Rupert Murdoch has claimed he was “overly emotional” in comments he made about the police investigation into alleged payments by journalists to public officials that were secretly recorded and reported in Private Eye and by Exaro News (see Press Gazette on the chronology of the story here).
Nonetheless, in two letters to MPs Murdoch said he felt the police response had been disproportionate. The Guardian has published the text of the letters to the chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, John Whittingdale MP, and the chair of the home affairs select committee, Keith Vaz MP, here and here.
Six journalists appeared in court on 18 July over alleged payments to public officials, including the first non-News International journalist. Press Gazette reported the cases here. All the defendants were released on bail to appear at the Old Bailey on 6 August.
The Independent continues its reporting on the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) report revealing details about “blue-chip” companies’ use of private investigators and Soca’s resistance to publicly identifying the names of relevant organisations to the House of Commons Home Affairs select committee [see correspondence with the Soca here – PDF]. Brown Moses’ hacking blog dug into some of the detail here; while Zelo Street dissects the press coverage here.
According to a number of reports, the law firm Russells Solicitors has apologised for leaking JK Rowling’s identity as the author of the novel The Cuckoo’s Calling. Her publisher and agent have denied that it was part of a marketing ploy. There was an interesting debate around the privacy implications of the revelations, on Twitter and the Jack of Kent and Lawyer Watch blogs.
The president of a teaching union, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, is pursuing a defamation claim against The Sunday Times over an article reporting claims that he was involved in an underhand deal at his school, according to Press Gazette.
5RB has announced that it will be moving towards the end of the year to 5 Gray’s Inn Square, from its home at 5 Raymond Buildings.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of any Statements in Open Court this week.
Journalism and regulation
Roy Greenslade noted a number of forthcoming high profile departures at the Independent, following the announcement of 27 redundancies.
Freelance journalist Sheron Boyle reports on developments following her Press Gazette article highlighting the practice of ‘byline banditry’. According to Boyle, she has been told by the Sun’s new editor that the newspaper will now change its policy in all editorial departments.
A row has broken out over the NUJ’s position on council run newspapers after it announced its opposition to new measures proposed in the Local Audit and Accountability Bill. The Newspaper Society supports the government’s plans. An NUJ chapel member defends the Union’s position here. More debate can be found on Press Gazette here.
A new campaign launched by the Federation of Entertainment Unions, “Creating Without Conflict“, is asking media workers to share their experiences about bullying in the workplace. The survey, which can be found at this link, is open until 26 July.
Ofcom has published a consultation on proposed general procedures for investigating breaches of broadcast licences. It is open until 27 September 2013 and can be found here.
Chris Huhne and Carina Trimingham’s complaints under Clause 3 against five titles were not upheld [v the Sun; the Daily Telegraph; Daily Mail; Daily Mirror; Sunday Mirror]. The complaints, regarding the publication of photographs which depicted Huhne and Trimingham in and around the grounds of an open prison where the former was an inmate, were not upheld. The Commission found that it “could not agree that the locations in which the complainants had been photographed were private places” for the purposes of the Editors’ Code. Additionally, “Mr Huhne’s trial, conviction and imprisonment – and the indirect but central role that his relationship with Ms Trimingham had played in the crime’s coming to light – had been the subject of wide publicity“. It said: “neither the photographs nor the articles revealed any additional information about the complainants or their relationship which was intrinsically private“.
The PCC then published its adjudication on a separate complaint made by Alexandra and Georgia Pryce, with the consent of Vicky Pryce, against The Daily Telegraph regarding a photograph it published on its website on 20 March 2013 and in print on 21 March 2013. It found that there was no breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 4 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
The Commission said it “could not agree” with the complainants that the location was private for the purposes of the Clause 3. The Commission’s press summary noted that “her trial, conviction and imprisonment had been the subject of widespread coverage and remained a matter of legitimate public interest … and that the photograph did not reveal any additional information about Ms Pryce which was intrinsically private“. In regards to the complaint of harassment it concluded that the photograph had not been taken in circumstances of harassment, and the publication of the photograph in print and online did not breach Clause 4 of the Code.
