Media and Law Round UpThe round up is back, following a break over Easter.  The Defamation Bill is now coming to the end of its passage through Parliament. On 16 April 2013 it will be back before the Commons on “ping pong”, the stage at which the Commons considers new amendments made by the House of Lords. As Inforrm noted here, in a post examining the detail of the Amendments, there were 16 Lords Amendments. Conservative MP and former Solicitor-General, Sir Edward Garnier, has sought to remove Amendment 2.

The Libel Reform campaign has condemned the proposal to remove the clause which would require corporations to show financial damage before they can sue for libel. The Media Reform Coalition argues that the clauses are crucial: “Without a requirement to show damage, there is a danger that companies can use libel courts as an arm of their PR operations, simply suppressing what they don’t want in the public sphere“.

The first High Court hearing in Lord McAlpine’s defamation claim against Sally Bercow will take place on Tuesday, as the Guardian reports here.

25 Bedford Row reports that John Cooper QC, instructed by Pinder Reaux, has obtained a “six figure settlement” for the actress Lynda Bellingham over online statements made online about the Claimant and her husband. The outcome followed a mediation held in London.

A crime reporter at the Medway Messenger successfully challenged an automatic anonymity order in the Youth Court, reports HoldtheFrontPage. The 17 year old football fan was banned from football grounds for five years for jumping onto an opposition team’s goalkeeper during a match at Gillingham FC’s ground, Priestfield.

Since our last round up, Mrs Justice Sharp has been appointed to the Court of Appeal. Inforrm noted that Mr Justice Tugendhat, the Judge in Charge of the Jury List (due to retire in October 2014) and Mr Justice Nicol are now the only former media law practitioners dealing with cases at first instance in the High Court. The promotions to the Court of Appeal also included Mr Justice Vos (the judge who is currently managing the phone hacking litigation in the Chancery Division) and Mr Justice Fulford (the judge who has been presiding in the trials arising out of Operation Weeting and Operation Eleveden).

Matthew Nicklin and Justin Rushbrooke of 5RB have been appointed as QCs.  There is a short announcement here.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

Lady Nora Colthurst has received a public apology and damages at the High Court last Wednesday over defamatory allegations published on a blog in 2005. The defendent, Rachel Myers, withdrew her allegations unreservedly and apologised to Lady Colthurst “for the distress and embarrassment which this matter caused [the Claimant].” PA Media Lawyer reported the apology and the statement by the Claimant’s counsel, Kate Wilson, here.  It was said that Ms Myers

first published her defamatory allegations at a time when Lady Colthurst, following her separation from Sir Charles Colthurst, had left their family home at Blarney Castle, Ireland. The marriage had ended after Sir Charles started a relationship with the defendant’s mother. The defendant’s blog remained online for many years. It only came to Lady Colthurst’s attention in the summer of 2011 after she carried out a Google search on her name. Unsurprisingly, she was very distressed by the defamatory allegations“.

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Journalism and regulation

There have been two new adjudications and numerous resolutions published since our last round up.

In Vernon Kay v Reveal, the television and radio presenter Vernon Kay complained through his representatives, Hackford Jones, about the accuracy of an article headlined “Vernon’s still walking on eggshells“, published in Reveal magazine in July 2013. The complaint was upheld by the Commission. The magazine “stood by the article’s claims, which it said had been obtained from a reliable source“. However, the Commission found that the magazine “had not demonstrated that it had taken care over the accuracy of the story“. Full adjudication decision at this link.

In Ms Treena McIntyre v That’s Life, the complaint concerned payment to a relative of a convicted criminal for an article headlined “A moment of madness“, published in January 2013. The Commission upheld the complaint, finding that the magazine was in breach of Clause 16 (Payment to criminals) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. Full adjudication decision at this link.

