The phone hacking trial of Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and six others began this on Monday 28 October at the Central Criminal Court. The prosecution opening began on Wednesday 30 October and continued through to Friday 1 November. The opening is expected to finish on Monday 4 November. The trial is estimated to last up to 6 months.
We have published trial reports by Martin Hickman on Days 3, 4 and 5 (part 1 and part 2). @peterjukes has been live tweeting the opening with extraordinary speed and detail. The David Banks Media Law Consultancy Blog is providing a daily round up of the press coverage as is the #pressreform blog.
The trial has partly overshadowed the other important media law event of the week: the granting of the Royal Charter on Self-Regulation of the Press [pdf]. Contrary to the reports in almost every newspaper this does not involve any form of statutory regulation of the press but rather establishes a “recognition panel” for self-regulators. The idea that this somehow makes political control of the press more straightforward was definitively dismissed by Professor Gavin Phillipson on Twitter (@Prof_Phillipson) – in less than 140 characters. He said (expanding his Twitter shorthand)
“Politicians control all our freedoms via Parliament and Royal Charter makes not a blind bit of difference. Its so simple”
When not savaging the Royal Charter as an instrument of tyranny, the press have been trying to get one of their own. Their attempt was rejected by a Privy Council Committee as being inconsistent with the Leveson recommendations. PressBoF then sought a judicial review of this decision and applied for an injunction to restrain the granting of the Cross-Party Charter. By a strange coincidence, this application was heard – and comprehensively dismissed – by the High Court on the day that the phone hacking trial began at the Old Bailey. PressBoF has announced that it will appeal.
The next step is the establishment of a Recognition Panel under the Charter. It then remains to be seen whether any regulator will seek recognition. It seems that publishers will continue to move towards the establishment of IPSO – the renegade press self-regulator. As Roy Greenslade put it “Now for the gunfight as Fleet Street defies the will of Parliament”
The London 24 website noted the decision of Dingemans J to refuse to strike out the “football libel” case of Rufus v Elliott ( EWHC 3355 (QB)). The decision did not impress the defendant’s solicitor advocate, David Price QC, who tweeted
The Daily Mail noted the fact that Nat Rothschild’s long running libel action has now come to an end, with the Supreme Court refusing him permission to appeal. We had a post about the Court of Appeal decision by Valerie Paisner.
The Datonomy blog notes the agreement of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to a compromise text of the draft General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). The EP’s press release is here. The Parliament’s lead rapporteur must now negotiate with the Council, whose next meeting of Justice Ministers on data protection will take place on 6 December 2013.
There is now some question as to whether the Data Protection Regulation will meet the June 2014 deadline. The Hawktalk blog argues that this is still possible.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of any Statements in Open Court this week.
Journalism and regulation
There have been no adjudications by the Press Complaints Commission this week. There has been only one resolved complaint in the past week, under clauses 3 and 10 of the Code: Annabelle Fuller v Sunday Times.
The “Angry Mob” blog has a post entitled “Due prominence” about the fact the, despite the provisions of the PCC Code of Practice, corrections are never published with due prominence. It gives the example of this week’s Sun “Clarification and Correction” of a story with the headline “Brussels: UK’s 600,000 benefit tourists is no problem” which acknowledged
“There is no evidence of 600,000 ‘benefit tourists” in the UK. Neither has the European Commission said this would be no problem”
This was published in a corner of page 2 of the paper.
In the Courts
On 30 October 2013 there was an application in the case of Krause v Newsquest Media Group before Tugendhat J. Judgment was reserved.
On 1 November 2013 there was an application in the case of AVB v TDD before Bean J. Judgment was reserved.
As already mentioned, on 1 November 2013, Dingemans J handed down judgment in the case of Rufus v Elliott ( EWHC 3355 (QB)).
28 November 2013: IBC Legal Conference, “Social Media and the Law 2013“, at the Millennium Knightsbridge Hotel, London.
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: email@example.com.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Canada: In the case of Chitrakar v Bell TV ( FC 1103) the Federal Court awarded damages of Can$21,000 in respect of a breach of statutory privacy protections resulting from a credit inquiry carried out without consent. There is a post about the case on the Canadian Privacy Law blog.
Guyana There is a news report of a High Court defamation trial of a claim brought by former President Bharrat Jagdeo against Kaiteur News columnist Fredrick Kissoon, National Media and Publishing Company and editor Adam Harris.
Malta: A former minister and Labour MP, Charles Magnon, has won a damages claim against the Nationalist Party arising out of a press release published in 1988. The Nationalist Party was ordered to pay damages of €1,000, with €500 payable by the former information secretary and €1,000 by the editor of the Nationalist Party daily.
Nigeria: The Enugu High Court has awarded general and exemplary libel damages of N400m (£1,580,000) to the State Governor Sullivan Chime in a claim against Scroll magazine. The Court held that an article published in October 2011 meant that the plaintiff was corrupt, morally bankrupt and having rigged himself into office.
Philippines: The anti-graft office has dismissed a libel complaint filed by a state prosecutor against her colleague and two local journalists.
Spain: It is reported that the Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, has lost a case against a Spanish journalist who had said that he was like a “typical hit and run driver”. The judge said that “the freedom of information and expression of the accused must prevail, so the legal action has been rejected.”
Next week in the courts
On 4 November 2013 Tugendhat J will hear an appeal in the case of Compli With Us Ltd v Healthier Business UK Ltd.
On 5 November 2013 there will be a further hearing in the case of PNM v Times Newspapers Ltd.
On 6 November 2013 there will be another hearing in the long running case of Price v Powell.
On 7 November 2013 the Court of Appeal (Master of the Rolls, Richards and Elias LJJ) will hear the appeal in the case of Mitchell MP v News Group – which concerns relief from sanctions for further to file a costs budget. This is an appeal from a decision of Master McCloud refusing the claimant “relief against sanctions” ( EWHC 2355 (QB))
Next week in Parliament
On 5 November 2013 the House of Lords Communications Committee will hear evidence on “Media Plurality” from Dr. Colm Murphy, Head of School of Media, Film and Journalism, University of Ulster; and Professor Justin Lewis, Professor of Communication, Cardiff School of Media, Journalism and Cultural Studies.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
Shathri v Guardian News and Media, 4 July 2013, (Nicola Davies J).
Krause v Newsquest Media, 30 October 2013, (Tugendhat J)
AVB v TDD 1 November 2013, (Bean J).
Otuo v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1 November 2013 (HHJ Moloney QC)