Law and Media Round Up – 28 October 2013

28 10 2013

New Round UpThe phone hacking saga has now moved back to the centre of the news agenda.  Next week the first phone hacking trial begins.  This has already been dubbed the “trial of the century”.  We had a post yesterday about the forthcoming trial. 

Media consultant David Banks has promised a daily digest of reports about the trial and Hacked Off has its own court reporter, Martin Hickman, to produce daily bulletins.

It now appears that the prosecution opening will not begin until Wednesday 30 October 2013. By a strange coincidence, this is day on which the Privy Council will finally grant the Royal Charter which seeks to implement the press regulation recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry.

It appears that last minute proposals by Conservative ministers to further amend the Royal Charter have been rejected by the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats and the that the Charter will now be granted in the form in which it was published on 11 October 2013.

Meanwhile, another secret recording published by Exaro News, suggests that the total cost to News Corporation of the phone hacking scandal may reach £1 billion.  There was a report on this story in the Press Gazette.

The Lawyer reports that Ineos, the owners of the Grangemouth petrochemical plant, have instructed Slaughter and May in relation to a libel claim against the Unite trade union.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

On 22 October 2013 a Statement in Open Court was finally made in the case of Lord McAlpine v Sally Bercow before Tugendhat J. This follows a settlement announced on 24 May 2013 immediately following the handing down of a judgment in which it was held that Ms Bercow’s tweet was, indeed, defamatory of the claimant.  We had a post on this judgment at the time.  The statement was extensively reported, for example by the Guardian, the Independent and the Press Gazette,

On 24 October 2013 there was a Statement in Open Court in the case of Lord McAlpine v Alan Davies in respect of a tweet, to his £450,000 followers,  He agreed to pay damages of £15,000.  There were reports of this statement in, inter alia, the Independent, the Mirror and on BBC News.

Journalism and regulation

There have been six adjudications by the Press Complaints Commission this week,

There were 6 resolved complaints, all under clause 1 of the Code:  Eric Joyce MP v Falkirk Herald, Mr David Hoar v Hackney Gazette; Mr David Hoar v Daily Mail Mr Adam Morgan v Sunday Mirror; Jill Finney v The Independent; Jill Finney v The Sun

In the Courts

On Monday 21 October 2013 Mann J heard an application by the claimants in the phone hacking litigation and made a disclosure order against the Metropolitan Police.

On 22 October 2013, Tugendhat J handed down judgment in the privacy case of PNM v Times Newspapers ([2013] EWHC 3177 (QB)).  The order was refused.  There is a 5RB case note.

On Wednesday 23 October 2013 there was a meaning an application in the case of Rufus v Elliott before Dingemans J. Judgment was reserved.

On 24 October 2013 Tugendhat J handed down judgment in the libel case of Briggs v Jordan ([2013] EWHC 3205 (QB)) which was heard 17 October 2013. The judge held that the words complained of were not capable of being defamatory and struck out the action.  There is a 5RB case note.

The case of Mitchell MP v News Group – which concerns relief from sanctions for further to file a costs budget – has now been allocated a panel of judges in the court of appeal, The Master of the Rolls, Richards and Elias LJJ.  It is fixed for 7 November 2013.

Events

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 later this summer or in the autumn? Please let Inforrm know: inforrmeditorial@gmail.com.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Australia: In Younan v Nationwide News ([2013] NSWCA 335) the Court of Appeal of New South Wales allowed the plaintiff’s appeal based on a late application to amend.

In Toben v Nationwide News ([2013] NSWSC 1530) McCallum J struck out certain particulars in a libel action.  In particular, she noted that an allegation that the plaintiff’s conduct was “abhorrent and should be condemned universally” should be struck out as being rhetorical.

Denmark  The Eastern High Court has dismissed a libel claim brought by journalist George Dragsdahl against historian Bent Jensen who had accused him of being an agent for the KGB.

Fiji:  In the case of Khan v Mohammed ([2013] FJHC 542) the judge revused to grant an order that the first defendant remove the content of a website created by proxy because he could not establish that the first defendant owned or maintained the website.  However, the court granted an order restraining the first defendant from publishing any false defamatory material in any form on the basis that the issue of justification was not affected by the order.

Malta: The Malta Independent on Sunday has successfully defended a libel case brought by companies which were accused in court proceedings of operating a Ponzi scheme.  However, another court has fined two journalists €2,500 for libel and a further €1,800 for delaying the trial of the case.

Namibia: Judgment has been reserved in claim by the Minister of Works and Transport, Erkki Nghimtina against the weekly publication Informanté.  The defendant accepted that the allegations were false but relied on the defence of responsible publication.

New Zealand: On 15 October 2013, judgment was handed down in the case of Cabral v Beacon Printing ([2013] NZHC 2684).  The judge struck out the defence of qualified privilege.

Next week in the courts

The trial in the case of Seok v Tong which was due to begin on 28 October 2013 has been adjourned.

On 29 October 2013 there will be an application in the case of Hussein v Hussein

On 30 October 2013 there will be an application in the case of Krause v Newsquest Media Group.

On 31 October 2013 there will an application in the case of Bedi v Karim.

On 1 November 2013 there will an application in the case of Otuo v The Watchtower.

Next week in Parliament

At 10.30am on 29 October 2013 the House of Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee will hear evidence on Online Safety from Stella Creasy MP; Nicholas Lansman, Secretary General, Internet Service Providers Association, Dido Harding, Chief Executive Officer, TalkTalk and Hamish Macleod, Chair, Mobile Broadband Group; Jim Gamble, Independent Chair of the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Board.

At 3.15pm n the same day the House of Lords Communications Committee will hear evidence on Media plurality from the Newspaper Society: Mr Adrian Jeakings, Chief Executive, Archant, and President of the Newspaper Society; Ms Geraldine Allinson, Chairman, KM Group; and Mr Ashley Highfield, Chief Executive Officer, Johnston Press and from Mr Robert Beveridge, University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China.

At 9.30 am on 31 October 2013 there will be DCMS questions in the House of Commons.

Judgments

The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:

Shathri v Guardian News and Media, 4 July 2013 (Nicola Davies J).

Rufus v Elliott, 23 October 2013 (Dingemans J)


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