Neil Turner v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 12/04/2013; Ms Carina Trimingham v Daily Mirror, Clause 1, 11/04/2013; Ms Carina Trimingham v Metro, Clause 1, 11/04/2013; Bath & North East Somerset Council v The Times, Clause 5, 11/04/2013; Warren Hamilton Daily Mai, Clause 1, 11/04/2013; Catherine Whiteside The Scottish Sun, Clauses 1, 5, 11/04/2013; Ms Lynne Hales v Daily Mail, Clause 6, 11/04/2013; Emilie Sandy v The Citizen (Gloucester) v The Citizen (Gloucester), Clause 5, 11/04/2013; North Wales Fire and Rescue Service v Liverpool Daily Post (Welsh Edition), Clause 1, 10/04/2013; A woman v Yorkshire Post, Clause 1, 9, 08/04/2013; David Lant v The Daily Telegraph, Clause 1, 08/04/2013; Dr Rachel Frosh v Daily Mail, Clauses 1, 2, 08/04/2013; Mr Andrew Larkey v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 08/04/2013;

Mrs Melanie Taylor v The Daily Telegraph, Clause 1, 08/04/2013; Mr William Ross v The Sun, Clause 1, 08/04/2013; Mr William Ross v The Scotsman, Clause 1, 08/04/2013; Mr Dave Stanway v The Sun, Clause 1, 08/04/2013; Miss Katey Walker v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 08/04/2013; Mr Terry Butler The Sun, Clause 1, 08/04/2013; Wood Green, The Animal Charity v The Mail on Sunday, Clause 1, 08/04/2013; Ms Ruth Adams v Western Morning News, Clause 1, 08/04/2013; Ms Ruth Adams v The Sun, Clause 1, 08/04/2013; Ms Ruth Adams v Herald Express (Torquay), Clause 1, 08/04/2013; Mr Thomas Ledger v Yorkshire Evening Post, Clause 1, 02/04/2013; v Management Today, Clause 1, 01/04/2013;

Mr D C Cozens v South Wales Evening Post, Clause 1, 29/03/2013; Miss Stacy McGee v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 28/03/2013; A woman v Daily Mirror, Clause 9, 28/03/2013; A woman v Daily Mail, Clause 9, 28/03/2012; Miss Ffion Jones v Wales Online, Clause 1, 3, 28/03/2013; The Natural Hydration Council v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 28/03/2013; Mr Andrew Marshall v Grimsby Telegraph, Clauses 1, 2, 3, 4, 28/03/2013; Mr Gordon Brown v The Sun, Clause 1, 28/03/2013; Mrs Jessica Whittaker v Daily Mail, Clauses 1, 3, 5, 28/03/2013; Mr Sam Boughen v Daily Mirror, Clause 1, 27/03/2013; Mr Sam Boughen v The Sun, Clauses 1, 3, 27/03/2013; Mr Sam Boughen v The Daily Telegraph, Clauses 1, 3, 6, 27/03/2013; Dr Helen Hammond v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 26/03/2013.

Discussion, research & resources

In the Courts

No judgment on the merits was given in Smith v Dha [2013] EWHC 838 (QB) (12 April 2013), a defamation case concerning a discussion on an internet forum, following the Claimant’s death. As LexisWeb summarises here, the judge found that the cause of action had abated upon the date of the death of the claimant and there was no provision within the CPR to backdate any subsequent judgment.

On 11 April 2013 Maurice Kay LJ refused permission to appeal in the case of Mengi v Hermitage.

Sentencing remarks have been given in R -v- News Group Newspapers Limited. NGN pleaded guilty to one offence under section 52B(1)(a)and(2) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 relating to the reporting of Andrew Partington’s case following a preliminary hearing at the Oldham magistrates’ court. The judge found that the offending occurred when The Sun newspaper published “many details of the case involving Mr Partington that clearly went way beyond what was permitted“. The judge concluded that the appropriate penalty in this case is a fine of £3,350.00 together with a victim surcharge of £120.00 and prosecution costs of £500.00.


