defamation Bill – Committee stage (Day 3) – Lord McNally, Grand Committee, House of Lords. The latest list of Amendments can be found here.
Tuesday 15 January, 3.15pm, Communications, Subject: Media Convergence. Witness(es): (at 3.30pm) Ms Lara Fielden, Visiting Fellow, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism; and (at 4.30pm) Mr Simon Pitts, Director of Strategy and Transformation, and Mr Magnus Brooke, Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs, ITV.
Location: Committee Room 2, Palace of Westminster. Select committee, House of Lords.
Thursday 17 January, 2pm, Legislation – Defamation Bill – Committee stage (Day 4) – Lord McNally, Grand Committee, House of Lords.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
Iqbal v Mansoor, heard 31 October 2012 (Rix, Etherton and Lewison LJJ)
Tamiz v Google, heard 3 and 4 December 2012 (Master of the Rolls, Richards and Sullivan LJJ)
Citation PLC -v- Ellis Whittam Limited, heard 5 December 2012 (Laws, Arden and Tomlinson LJJ)
Rothschild v Associated Newspapers heard 12 and 13 December 2012 (Laws, McCombe LJJ and Eady J)
Waterson v Lloyd & Anor heard 17 and 18 December 2012 (Laws, Richards and McCombe LJJ)
Also on Inforrm last week
- Case Law, Court of Human Rights, Yildrim v Turkey – Closing down of “Google Sites” breached Article 10
- News: Metropolitan Police Officer convicted of misconduct over attempted sale of phone hacking information
- Case comment: R v Faraz – Terrorist publications and free speech in the Court of Appeal – Edward Craven
- News: Leveson Recommendations – the Information Commissioner responds and the Press misreports
- Lessons from Motorman, Part 3, Government action and inaction – Julian Petley
- Lessons from Motorman, Part 4: Investigative Journalism and Conclusion – Julian Petley
- News: Hacked Off publishes its Draft Leveson Bill
- Leveson: The real ‘elephant in the room’ is concentrated ownership – Des Freedman and Justin Schlosberg
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 email@example.com.