This was Week 5 of the phone hacking trial of Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and six others at the Old Bailey. On Monday, the Court heard a tape of conversation between Clive Goodman and Andrew Coulson. It later heard evidence from Eimear Cook about a conversation she had with Rebekah Brooks.
On Tuesday there was evidence about another conversation with Mrs Brooks, this time with a friend of the Prime Minister at Chequers. On Wednesday the Court heard evidence relating to the case against Stuart Kuttner and evidence of deletion of emails. On Thursday the Court saw a number of Glenn Mulcaire’s whiteboards and was given a guide as to “how to hack phones”. The trial will not resume until Wednesday 4 December 2013.
Full details of the hearing each day can be found at these links from the #pressreform blog Phone-hacking Trial – Day 20, Phone-hacking Trial – Day 21, Phone-hacking Trial – Day 22 and Phone-hacking Trial – Day 23.
On 27 November 2013 Operation Elveden officers arrested a 28 year old Merseyside health care worker on suspicion of making inappropriate payments to public officials. He is the 80th person to be arrested as part of this operation. There is a report of the arrest in the Press Gazette.
The decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Mitchell v News Group (commented on by David Hart QC on Saturday) has been widely reported. The effect of the decision is that, if he is successful in his legal claim against The Sun, Mr Mitchell will not recover his costs. However, as Mr Mitchell’s lawyers are acting under Conditional Fee Agreements he will not be out of pocket. There were reports in the Press Gazette, the Guardian and the BBC.
In Northern Ireland, assembly member Mike Nesbitt, has a private member’s bill to bring defamation law in the province into line with the English law, as reformed by the Defamation Act 2013. The Belfast Telegraph reports that the bill has, however, been delayed by a reference to the Law Commission. In a piece in the same newspaper, Tony Jaffa takes a positive view of the reference, suggesting that it demonstrates that reform might be possible and sooner that we think.
Lesley Cowley, the CEO of UK registry Nominet has withdrawn a defamation complaint against blogger Graham Wingate over remarks made by him on his Avoid.co.uk blog. Ms Cowley has agreed to pay Mr Wingate’s costs.
Statements in Open Court
We are not aware of any statements in open court this past week.
Journalism and regulation
Broadcaster Robert Peston gave the annual James Cameron Memorial Lecture at City University. The full text is here. In the lecture he complained about a 2008 story which had mentioned his late wife’s cancer. The Daily Mail published an apology although, as Roy Greenslade points out with a “sting in the tail” – describing Peston as a prominent support ot “Common Purpose”.
There were three adjudications by the Press Complaints Commission this week all in claims brought by Mike Jempson under clause 1 – in relation to the Daily Mail, the Drum and the Sunday Telegraph. We had a post by Mr Jempson about these decisions.
In the Courts
On 26 November 2013 there was an application in the case of Small v Turner. In an ex tempore judgment, Bean J granted an injunction to enforce the terms of a Tomlin order which had been agreed to settle a libel action.
On 27 November 2013, Dingemans J heard an application for permission to appeal in the case of Rufus v Elliott. Permission was refused.
On the same day in the case of Attorney-General v Baines the Divisional Court (Lord Chief Justice and Tugendhat J) dealt with the contempt application against a Twitter user who tweeted a picture which he claimed was of Jon Venables as an adult. Mr Baines admitted contempt and received a 14 month suspended sentence. There were reports of the decision on the BBC website, in the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian.
On 27 November 2013 the Court Martial Appeal Court (Lord Chief Justice, Tugendhat and Holroyde JJ) heard the appeals in the case of R v Marines A to E. There is a report of the hearing in the Press Gazette. Judgment was reserved and is expected this week.
On 28 November 2013, the Court of Appeal heard the appeal in the case of Makudi v Triesman. Judgment was reserved. There is a report of the hearing in the Guardian.
On the same day, in the High Court in Belfast, in the case of Irvine v Sunday World Gillen J ruled that a photograph and caption published by the defendant meant that the plaintiff was taking part in UVF activity and that this was defamatory. The parties then agreed damages of £20,000. There are reports of the decision in the Belfast Telegraph and the Newsletter.
On 28 and 29 November 2013 Sir David Eady heard an application in the case of Vaughan v London Borough of Lewisham. Judgment was reserved.
2 February 2014: Westminster Media Forum “European media policy – preparing for the converged landscape”
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 year or next year? Please let Inforrm know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Canada: The Ontario Superior Court has granted an application by the media to release further documents filed in a drug case connected to Mayor Rob Ford, because of its very significant public interest.
Jersey: Deputies Trevor and Shona Pitman have lost their application for permission to appeal out of time against the dismissal of their libel action over a satirical cartoon in the Jersey Evening Post.
Philippines: The Court of Appeal has acquitted the editor in chief of the Daily Tribune on 38 charges of libel brought by lawyer Arthur Villaraza
Portugal: The libel case brought by the parents of missing Madeleine McCann against Goncalo Amaral has now been listed for hearing on 7 January 2014 .
Next week in the courts
Judgment in the appeals in R v Marines A to E will be handed down on a date to be announced this week.
On 3 and 4 December 2013 there will be a hearing in the case of Flood v Times Newspapers.
On 4 December 2013 there will be a hearing in the case of Fox v Boulter.
On the same day there will be a hearing concerning costs in the case of Kearns v Kemp.
On 5 December 2013, HHJ Moloney QC will continue hearing the application in the case of Bedi v Karim
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).
Makudi v Triesman, 28 November 2013 (Laws, Tomlinson and Rafferty LJJ).
Vaughan v London Borough of Lewisham. 28 and 29 November 2013 (Sir David Eady).