The phone hacking trial of Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and six others continued at the Central Criminal Court. The prosecution opening concluded on Monday, Day 6 of the trial. On that day Andrew Edis QC explained the “perverting the course of justice” charges (see Martin Hickman’s Report).
Immediately after the prosecution opeening Timothy Langdale QC for Andrew Coulson took the unusual step of opening his client’s case – and telling the jury that his client would be giving evidence in due course. No other defence opening speeches were made.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the jury heard evidence concerning the hacking of the voicemails of Milly Dowler, Sven-Goran Eriksson and David Blunkett. No evidence was heard on Friday and the jury did not sit. The case resumes on 11 November 2013 and is estimated to last up to 6 months.
Following his extraordinary live tweeting of the phone hacking trial, a number of supporters of @peterjukes have organised “crowd funding” of his work and have, to date, raised over £6,000. Donations can be made here. The David Banks Media Law Consultancy Blog is continuing to provide a daily round up of the press coverage as is the #pressreform blog.
Mr Justice Mann gave judgment on Wednesday in some “Mirror phone hacking” cases (Gulati and others v MGN  EWHC 3392 (Ch)). He dismissed applications by Mirror Group to strike out parts of all the claims and dismiss others. We had a post on the judgment. It has been reported that the Mirror titles are facing 55 new phone hacking claims.
On the press regulation front, PressBoF has announced that it is pursuing its application for permission to appeal in claim for judicial review of the decision to reject its Royal Charter. Mysteriously, the application has not yet appeared on the EWCA Case Tracker website.
A member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mike Nesbitt, has a private members bill to try and bring the law of libel in Northern Ireland into line with that in England and Wales. He has a consultation on this. The Libel Reform Campaign has submitted a response [pdf].
Last week we failed, due to editorial oversight, to mention the start of broadcasting from the Court of Appeal. This was welcomed by the Lord Chief Justice in a statement issued on 31 October 2013. The first broadcast was of a Criminal Appeal argued by the Prime Minister’s brother, Alex Cameron QC – reported in the Press Gazette.
Consultation on Costs Protection
As we noted in a post on Thursday 8 November 2013, the Government consultation on costs protection in defamation privacy claims closed on Friday 8 November 2013. We also had a post questioning reports of an opinion poll suggesting that the reform could lead to an increase in vexatious claims.
The Civil Justice Council has responded to the Consultation [pdf] expressing broad agreement with the proposals but noting that they offer scope for satellite litigation.
The Litigation Committee of the City of London Law Society [pdf] has published its response to the consultation. It suggests that, in the absence of criteria as to what constitutes “severe financial hardship” the consultation was premature.
The proposals were also criticised in an article in the Law Society Gazette entitled “The problem with QOCS in defamation and privacy claims” by Kate Manley.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of any Statements in Open Court this week.
Journalism and regulation
There have been two adjudications by the Press Complaints Commission this week:
- A Man v Daily Telegraph: – complaints under clauses 1 and 10 of the Code were not upheld
- Dr Nicholas Russell v Daily Mirror – complaints under clauses 3 and 12 of the Code on behalf of a judge were not upheld. We will have a post about this surprising decision later in the week.
There were 12 resolved PCC complaints as follows: Ms Jean McComb v Sunday World (Clause 1); Mr Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley v The Mail on Sunday (Clause 1); Mrs Julia Litt v The Mail on Sunday (Clause 1); A woman v The Star (Sheffield) (Clauses 3 and 6); Mr Adam Francis v Express & Star (Wolverhampton) (Clauses 1, 3, 4 and 5); Mr Adam John Spears v The Mail on Sunday (Clause 1); Richard Brown v Daily Mirror (Clauses 3 and 5); Ms Tulisa Contostavlos, Lewis Silkin LLP and Mr Jonathan Coad v The Sun (Clause 1); Mrs Anne Darwin v Daily Mirror (Clauses 1 and 3); Mrs Anne Darwin v Sunday Mirror (Clauses 1, 3 and 4); Mr Rohan Agalawatta v Daily Mail (Clause 1); Mr Joseph Haines The Daily Telegraph (Clause 1).
The Media Blog notes a correction by the Daily Mail in relation to Gordon Brown’s expenses claims. It points out that the correction is very substantially smaller than the original article.
In the Courts
On 29 October 2013 HHJ Moloney QC gave permission to amend in the case in Hussain v Hussain. He gave permission to amend to plead words spoken over two years previously (a summary is available on Lawtel [£]).
On 5 November 2013 Tugendhat J reserved judgment on an application in the case of PNM v Times Newspapers Ltd.
On 6 November 2013 Tugendhat J reserved judgment on an application in the case of Price v Powell.
On the same date Mrs Justice Asplin allowed an appeal against strike out by the Master in the defamation case of Kremen v Kastner (a summary is available on Lawtel [£]).
On 7 November 2013 the Court of Appeal (Master of the Rolls, Richards and Elias LJJ) heard the appeal in the case of Mitchell MP v News Group. Judgment was reserved.
On 8 November 2013, HHJ Blackett gave judgment in the case of R v Marines A, B and C, [pdf] removing the anonymity of a number of Marines charged with the murder. The anonymity order, however, remains in place pending an appeal to the Court Martial Appeal Court.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Australia: In the case of Ghosh v Ninemsn ( NSWDC 206), the NSW District Court gave various directions in relation to permission to amend Particulars of Claim in a libel action.
Bermuda: It has been reported that the Deputy Prime Minister is suing the leader of the opposition over comments made on Facebook
Canada: The Canadian Privacy Law Blog notes a decision in the case of R. v. Zarafonitis, 2013 ONCJ 570, concerning the right of the public to video or photograph police officers in public places. The judge said
“The public has a right to use means at their disposal to record their interactions with the police, something that many police services themselves do through in-car cameras and similar technology”.
In the case of Dhillon v. Jaffer, 2013 BCSC 1860 the judge reviewed the case law on the recoverability of interest on awards for damages in defamation cases.
Jamaica: The Press Association has praised the overhaul of the libel and slander law. Both houses of Parliament have now passed legislation amending the law. The House of Representatives passed the Act on 5 November 2013.
Liberia: The Liberian editor who was jailed in August 2013 after failing to pay US$1.5 million in damages to the former agriculture minister has said that the case is likely to settle soon.
Malaysia. The High Court has dismissed a defamation claim filed by lawyer Datuk Mohamad Bustamam Abdullah against Malay Mail Sdn Bhd and its journalist over an article published in the newspaper and its website.
Next week in the courts
On Monday 11 November 2013 Tugendhat J will give judgment on nine applications in Krause v Newsquest Media, (heard 30 October 2013).
On Tuesday 12 November 2013, there is an application in the case of Mireskandari v Centaur Media PLC.
On 14 November 2013 there is an application before Tugendhat J in the case of Contostavlos v Mendahun & ors.
On the same date there is an application in the case of Miontis v Demokratia.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
Shathri v Guardian News and Media, 4 July 2013, (Nicola Davies J).
AVB v TDD 1 November 2013, (Bean J).
Otuo v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1 November 2013 (HHJ Moloney QC)
PNM v Times Newspapers Ltd, 5 November 2013 (Tugendhat J)
Price v Powell, 6 November 2013 (Tugendhat J)
Mitchell MP v News Group, 7 November 2013 (Master of the Rolls, Richards and Elias LJJ)