We begin with a rare Court of Appeal libel judgment and another defeat for the Daily Mail. In Miller v Associated Newspapers ( EWCA Civ 39) the Court dismissed an appeal by the newspaper against a judgment fgiven on 21 December 2012 ( EWHC 3721 (QB)) following a trial between 21 and 25 May 2013.
Sharp J awarded Mr Miller damages of £65,000. The Court agreed with her that the Daily Mail had not established that there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that Mr Miller was a willing beneficiary of improper conduct and cronyism because of his friendship with Sir Ian Blair in respect of the award of a number of Metropolitan Police Service contracts to Mr Miller’s company worth millions of pounds of public money”. There is a 5RB case note on the judgment. There were reports in the Daily Mail and the Press Gazette.
The phone hacking trial continued at the Old Bailey this week, with evidence being heard on Monday 20 January, Tuesday 21 January, Wednesday 22 January, Thursday 23 January and Friday 25 January. It has become a little difficult to keep count of the number of days (because there have been part days and days of legal argument) but we keep to the #pressreform version, Days 41 to 45. We had regular trial reports from Martin Hickman (courtesy of the Hacked Off blog).
The Commissioner for Public Appointments has announced the membership of the Appointments Panel which will appoint the Board of the Recognition Panel under the Royal Charter. Roy Greenslade commented on his blog. The Daily Mail responded with a characteristically inaccurate piece entitled “Press Regulators to be chosen by quangocrats and civil servants” (the appointments panel does not chose press regulators).
It was reported that on Friday 24 January 2014, a Court in Hamburg ordered Google to block access to images of Max Mosley, originally placed on the internet by the News of the World. Google indicated that it intended to appeal the ruling. The publication of the images was held to be unlawful by Mr Justice Eady in 2008 ( EWHC 1777 (QB)) but video footage continues to be accessible via Google searches. In November 2013, Mr Mosley obtained a similar ruling [pdf] from the French Courts.
In California, Courtney Love successfully defended a “Twitter libel” case brought by her former lawyer. The jury determined, by a 9-3 majority, that the plaintiff, Rhonda Holmes did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that the singer knew the statement was false. Reuters reported that the jury deliberated for 4 hours after a two week trial. Ms Holmes had claimed US$8 million compensatory damages.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of any statements in open court this week.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
Roy Greenslade has blogged about a report that the future of the DA-Notice (“Defence Advisory”, formerly D-Notice) committee is under threat.
There were no adjudications by the Press Complaints Commission this week. There were six published resolved complaints Wonga v Daily Mirror (Clause 1), A man v Daventry Express (Clause 6), Terry Loscombe v Daily Record (Clause 1). Steven Price v Liverpool Echo (Clauses 3 and 5). Iain McKenzie MP v Daily Record (Clause 1), A woman v Manchester Evening News (clauses 1, 3, 5 and 9)
In the Courts
On 20 January 2014, the Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal on the papers in the case of Rufus v Elliott.
On 22 and 23 January 2014, the Supreme Court (Lady Hale and Lords Wilson, Reed, Hughes and Hodge) will hear the case of Secretary of State for Home Department v A. This is an appeal by the BBC from the decision of the Inner House  CSIH 43. Judgment was reserved.
On 23 January 2014, Tugendhat J heard an application in the case of RBoS Shareholders Action Group Ltd v News Group Newspapers Ltd & anr
2 February 2014: Westminster Media Forum “European media policy – preparing for the converged landscape“.
22 February 2014: “ Oxford Media Convention, IPPR” Said Business School, University of Oxford
24 February 2014: Edgehill University” Law Alumni Networking Event – Media Law Panel: The Defamation Act 2013” 5:45 pm – 8:00 pm in B001
23-24 April 2014, “1984: Freedom and Censorship in the Media – Where Are We Now?“, University of Sunderland, London Campus, Canary Wharf.
24 and 25 May 2014,“Understanding Transition, Austerity, Communication and the Media“, University of Bucharest.
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
Guyana: The High Court has been hearing a libel claim brought by former President Bharrat Jagdeo against Kaieteur News columnist Freddie Kissoon. Mr Jadgeo is claiming that an article by Mr Kissoon insinuated that he exercised ideological racism during his term in office.
Hong Kong: The High Court has ordered Apple Daily and Next Magazine to pay actress Zhang Ziyi HK$396,000 in legal costs after their defences were struck out last November.
Namibia: On 23 January 2014 Acting Judge Collins Parker ordered the owner of the weekly publication Informanté, Trustco Group International, the newspaper’s former editor, Max Hamata, and its former printer to pay Nghimtina N$60 000 as compensation over an article that was published in the 22 to 28 July 2010 edition of Informanté. The article had accused Cabinet member Erkki Nghimtina of having misused his position to get his mother-in-law’s house connected to the rural electricity grid
Trinidad and Tobago: The Libel and Defamation Bill was considered by the House of Representatives. This abolishes the offence of malicious defamatory libel
United States: The National Review and a conservative think tank have failed in their attempt to have a libel claim by climate scientist Michael Mann dismissed. The defendants had accused Mr Mann of fraud and compared him to a notorious child molester. DC Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg rejected the motion, opening the way for a trial.
In New York a judge ruled that a legal secretary who criticized her former law firm in a newspaper article was protected by the fair report privilege, a Manhattan judge has ruled.
Research and Resources
- The Meaning of Freedom of the Press: A Legal and Philosophical Approach, Andras Koltay, Peter Pazmany Catholic University; Hungarian Academy of Sciences, SSRN
- Reputational Injury Without a Reputational Attack: Addressing Negligence Claims for Pure Reputational Harm Bryson, Kern, Fordham Law Review, Forthcoming, SSRN
- ‘Unringing’ the Bell that Has Sounded so Loudly: Maintaining Anonymity When Suing for Defamation and Breach of Privacy in the Internet Realm Eva Nagle NUI Maynooth, SSRN
- In the Shadow of the Big Media: Freedom of Expression, Participation and the Production of Knowledge Online , Public Law Forthcoming, Jacob H. Rowbottom, University of Oxford – Faculty of Law, SSRN
Next week in the courts
The libel courts continue to be quiet. We are only aware of one hearing this week. This on 30 January 2014 and is a one day assessment of damages in the case of Horne v Dempster.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
AVB v TDD 1 November 2013, (Bean J).
Makudi v Triesman, 28 November 2013 (Laws, Tomlinson and Rafferty LJJ).
Mount v Hodder & Staughton Limited, 16 January 2014 (Tugendhat J)
RBoS Shareholders Action Group Ltd v News Group Newspapers Ltd & anr, 23 January 2014 (Tugendhat J)