The Phone Hacking Trial completed its twentieth week with a further four and a half days of evidence. The jury has not, however, resumed hearing the case of Clive Goodman who fell ill in the course of his cross-examination. On Friday they were told that he was still too unwell to continue giving evidence.
On Monday 31 March (Day 80), Charlie Brooks was in the witness box. His evidence concluded on Tuesday and the jury then heard from former News International Head of Security, Mark Hanna (Day 81). He continued giving evidence on Wednesday (Day 82), concluding on Thursday (Day 83). On Friday the Court heard evidence from various other defence witnesses for Mark Hanna (Day 84).
The Chair of the IPSO appointments committee, Sir Hayden Phillips, announced that the organisation would not, after all, commence operation on 1 May but was not going to begin operation until “early June”. The reason was, apparently, the large number of applications received. We had a post about this new delay in the IPSO start date. Steve Hewlett suggested, on the Guardian Media Blog, that if IPSO finds a strong chair and a method of independent auditing the Guardian, the FT and the Independent could sign up.
There was a remarkable story about the Metropolitan Police serving a harassment notice on a journalist investigating a convicted fraudster. This was universally condemned: the Press Gazette reported that WAN, Liberty and Hacked Off join condemnation of Met harassment warning for reporter
The Mail reports that businessman Ronald Stocker is suing his ex-wife Nicola Stocker over attacks on Facebook which are said to have “cost him his new lover”.
The Hawktalk blog has a post concerning the use of DNA as a biometric identifier, entitled “Is the use of DNA analysers on log-on in breach of the data protection law?”
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of any statements in open court this week.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
There was one PCC adjudication this week – in the case of PCC v Scottish Sun. This concerned a payment made by the Scottish Sun to a witness in a murder trial. The investigation was launched of the PCC’s own volition. It found that there was no breach of clause 15 of the Code (witness payments in criminal trials) because the payment was made after the conclusion of the trial. There was a piece in the Press Gazette about the adjudication. There were two published resolved complaints: Portes v Daily Telegraph (Clause 1) and Reverend Janet Henderson v Wales Online (Clauses 1, 2 and 12).
Roy Greenslade discusses last Sunday’s tabloid news stories about Conservative MP Mark Menzies and a “Brazilian male escort”. It was, he commented “quite like old times on the newsstands”. He continued:
“You might have thought it inappropriate nowadays to expose people for their (alleged) gay relationships. You might have also thought it inappropriate to accept the word of someone who has sought payment for that (alleged) relationship. Doesn’t the term “rent boy” seem oddly archaic in 2014?
In the Courts
The privacy trial in the case of AVB v TDD began on 2 April 2014 before Tugendhat J and is part heard. It will continue on Monday 7 April.
On the same day there was an assessment of damages in the case of Allan v Barnetson and an application in the case of Meadows v Lambert.
On 4 April 2014, Christopher Clarke LJ refused permission to appeal at an oral hearing in the case of Tamiz v Guardian Newspapers.
On the same day the twice adjourned application in the case of NAB v Serco was heard before Bean J. Judgment was reserved,
23-24 April 2014 “1984: Freedom and Censorship in the Media – Where Are We Now?“, University of Sunderland, London Campus, Canary Wharf.
2 May 2014,“Media Power and Plurality Conference,“, City University, London
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
In the case of Mather v Smith (No 1) QCA 65 (4 April 2014) the Queensland Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal against verdict for A$85,000 defamation damages arising out of comments made in a radio interview.
In Visscher v Maritime Union of Australia (No 6)  NSWSC 350 the master of a ship was awarded A$90,000 for two news articles that suggested he was incompetent and put his crew and the ship in danger. The defences of truth, contextual truth, qualified privilege and honest opinion were all unsuccessful.
A court has dismissed a libel claim brought against former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia on charges of “distorting history” by claiming that her late husband Ziaur Rahman was the country’s first president.
The Prime Minister of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, has filed a libel notice against the leader of the Opposition, Tim Hudak. The claim concerns accusations that she was involved in a plan to wipe computer hard drives in the Prime Minister’s office to hide documents relating to a plan to cancel two gas plants. There are reports on CBC News, and in the Ottawa Citizen and the Globe and Mail.
The Supreme Court has heard the appeal in the case of Leech v Independent Newspapers against an award of €1.87 million libel damages. There was report of the hearing in the Irish Times. The claim concerned a series of 10 articles in November and December 2004 in the Evening Herald which the plaintiff claimed meant she was having an extra-marital affair with the then Minister for the Environment. She was awarded damages by a High Court jury in 2009. Judgment was reserved.
The Times of Israel reports that a libel trial is due to begin shortly between Israeli/Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, retired museum curator Joe Zias, a Michigan-born anthropologist who spent 25 years working with the Israel Antiquities Authority. Mr Zias accused Mr Jacobovici of planting archaeology,” forgery, and inventing a Holocaust story. The trial will take place before Judge Jacob Sheinman.
The lead of the Opposition, Simon Busuttil, has filed two libel cases against the daily newspaper l-Orizzont for its claims about his asset declarations.
Trinidad and Tobago
The Trinidad Express newspaper has been ordered to pay former University of T&T (UTT) president Ken Julien over TT$500,000 (£47,000) in damages for a series of libelous articles related to his role at the tertiary education institution. The payout, one of the highest ever in a local defamation case, was ordered by High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad
A federal judge has denied a request by ESPN to dismiss a libel suit filed by Laurie Fine, the wife of former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine. The plaintiff accused the sports cable television network of libel and slander in its coverage of child-molesting allegations against her husband.
Research and Resources
- ” How Can Journals Respond to Threats of Libel Litigation“, Nav Persaud, Thom Ringer and Trudo Lemmens, PLoS Med 11(3), SSRN
- “A Corporate Right to Privacy”, Elizabeth Pollman, Minnesota Law Review, Vol 99, No.1, 2014, SSRN
Next week in the courts
On Monday 7 April 2014, there will be a Statement in Open Court in the case of Myers v Royce.
On the same day the privacy trial in AVB v TDD continues before Tugendhat J.
And Dingemans J will hear applications in the case of Uppal v Endemol.
On Tuesday 8 April 2014, there will be an application in the libel and harassment case of Royal Brompton Foundation Trust v Shaikh.
The oral application for permission to appeal in Cruddas v will be heard on 8 April 2014 by a panel including two of Maurice Kay LJ, Patten LJ and Sir Stanley Burnton.
On Wednesday 9 April 2014 there will be an application in the case of O’Neill v Catalyst Housing Ltd.
On Thursday 10 April 2014 there will be an application in the case of Jilani v Saddique.
On Friday 11 April 2014 there will be an application in the case of Contostavlos v Mendahun.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
A v British Broadcasting Corporation, 22 and 23 January 2014 (Supreme Court)
Small v Turner 28 February 2014 (Sir David Eady).
Weller v Associated Newspapers, 24 to 27 March 2014 (Dingemans J).
NAB v Serco 4 April 2014 (Bean J).