The biggest media story of the week was the announcement by the press on 8 July 2013 of a proposed new self-regulator, the “Independent Press Standards Organisation”. We had an Inforrm news story about the announcement. Roy Greenslade’s suggested that the announcement enabled the publishers to pull off a PR coup. However, as the LSE Media Policy Blog pointed out, the newspapers did not , the newspapers themselves did not make much of it.
The proposal was condemned by campaigners Hacked Off as a “cynical rebranding exercise”. We had a post by Brian Cathcart about IPSO entitled “Press bullies say ‘get stuffed’ to Leveson and the rule of law” along with two posts by Evan Harris, “Spinning in the Last Chance Saloon: Why the “Son of PCC” regulator fails all the tests”, Part 1 and Part 2. The first attracted was our most popular post of the past month.
A Privy Council meeting took place on 10 July 2013 and it became apparent that the Cross-Party Royal Charter was going to be further delayed. The Press Gazette reported that the PressBoF charter had been referred to a sub-committee for further consideration. The Government subsequently told the House of Lords that the membership of the sub-committee would be announced shortly. It appears that the Cross Party Royal Charter will only be considered after the sub-committee has made its decision on the PressBof version.
On Monday 15 July 2013, there will be a hearing at the Central Criminal Court before Saunders J of the criminal prosecutions in the phone hacking cases. The trial is due to commence on 9 September 2013.
In response to a Parliamentary question from Edward Garnier MP the Government had indicated that it is “taking forward the necessary procedural steps” to enable the Defamation Act 2013 to be brought into force by the end of this year.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of any Statements in Open Court this week.
Journalism and regulation
There were two new PCC adjudications this week:
- Gary and Danielle Lineker v The Sun, This was a complaint under clauses 3 (privacy) and 4 (harassment) after the Sun had contacted relatives and neighbours of the complainants after a “tip” that Mr Linker had left Twitter because of an allegation about his private life. The inquiries did not breach clause 3 and there was no harassment. The PCC put out a press release about this adjudication. There were reports of the adjudication in the Guardian and in the Press Gazette.
- Stewart Frazer v Scotsman and Stewart Frazer v Edinburgh Evening News, The complaint was of a breach of clauses 3 and 6 )(children) as a result of the publication of a photograph which showed the four year-old son of the complainant – a Heart of Midlothian FC supporter – at a football match at the football ground of Hibernian FC, holding a hand-written sign reading “Dad this place is a s***hole!! 5-1. The son’s face was pixelated. The photograph had been posted by the complainant on Facebook. There was not violation of clause 6 because the publication of the photograph contributed the public debate about the free circulation of photographs through social media. There was a public interest in the debate about the complainants’ conduct.
There were thirteen resolved complaints this week brought by: Gordon Brown, John Baron MP Brian Donohoe MP, Mark Johnson, Wonga, Simon Ip, A woman, Mrs Antoinette McKenna, Miss Melissa Thomas, Dr Dharmesh Mistry, A man, Ms Heather Harvey and Ms Heather Harvey.
In the Courts
There was a hearing in the Mobile Telephone Voicemail Interception Litigation on 8 and 9 July 2013 before the new managing judge, Mann J. Judgment was reserved and was handed down on 12 July 2013. There was an Inforrm news item about the judgment.
The trial in the case of Cruddas v Calvert continued before Tugendhat J and concluded on Friday 12 July 2013. Judgment was reserved.
There was a hearing in the case of McGrath v Independent Press on 9 July 2013.
Until 9 July 2013, Co-operatives UK and Carnegie UK Trust events on ‘Make your local news work’, various locations, UK.
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
8-9 April 2014, “1984: Freedom and Censorship in the Media – Where Are We Now?“, Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Sunderland
Know of any media law events happening in the next few months? Please let Inforrm know: email@example.com.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Ireland: A libel action against the Sunday world by Seamus Griffin, a former member of Ireland’s elite Army Ranger Wing, has been settled. Roy Greenslade had a blog post about the settlement.
The remarkable libel action in the case of McCauley v Sunday Times is presently being heard in the Irish Courts. Journalist Brenda Power wrote a column criticising what she described as the “appalling” behaviour of the plaintiff in suing a midwife over the interruption of his filming of the birth of his first baby. There is a report of Ms Power’s evidence in the Irish Independent.
Italy: On June 20, 2013, the Court of Rome found that according to Articles 16 and 17 of Italian Legislative Decree 70/2003, the Wikimedia foundation is a hosting provider, rather than a content provider and therefore could not be liable for content drafted by individual users. A bilingual English-Italian press release can be found here. There is a post about the case on the IPKat blog.
Jamaica: The Senate has passed the amended Defamation Act – which abolishes the distinction between libel and slander.
Malaysia: The High Court dismissed a defamation suit filed by Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad against Wanita Umno information chief Datuk Hamidah Osman over a blog posting that depicted him wearing a bishop’s robe.
Russia: On 9 July 2103, the Russian Constitutional Court in St. Petersburg ruled that website owners are responsible for the removal of defamatory information from their sites even if it was posted by a third party. However, they will not have to assume any financial responsibility. The is a post about the case on the Netprophet site.
Trinidad and Tobago: Roy Greenslade reports a major crisis at the Trinidad Guardian where three senior journalist have resigned in protest at alleged editorial interference by the paper’s owners.
United States: A former Cincinnati Bengal’s cheerleader, Sarah Jones, has won a libel case against the website, thedirty.com, and was awarded US$338,000 in damages. She had sued over two posts, one of which claimed she had sex with every Bengals player, and the other said she probably had two sexually transmitted diseases. As the Huffington Post reported, she said that both claims were and accused website operator Nik Richie of malice.
Next week in the courts
On 18 July 2013, there will be a Case Management Conference in the phone hacking litigation, before Mann J.
On Friday 19 July 2013, the Court of Appeal will consider a renewed application for permission to appeal in the case of Miller v Associated Newspapers.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
Tamiz v Guardian News and Media, 24 June 2013 (Sharp J)
Hodgins v Squire Sanders (UK) LLP, 28 June 2013 (Sharp J)
Shathri v Guardian News and Media, 4 July 2013 (Nicola Davies J).
McGrath v Independent Press, 9 July 2013 (Nicola Davies J)
Cruddas v Calvert, 2 to 5 and 8 to 12 July 2013 (Tugendhat J)