We begin, as usual, with the Phone Hacking Trial which has now completed 18 weeks of hearings. There were four days of evidence from former News of the World Royal Editor, Clive Goodman. He was taken ill on Friday and the Court did not sit. Peter Jukes has his usual summary of the week, linking to his live tweets.
Once again, the admirable and energetic #pressreform blog has full collections of links for: Phone-hacking Trial – Day 70. Phone-hacking Trial – Day 71, Phone-hacking Trial – Day 72, Phone-hacking Trial – Day 73 and Phone-hacking Trial – Day 74.
Roy Greenslade notes that Paul Gascoigne paid damages by the Daily Express and Daily Star after they published video footage on their websites showing him in an allegedly drunk and incoherent state. They also made allegations about his private life and finances. The trial had been planned for July 2014. There was also an item on the case on the 5RB website.
The PCC had a farewell party last week, attended by every previous living chairman and director (except Baroness Buscombe). Roy Greenslade has a post about this: “PCC throws a farewell party as Ipso prepares to take over” in which he points out that the whole PCC secretariat will now work for IPSO. He concludes with an “NB”
“The now-discredited PCC started life in 1991 under the chairmanship of the late Lord (Oliver) McGregor. It succeeded the now-discredited Press Council, founded in 1953. Ipso is yet to be discredited, but Hacked Off has done it best!”
Although IPSO is supposed to begin operation on 1 May 2014 it does not yet appear to have a Chair – and without a Chair it cannot appoint a Board. An article in the Press Gazette suggests that the “Choice of IPSO chair could sway Guardian and Independent decision to join new press regulator.”
Robin Hopkins has a post on the Panopticon blog on “Data protection and compensation: the “irreversible march” towards revolutionary change”.
Following the decision of the Court of Appeal in R (Evans) v Attorney-General (( EWCA Civ 254)(see our post here), the House of Commons Library has produced a “Standard Note” on “FoI and Ministerial vetoes”.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of any statements in open court this week.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
There were no PCC adjudications this week. There were six published resolved complaints this week: three against the Daily Mail (Galloway, Portes and Jones) and one each against the Manx Independent and the Bristol Evening Post.
Roy Greenslade draws attention to an letter to the Daily Mail from Professor David Price concerning a piece in the Ephraim Hardcastle diary (see Academics blast Daily Mail for race and gender ‘insinuation’ in diary item).
In the Courts
On Tuesday 18 March 2014, Tugendhat J handed down judgment in the case of Abbas v Yousuf ( EWHC 662 (QB)). An application for third party disclosure was dismissed.
Judgment was also handed down by Tugendhat J in the case of White v Express Newspapers ( EWHC 657 (QB))
On Wednesday 19 March 2014, Tugendhat J will handed down judgment in the case of Mensah v Darroch ( EWHC 692 (QB)).
On 20 March 2014, Dingemans J handed down judgment in the case of Building Register v Weston ( EWHC 784 (QB)).
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
The Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants to deregulate Australia’s media laws. He wants to roll back cross-media ownership restrictions. There is an interesting piece by Ben Eltham, “Who Benefits from Deregulating the Media?”
Michael Geist has a piece on his blog, “The Web We Want: Could Canada Lead on a Digital Bill of Rights?”
It is reported that, on 17 March 2014 the Quebec Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by three members of Outremont’s Hassidic Jewish community against the dismissal of their libel against Outremont blogger, Pierre Lacerte.
Parliament has amended the Electronic Crimes Act 2013 to withdraw sections 6 (prison sentences for sending offensive material by electronic communication), section 16 (electronic stalking), section 25 (warrantless arrests). This was welcomed by the International Press Institute.
It is reported that the former Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Omar won Ringgitt200,000 (£37,000) in damages on Thursday, in his libel suit against Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party deputy president Mohamad Sabu and secretary general Datuk Mustafa Ali over issuance of identity cards in Sabah. The allegation concerned involvement in the issue of identity cards as part of a conspiracy to let another party win an election in Sabah.
Former Labour Tourism Minister Joe Grima has been ordered to pay €5,000 in libel damages following a complaint by Richard Cachia Caruana, Malta’s former permanent representative to the European Union.
Former Labour Prime Minister Alfred Sant has been ordered to pay €1,000 in libel damages to former Nationalist minister Ninu Zammit. The plaintiff claimed that he was slandered by a speech made by Dr Sant and broadcast on Super One Radio in August 2007 in which Dr Sant claimed that Mr Zammit had received compensation for the expropriation of land.
In a piece in the Belfast Telegraph, Paul Connolly the Readers’ Editor, argues that the Defamation Act is the “key to our freedom of expression”.
Independent Power Tanzania Limited and two other plaintiffs have sued Mwananchi Communications Limited and editors of The Citizen and Mwananchi newspapers. They are seeking damages of US$3bn in respect of loss of business alleged to have been caused by the articles.
A claim for defamation against the Trinidad Guardian by businessman Krishna Lalla was dismissed on 20 March 2014.
Research and Resources
- “Deferential Dialogues between the Court of Justice and Domestic Courts Regarding the Compatibility of the EU Data Retention Directive with (Higher?) National Fundamental Rights Standards“, Ioana Raducu, Universite du Luxembourg, SSRN.
- “Can Charity save the local press”, post on the Media Power and Plurality blog.
- “The Defamation Act: the Art of Missing the Big Picture“, Claire de Than, The Charta.
- “Three Global Challenges to the Media“, Benedetta Brevini, The Charta.
- “Ontario Superior Court Revisits and Broadens Jones v Tsige” Roland Hung and Rachel Ries, snIP/ITS blog.
Next week in the courts
On Monday 24 March 2014 Tugendhat J will hear applications in the linked “Plebgate” cases of Mitchell v News Group and Rowland v Mitchell.
On the same day Dingemans J will hear the privacy trial in the case of Weller v Associated Newspapers. This is listed for 3 to 5 days.
Also on Monday Sir David Eady will hear the adjourned application in the case of A v B.
On Wednesday 26 March 2014, the Supreme Court (Lords Neuberger, Mance, Clarke, Wilson, Sumption, Carnwath and Toulson) will give judgment in the case of Kennedy v Charity Commission.
On the same day the Court of Appeal will hear an application for permission to appeal in the case of Cruddas v Calvert. Nic Cohen has a piece on the Spectator blog criticising the first instance judgment (and suggesting that the judge should have declared his connections to the Conservative Party).
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
A v British Broadcasting Corporation, 22 and 23 January 2014 (Supreme Court)
NAB v Serco, 7 February 2014 (Bean J)
Johnston v League Publications Ltd and others, 28 February 2014 (Sir David Eady)
Small v Turner 28 February 2014 (Sir David Eady).