On 3 May 2013, journalists, lawyers, academics and campaigners marked World Press Freedom Day. Article 19 launched ‘The Right to Blog’ – a new policy paper “that calls for lawmakers to better promote and protect the rights of bloggers domestically and internationally“.
It is thought unlikely that a Communication Bill to deal with media ownership, among other issues, will feature in the Queen’s Speech, as reported by the Independent here. Harriet Harman, the shadow culture secretary, has criticised the government for not introducing a bill and told the Independent that “The communications industry is in limbo“. Her comments are reported at length in the Guardian.
An Index on Censorship reports here, a UK police force has named a former officer charged with theft after it originally attempted to keep his name secret. Media law consultant and journalist David Banks provides some context for the debate in a piece for Media Guardian.
Newspaper industry proposals for a Royal Charter on regulation of the press have now been submitted to the Privy Council Office and the government’s proposals, which received cross-party support, have been delayed. The privy council will now hold a “period of openness” in which it will allow the public to respond to the industry Royal Charter, as reported by the BBC and Press Gazette. According to the Privy Council website,
The Press Standards Board of Finance Limited (Pressbof) has submitted to the Privy Council Office a petition for a Royal Charter. As with all Charter petitions, the relevant Government department, in this case the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), will be considering this Charter, drawing in views from other Government departments as required. Prior to DCMS’ consideration of the Charter, comments may be provided on its contents. Any comments on the petition should be sent to DCMS at the following address: email@example.com before 24 May. Following this period, DCMS will consider the Royal Charter, before reaching a view on whether it should proceed to the next stage.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
The Metropolitan Police has agreed to pay substantial damages and costs to Leslie Austin who was wrongly pictured in “wanted” posters after the London riots in 2011, the BBC reported. The Claimant’s solicitor firm, Bindmans, reports here. The full statement in open court can be found here [PDF].
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Journalism and regulation
There is one new adjudication to report The Countess of Mar v The Lancet – a complaint brought by under Clause 1 (accuracy). The Countess of Mar complained to the PCC about the accuracy of an article headlined “Chronic fatigue syndrome: where to PACE from here?”, published on 5 March 2011. It was decided by the Commission that sufficient remedial action had been offered by the publication:
[The journal] had published a reader’s letter which addressed the point under complaint, in addition to the reply from the trial authors, which had confirmed the trial paper “did not report on recovery”. While the Commission formally considered only the complaint regarding the journal’s website, it noted that the correspondence section in the journal was a prominent forum for detailed, fully referenced responses, which allowed correspondents to address the issue under complaint while continuing and developing the complex scientific debate on the subject. It was also appropriate that the comment piece on the journal’s website included prominent links to the responses. In the full circumstances of the complaint – including the nature of the breach – the responses published by the journal, along with its offer to publish a further letter from the complainant, were sufficient to remedy the initial breach of Clause 1.
There were a handful of resolved cases reported: Full Fact v The Sun, Clause 1, 06/05/2013; Mr David Murray v Sutton Guardian, Clause 1, 03/05/2013; A woman v The Sun on Sunday, Clause 9, 03/05/2013; and Dr Carol Uren v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 03/05/2013.
Research & resources
- BBC Radio 4, The Reunion – The Hutton Inquiry
- Information Rights and Wrongs blog: Events page (FoI/data protection)
- New blog: Czech Defamation Law
- Professor Mark Pearson: Press freedom, social media and the citizen: 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Lecture
- Geoffrey Robertson, The Guardian: ‘David Cameron should reject both press charters and opt for an ombudsman’
- Taylor Wessing commentary: Defamation Act 2013 – A boost for free speech
In the Courts
The libel trial in the case of Hunt v Times Newspapers began on 29 April 2013 before Simon J and is listed for three weeks. The Guardian reported on the trial here.
On 29 and 30 April 2013, the Court of Appeal (Master of the Rolls, Tomlinson and Ryder LJJ) heard the appeal in the case of AAA v Associated Newspapers (an appeal from the decision of Nicola Davies J,  EWHC 2224 (QB)). Judgment was reserved.
On 2 May 2013 there was an application in the case of Euromoney plc v Aviation News Ltd. The background to the case was reported in Press Gazette in March. Judgment was rserved
On 3 May 2013, Tugendhat J heard the application on the return date in the case of ABK v KDT & anr. Judgment was reserved.
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.
9 May 2013, Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law seminar Regulating Code: Good Governance and Better Regulation in the Information Age, Cambridge.
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.
23 May 2013, British Institute of International and Comparative Law: The Right to Privacy and the Freedom of the Press: From the European to Domestic Perspectives … and Back, London.
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.
17 September 2013, IBC Legal’s Protecting the Media 2013, 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: email@example.com.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Azerbaijan: The media freedom representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has spoken out against Azerbaijan for not keeping its commitment to decriminalize defamation, as noted by RFE / RL here.
Chad: Blogger Jean Laokolé has been charged with defamation following his arrest by a group of men in civilian clothes and detainment incommunicado for three days, reports PEN International.
Swaziland: The Nation magazine, an independent publisher, and its editor Bheki Makhubu have been found guilty of the crime of contempt of court, fined 400,000 emalangeni (about £28,000), and ordered to pay half of the fine within three days of the decision or be imprisoned for two years, as Dario Milo reports – and comments on – here, for Inforrm.
Next week in the courts
The trial in Hunt v Times Newspapers will continue before Simon J on 7 May 2013.
The trial in Small v Turner is due to commence before Tugendhat J on the same date.
Next week in Parliament
The House of Commons and the House of Lords will next sit on Wednesday 8 May 2013.
Wednesday 8 May 2013, State Opening of Parliament – start of the new session of the parliament. 11.30am Queen’s Speech – Outline of the Government’s policies and proposed legislative programme for the new session. 3.30pm Motion for Humble Address – Debate on the Queen’s Speech, Main Chamber, House of Lords.
Thursday 9 May 2013, 11am, Debate on the address. Constitutional Affairs, Equalities, Home Affairs, Justice and Law – Lord McNally/Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Main Chamber, House of Lords..
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
AAA v Associated Newspapers heard 29 and 30 April 2013 (Master of the Rolls, Tomlinson and Ryder LJJ)
Euromoney plc v Aviation News Ltd heard 2 May 2013 (Tugendhat J)
ABK v KDT & anr, heard 3 May 2013 (Tugendhat J)
Also on Inforrm last week
- Freedom of expression loses in Swaziland case – Dario Milo
- Defamation and Satire – Steven Price
- Paris Brown: A Case in Point for the DPP – Ashley Hurst and Ryan Dolby-Stevens
- Case Law, Strasbourg: Animal Defenders v UK, ban on political advertising does not violate Art 10 – Ronan Ó Fathaigh
- Ten ways in which copyright engages freedom of expression, Part 1, Sliders one to five – Graham Smith
- Ten ways in which copyright engages freedom of expression, Part 2: Sliders six to ten – Graham Smith
- Case Law, Australia: Mahon v Mach 1 Financial Services. Fijian Property Developer’s Case Struck Out – Justin Castelan
- Defamation Act 2013, commencement and some initial reactions
- News: Operation Sacha, Rebekah Brooks’ Former Bodyguard Charged
- News: Northern Ireland and the mystery of the missing Defamation Act
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.