18 April 2013, 11KBW Information Law Conference, The Royal College of Surgeons of England, London.

22 April 2013, IBC Legal’s 20th Anniversary Defamation & Privacy conference, Grange Tower Bridge Hill, London.

1 May 2013, The Fifth Northumbria Information Rights Conference: Changing Notions of Privacy, Northern Design Centre, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.

2 May 2013, Reporting Mental Health and Suicide by the Media, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

9 May 2013, Valuing the BBC: A half day seminar, City University London.

9 May 2013, The Theft of Creative Content: Copyright in Crisis – Department of Law and PRS for Music public debate, LSE, London.

16-17 May 2013, Legal frontiers in digital media: the sixth annual conference on emerging legal issues surrounding digital publishing and content distribution, Stanford University, Paul Brest Hall, Stanford, California.

23-24 May 2013,Social Media, Regulation and Freedom of Expression: A comparative perspective”. A workshop organized by HKBU and Tsinghua University, Communication & Visual Arts Building, Hong Kong Baptist University. Hong Kong.

31 May 2013, Rethinking Media and Journalism Practice, University of Winchester

10 June 2013, Caught in the web: how free are we online?, Kings Place, London.

24-25 June 2013, The Constitution of the Public Sphere: the post-Leveson Landscape (W G Hart Legal Workshop 2013), Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London.

26-27 September 2013, Jersey Law Via the Internet 2013, Radisson Blu Hotel, Jersey.

Know of any media law events happening in the next few months? Please let Inforrm know:

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Bangladesh: Four Bangladeshi bloggers are being held on suspicion of “harming religious sentiment”, reports Index on Censorship. In a separate incident last Thursday, the editor of a pro-opposition newspaper in Dhaka was arrested on accusations of inciting religious tension, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Zimbabwe: reports that a woman has brought a defamation claim for US$10 000 from a man “who allegedly called her a prostitute in the presence of her husband“. According to the news report, the defendant denies making the statement.

Next week in the courts

On Monday 15 April 2013 there was a pre-trial review before Simon J in the libel case of Hunt v Times Newspapers.  This is due to be tried on 29 April 2013, with a time estimate of 3 weeks.

On Tuesday 16 April 2013 there will be a meaning application in the case of McAlpine v Bercow, before Tugendhat J.

On Thursday 18 April 2013 there will be a pre-trial review in the case of Cruddas v Times Newspapers.

On Friday 19 April 2013 there will be a further case management conference in the phone hacking litigation,before Vos J.

Next week in Parliament

Tuesday 16 April 2013, 11.30am, Legislation – Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill – Consideration of Lords amendments, Main Chamber, House of Commons.

Tuesday 16 April 2013, 11.30am, Legislation – Defamation Bill – Consideration of Lords amendments, Main Chamber, House of Commons.

Tuesday 16 April 2013, 9.30am, Business, Innovation and Skills select committee (HoC). Subject: Open Access. Room 6, Palace of Westminster.

Tuesday 16 April 2013, 11.15am, Culture, Media and Sport select committee (HoC). Subject: Regulation of the press. Witness(es): Rt hon Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Rt hon Oliver Letwin MP; Rt hon Harriet Harman MP, Location: The Thatcher Room, Portcullis House.

Tuesday 16 April, 2.45pm, Home Affairs select committee (HoC). Subject: e-Crime.
Witness(es): David Livingstone, Chatham House, Professor Sadie Creese, Oxford Cyber Security Centre and Dr Ian Brown, Oxford Internet Institute; Anthony Browne, Chief Executive, British Bankers Association, Matthew Allan, Director, Financial Crime, British Bankers Association and Katy Worobec, Head, Fraud Control, Financial Fraud Action UK
Location: The Grimond Room, Portcullis House.


We are not aware of any outstanding media law reserved judgments.

Also on Inforrm last fortnight

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