There were also a number of resolved cases:
Mr Graham Holland v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 19/07/2013; A woman v Daily Mail, Clause 1, 18/07/2013; A man v The Sun, Clauses 1, 3, 18/07/2013; Ms Salena Earwaker v Kent & Sussex Courier (Tonbridge), Clauses 3, 9, 18/07/2013; Miss Jennifer Lavender v Herald Express (Torquay), Clause 1, 18/07/2013; Ms Beverley Clark v Sunday Post, Clause 1, 18/07/2013; Mr Paul Muschett v Uxbridge Gazette, Clause 1, 18/07/2013; Mr John Knight v The Sun, Clauses 1, 3, 5, 1; Irish Traveller Movement in Britain v Worksop Guardian, Clause 1, 18/07/2013; Simon Ip v The Sun, Clause 1, 16/07/2013.
Commentary, research & resources
- Padraig Reidy, Index on Censorship: Pippa Middleton and Britain’s parody problem
- Jack of Kent: Can J.K. Rowling sue for breach of confidentiality?
- Justin Schlosberg, New Statesman: David Kelly, ten years on: A spectacular failure of accountability
- New issue of Journal of Media Law, Volume 5, Number 1, July 2013 (subscription required)
ECtHR Factsheet: Protection of journalistic sources [PDF]
- Media Standards Trust: Analysis of IPSO [PDF]
- Jasmit Shahi, LSE POLIS blog, Reporting Sri Lanka – The Truth That Wasn’t There
- Michael Cross, Law Society Gazette, Open justice? Open court listings would be a start
- Mark Pearson, JournLaw blog, Shield laws might not protect bloggers and citizen journalists
- Freedom of the Press Foundation, on how a ruling in the Bradley Manning case ‘could adversely affect journalists and whistleblowers’
- Keir Starmer, Speech: Prosecutorial Discretion and the Rule of Law [PDF], 16 July 2013, Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law.
- New article: David Rolph, University of Sydney Law School, Splendid Isolation? Australia as a Destination for ‘Libel Tourism’ [SSRN]
- John Preston, Daily Telegraph, The Murky World of Literary Libel
In the Courts
On 16 July 2013, Nicola Davies J heard an application in the case of Waterson v Lloyd.
On the same day the Court of Human Rights gave judgment in three cases relating to freedom of expression and media: Nagla v Latvia – 73469/10 – Chamber Judgment  ECHR 688 (16 July 2013); Wergrzynowski and Smolczewski v Poland – 33846/07 – Chamber Judgment  ECHR 690 (16 July 2013) and Remuszko v Poland – 1562/10 – Chamber Judgment  ECHR 689 (16 July 2013).
On 18 July Mackay J heard an application in the case of WXY v Gewanter and Tugendhat J heard an application in the case of Flood v Times Newspapers.
On the same day there was the Seventeenth Case Management Conference in the phone hacking litigation, the first taking place before the new managing judge, Mann J.
On Friday 19 July 2013, the Court of Appeal considered a renewed application for permission to appeal in the case of Miller v Associated Newspapers. Permission to appeal to the CA was granted by Longmore LJ. PA Media Lawyer has a report here [£].
22 July 2013, 5-7pm. Index on Censorship: Free speech, Mass Surveillance and Modern Media. How free are we and who decides? [for young people between 14-20 years old], Deptford.
25 July 2013, 6.30pm, Index on Censorship / Doughty Street Chambers: NSA, surveillance, free speech and privacy, 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
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
Argentina: The Buenos Aires Herald reports that the Supreme Court is about to rule on the constitutionality of the 2009 Media Law. The Court of Appeal had ruled that regulation of the cable television market – dominated by one company – was unconstitutional.
Columbia: The criminal libel conviction of the editor of Cundinamarca Democrática newspaper has been overturned. Luis Agustín González had been sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined 9.5 million pesos (US$5,450) for criticising a former state governor in an editorial in 2008, as RSF reports here.
Hong Kong: In Oriental Press Group Ltd & Others v Fevaworks Solutions Ltd& Others HKCFA 47, 4 July 2013, the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal held that an internet forum provider is not like a notice board owner and not a first or main publisher, but qualifies as a subordinate publisher entitled to rely on the defence of innocent dissemination. Inforrm discussed the case here.
