The defence case in the phone hacking trial begins at the Old Bailey on Wednesday 19 February 2014 with the case of Rebekah Brooks. This will be week 14 of the trial. We had a post about this yesterday. The defence case is expected to last until May 2014.
It was also reported this week that former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan was questioned in December 2013 by the police under caution as part of Operation Golding, the inquiry into phone hacking at the Mirror newspapers.
There have been a number of stories about the Andrew Mitchell libel case against the Sun this week. The Times claimed [£] that evidence from a retired police officer backed the Sun’s version of events (there is also a report in the Press Gazette). However, as Dan Hodges pointed out in the Daily Telegraph, in fact nothing had changed as the “new evidence” appears inconsistent with the facts. Nick Cohen had a piece about in the story in the Spectator entitled “Why are Rupert Murdoch’s men damning Andrew Mitchell?”
Meanwhile, the civil liberties campaigning group, Liberty, has intervened in the debate. It has announced that it will seek to intervene in the libel claim launched by the police officer, Toby Rowland, against Mr Mitchell on the basis that it is “constitutionally dangerous” for police officers to be able to instigate libel proceedings against individuals.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of any statements in open court this week.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
This week, the PCC published two tables of statistics – following pressure from the House of Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee. The first table [pdf] shows recorded breaches of the Code for complaints concluded between 2011 and 2013. It shows the most breaches recorded against the Daily Mail (47), with the Sun a distant second on 19. The second table [pdf] shows all recorded resolved complaints over the same period. Once again, the Daily Mail is top (339) and the Sun second (128), with only the Daily Telegraph of the other papers making it into double figures (109).
The Press Gazette had a story about these statistics entitled “Mail tops official PCC league of shame – but title says just 0.01 per cent of stories breached Editors’ Code”. There is also a discussion on the Greenslade blog which also reports Hacked Off’s response to the Mail.
There was one PCC adjudication this week. This was only the second of 2014 and it was a direct consequence of the first. This was against Sunday World and upheld a complaint under Clause 3. However, the Sunday World failed to publish the adjudication in full and, instead, published it in edited form and without agreeing prominence. The PCC has now ruled that there has been another breach of the code and requires the new adjudication to be published in full.
There were 9 published resolved complaints – 4 concerning the Daily Mail and 1 each concerning the Spectator, the Sunday Telegraph, the Sun, the Scottish Sun and the Daily Record.
In the Courts
The case of Nouchin v Telegraph Media Group Ltd and Associated Newspapers Ltd settled on 10 February 2014 and no trial took place. The hearing was to be an assessment of damages. The Daily Telegraph apologised to Mr Nouchin on 6 January 2014 and the Daily Mail on 14 February 2014. The negotiated settlement appears to have included corrections, apology, a contribution to costs but no damages. [Update]
The case of Tse v Fung has also settled.
On 12 February 2014, Tugendhat J handed down judgment in the case of Mattioli v XY ( EWHC 269 (QB)) – recording a permanent undertaking given by the defendant after an interim injunction had been granted on 6 February 2014.
On 7 February 2014, permission to appeal was granted in the case of Flood v Times Newspapers.
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: email@example.com.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Australia: It has been reported that the Western Australian state Treasurer, Troy Buswell, has settled his defamation claim against him former lover, former Greens MP, Adele Charles
Canada: The Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal to the anti-salmon farming activist Don Staniford who was found liable to pay defamation damages of Can$75,000 to Mainstream Canada (see Mainstream Canada v. Staniford, 2013 BCCA 341).
India: Congress MP, Avtar Singh Bhadana, has filed a defamation case in the Delhi High Court accusing Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of tarnishing his reputation by branding him as corrupt. The defendant had described the plaintiff as one of the “most corrupt persons of India”.
Lithuania: The OSCE has welcomed proposed amendments to the Criminal Code which could decriminalise most defamation offences.
Trinidad. The leader of the opposition, Dr Keith Rowley, has been awarded nearly Trin$5 million defamation damages against former independent senator Michael Annisette who had accused him of corruption.
Research and Resources
- The Defamation Act: It’s not all change … but it’s now in force at last [pdf], Charles Russell
- Social Media and the Law: A handbook for UK companies [pdf], Linklaters
- Tort Law Defences: A Defence of Conventionalism (2014) 77 Modern Law Review (2014), Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2014/07, Eric Descheemaeker , SSRN
- Complementing the Surveillance Law Principles of the ECtHR with its Environmental Law Principles: An Integrated Technology Approach to a Human Rights Framework for Surveillance Utrecht Law Review, Vol. 10, No. 1, p. 55-75, 2014, Antonella Galetta and Paul De Hert. SSRN
Next week in the courts
On 18 February 2014 there will be an application in the case of Davis v Ames.
On 19 February 2014 there will be an application in the case of White and Callaghan v Express Newspapers.
On 21 February 2014 there will be an application in the case of Gerrard v Blyth.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
Makudi v Triesman, 28 November 2013 (Laws, Tomlinson and Rafferty LJJ).
A v British Broadcasting Corporation, 22 and 23 January 2014 (Supreme Court)
Ontulmus v Collett 5 and 6 February 2014 (Tugendhat J)
NAB v Serco, 7 February 2014 (Bean J)