The phone hacking trial of Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and six others continued at the Central Criminal Court. This week saw Days 16, 17, 18 (Parts 1 and 2) and 19 (Parts 1 and 2) of the trial – with no hearing on Friday 22 November 2013. The jury heard evidence about from a number of witnesses including Sun lawyer Justin Walford and a various former News of the World journalists and employees.
A full run down on the evidence given each day can be found on the indispensable #pressreform blog – which reproduces the tweets from the various live tweeters in Court.
The Press Gazette reports that Mark Pritchard MP is planning to sue the Daily Telegraph over a sting which revealed her ask for £3,000 per month as a fee as part of an Albanian business deal. Mr Pritchard accused the newspaper of having an agenda against him because he previously sued the Telegraph and is in favour of the Government’s plan for press regulation.
Index on Censorship highlighted the story of transcriber Lesley Kemp who has successfully defended a libel action brought over a tweet criticising late payment of an invoice. The claimant Kirby Kearns was based in Qatar and dropped the case after being ordered to pay £134,000 security for costs. There were stories about the case in the Daily Telegraph and on the BBC website.
Freedom of Information and Data Protection
Two private investigators who tricked organisations into revealing personal details about customers have been found guilty of breaching the Data Protection Act at Isleworth Crown Court. Five other men from their company, ICU Investigations, had previously pleaded guilty. The ICO investigation estimated there were nearly 2,000 separate offences between 1 April 2009 to 12 May 2010. The defendants will be sentenced on 24 January 2014.
The Panopticon blog reports on two important cases in the Upper Tribunal.
The first post is on the case of All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition v IC & Foreign and Commonwealth Office  UKUT 560 (AAC) – which concerns a request for information relating to the participation of the UK in the practice of extraordinary rendition. The appeal was dismissed but two grounds remain outstanding, pending the judgment of the Supreme Court in Kennedy v Charity Commission (see here).
The second post concerns the case of Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust v Information Commissioner  UKUT 0551, the first consideration by the Upper Tribunal of a monetary penalty notice under section 55A of the DPA. The appeal against the penality of £90,000 was dismissed.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There was a Statement in Open Court in the case of Jordan v Northern & Shell plc. OK! magazine agreed to pay the claimant damages over a “character assassination” of him in a magazine article about Simon Cowell. There were reports of the statement in the Guardian and the Press Gazette.
There was also a statement in open court in the case of Ryanair v Independent Digital News and Media. The case concerned an article reporting pilot claims that the airline’s fuel policy may have put passengers at risk. There were reports of this statement in the Guardian, the Press Gazette and the Irish Examiner.
Journalism and regulation
There were two adjudications by the Press Complaints Commission this week, Sir Christopher Geidt v Guardian (breach of clause 1) and Rebecca Louise Elder v Midhurst and Petworth Observer (breaches of clauses 1 and 6). The Press Gazette has a report on the Guardian adjudication.
There were 9 resolved PCC complaints under Clause 1 as follows: A woman v Daily Mail, Dee Vyas v The Sun, Dee Vyas v Daily Mail, Mr Lee Woodward v The Sun, Mr Sean McGrath v The News (Portsmouth), Mr Sean McGrath v Guernsey Press & Star, Mr Sean McGrath v Daily Mail, Mr Sean McGrath v London 24, Amy D’Warte v Hastings & St Leonards Observer along with one resolved complaint under clauses 3 and 5, Mr Shaun McInerney v Daily Mail, one under clauses 1, 3 and 5, Mr Zahid Darr v The Sun and one under clauses 1 and 12, Mr David Johnson v The Sun.
In the Courts
On 19 November 2013, Tugendhat J gave judgment in the case of Mireskandari v Centaur Media PLC (heard 12 November 2013)( EWHC 3551 (QB)). Summary judgment was granted to the defendant and the claim was dismissed.
On 20 November 2013 judgment was reserved in the case of The King Fahad Academy v Express Newspapers.
25 November 2013, 6 pm: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Lecture “‘Seen to be Done? Transparency and Opacity in Courts: Developments and Issues’ – James Michael“
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
On 13 November 2013, Mildren AJ gave judgment in the defamation case of Kunoth-Monks v Healy & Anor  NTSC 74. Defences of justification, qualified privilege and honest comment were rejected and the judge awarded damages of Aus$125,000.
In the case of Wilson v. Williams, 2013 BCCA 471 the Court of Appeal of British Columbia dismissed an appeal from a finding of liability in a defamation action on the basis that certain defamatory statements were not published on an occasion of qualified privilege.
In the case of McDonald v. Koe et al., 2013 NWTSC 81 the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories awarded general damages of Can$100,000 on a default judgment in a defamation action. In addition, an award of special damages in the sum of Can $61,843.86 was made.
A defamation action claiming Can$6 million was brought last week by Cal Wenzel against the mayor of Calgary. The Calgary Herald has an interesting article about the defamation actions brought against politicians in the past.
The Court blog has a post on “Rob Ford’s Trial by Media and the innocents caught in the Undertow”.
President Goodluck Jonathan is threatening a libel action over a online report that he took ill after a birthday party organised for him in London.
The Government has warned media outlets that publishing photographs of President Zuma’s house could lead to prosecutions. Ministers have invoked the 1980 National Key Points Act, which prohibits publicity for “installations of strategic importance.” Roy Greenslade notes the protest of South African editors against this use of security laws.
Research and Resources
- “Test for Data Protection Rights Effectiveness: Charting the Future of the ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Under European Law” 19 Colum. J. Eur. L. F. 1 (2012) [pdf]
- Stuart Benzi and Timother Killen, “Contractual remedies for damage to reputation in sport sponsorship”, Law in Sport Website
Next week in the courts
On 26 November 2013 there is an application in the case of Small v Turner.
On 27 November 2013 the Court Martial Appeal Court will hear the appeals in the case of R v Marines A to E. The media are appealing against rulings refusing them access to video footage and photographs and the defendants are appealing against an order discharging a previous anonymity order.
On 28 and 29 November 2013 there will be an application in the case of Vaughan v London Borough of Lewisham.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
AVB v TDD 1 November 2013, (Bean J).
Otuo v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1 November 2013 (HHJ Moloney QC)
Mitchell MP v News Group, 7 November 2013 (Master of the Rolls, Richards and Elias LJJ).
The King Fahad Academy v Express Newspapers. 20 November 2013 (Tugendhat J).