Italy: The Independent reports that Roberto Calderoli, the Italian senator who compared the country’s first black minister to an orangutan, is being investigated for defamation by prosecutors.
Jamaica: The former head of the Press Association of Jamaica is reported as saying that the proposed defamation bill will do little to help the media uncover corruption and expose those who misuse public trust.
Liberia: The Supreme Court has ruled that a $1.5 million verdict against the FrontPage Africa newspaper should be enforced. A lower court ruling in 2010 found the paper guilty of libelling former Agriculture Minister J. Christopher Toe.
Macedonia: The Macedonian Journalists Association and other groups representing journalists have urged the Government to withdraw a new media law. They are concerned, in particular, by a proposed new regulatory body that would have the jurisdiction to revoke broadcasting licenses and invoke punishments based on “citizens’ interests”.
New Zealand: The defamation claim brought journalist Jon Stephenson against the Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, has ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict. Mr Stephenson had written an article in Metro magazine in 2011 claiming that Kiwi forces in Afghanistan were complicit in handing over detainees to authorities known to use torture. Shortly after publication the Defence Force released a media statement saying parts of the story were untrue or inaccurate. Mr Stephenson said later that he was “pretty sure” that he would be seeking a retrial.
Russia: The blogger and journalist Alekei Navalny was sentenced to five years in prison following a conviction for embezzlement. The Committee to Protect Journalists, among many other groups, called for his release. He has since been released on bail pending an appeal.
Trinidad and Tobago: On 18 July 2013 former police commissioner Nizam Mohammed was awarded damages of TT$325,000 (£33,143) in respect of an article published on 23 July 2010.
Next week in the courts
There will be a hearing in Kearns v Kemp on 24 July 2013. The background to the action can be found in the defendant’s blog post here.
There is an application in the case of Karpoff v Browder on the same day
On Friday 26 July 2013 there is a Pre-Trial Review in the case of Norbrook Laboratories Ltd v Vetplus Ltd.
Next week in Parliament
Tuesday 23 July, 2.30pm, Legislation – Intellectual Property Bill [HL] – Report stage – Viscount Younger of Leckie, Main Chamber, House of Lords.
Tuesday 23 July, 10.30am, Mental Capacity Act 2005 House of Lords select committee. Witness(es): (at 10.40am) evidence will be heard from Jonathan Senker, Chief Executive, VoiceAbility; Steve Gray, Director of Operations, Asist; Elyzabeth Hawkes ,Regional Manager, POhWER. Location: Committee Room 2, Palace of Westminster
Tuesday 23 July, 3.15pm, Communications select committee. Subject: Media plurality,
Witness(es): (at 3.30 pm) evidence will be heard from Mr James Heath, Director of Policy and Mr Daniel Wilson, Head of International Policy, BBC Executive; and at 4.30 pm from Mr Magnus Brooke, Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs, ITV; Mr Dan Brooke, Director of marketing and communications, Channel 4; and Mr Marcus Lee, Director of Legal and Commercial Affairs, Channel 5. Location: Committee Room 2, Palace of Westminster.
The House of Commons is in recess. The House will next sit on Monday 02 September 2013.
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)
Waterson v Lloyd, 16 July 2013 (Nicola Davies J)
NNN v Ryan 17 July 2013 (Tugendhat J)
Flood v Times Newspapers, 18 July 2013 (Tugendhat J)
Also on Inforrm last week
- Debunking the PBS myth: Media in crisis? – Argyro Karanasiou
- Case Law, Hong Kong, Oriental Press Group v Fevaworks, Provider of Internet Forum is a publisher but has “innocent dissemination” defence
- Hackgate: Witness Protection, Anyone?
- Privy Council and Royal Charters: Constitutional Obfuscation
- Hacked Off and the midnight pizza deal: another silly myth – Brian Cathcart
- Media Standards Trust: analysis of proposals for Independent Press Standards Organisation
- Huhne and Trimingham, “long lens photos don’t invade privacy” – five bad PCC adjudications
- The misunderstandings of the Financial Times – Brian Cathcart
- Australia: The difficult tort of injurious falsehood – Gail Noe
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.