Media and Law RoundupSince our last Round Up, the Phone Hacking Trial has completed its twenty first and twenty second weeks, with the ninety sixth day of evidence being completed on Friday 25 April 2014.

Week 22 saw the completion of the defence of Stuart Kuttner and then two days of Andy Coulson.  Week 23 featured three and a half days of evidence from Andy Coulson. The prosecution cross-examination began on Friday 25 April 2014 and will continue next week.

The mainstream media has given little attention to much of the trial.  We have continued our regular posts from Martin Hickman. There are also comprehensive, twice daily, reports from James Doleman at the Old Bailey on The Drum wesbite.  We have continued our regular posts from Martin Hickman.

In addition, there are two indispensable online resources. First there is #pressreform blog – which has comprehensive daily posts, with live tweets and links to all the online material.  Second, there is Peter Jukes – who has been Live Tweeting the trial since the beginning: his up to date “Full Trial Summary” can be found here.

Meanwhile, the police announced that former Sun South West England reporter John Coles would not face charges after spending 19 months on police bail, having been Operation Elveden arrest number 49.  There are 14 Sun journalists who have been charged with criminal offences and who are due to face trial later this year.

It was reported that Russell Brand has won libel damages from the Sun on Sunday and pledged to donate them to the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.  The claim arose out of what purported to be a “kiss and tell” “Russell cheated on his Jemima with me” published in the Sun on Sunday across pages 1, 4 and 5 on 17 November 2013.

The Financial Times has decided not to join the IPSO – the revamped PCC – but has, instead, decided to regulate itself.  Roy Greenslade had a blog post about this.

The membership of the Regulatory Funding Company (RFC) – the PressBof Mark II for the IPSO – was announced.  We had a post about this body by Brian Cathcart.  Roy Greenslade drew attention to the fact that a Northern and Shell director was on the board of the RFC – apparently marking an end to the Express newspapers boycott of self-regulation.

The Scottish Newspaper Society held a conference in Glasgow. The First Minister, Alex Salmond, reaffirmed the commitment of the Scottish Government to press regulation. Lord Black gave a speech making the remarkable suggestion that the Royal Charter (an instrument which the press itself wishes to use, see Next Week in the Courts) was a “menace” and an “unacceptable infringement of press freedom”.

Data Protection

There is a post on the Datonomy blog entitled “When should you alert customers to data breaches? Important new EU guidance on breach reporting – and prevention”.

The Privacy and Information Law Blog has a post by Phil Lee entitled “Anonymisation is great, but don’t undervalue pseudonymisation”

The ICO notes that Barry Spencer, who ran a company that tricked organisations into revealing personal details about customers has today been ordered to pay a total of £20,000 in fines and prosecution costs, as well as a confiscation order of over £69,000 at a hearing at Isleworth Crown Court.

On April 16, 2014, the Article 29 Working Party sent a letter to Lilian Mitrou, Chair of the Working Group on Information Exchange and Data Protection of the Council of the European Union, to support a compromise position on the one-stop-shop mechanism within the proposed EU General Data Protection Regulation .  There is a post about this on the Privacy and Information Security Law Blog.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

There have been no statements in open court since the last Round Up.

Newspapers, Journalism and regulation

There were no PCC adjudications over the past fortnight. There were 14 published resolved complaints, all dated 25 April 2014 – five involving the Daily Mail.

Roy Greenslade has a post entitled “The Sun apologises to Louis Walsh, on page 2, for a page 1 ‘fix’ story”  He concludes “The Sun feels the wording and placement of the apology was adequate.  Do you?”.

In the Courts

In accordance with the usual turn of events, a number of reserved judgments were given in the last few days of last term.

The most high profile was the judgment of Dingemans J in Weller v Associated Newspapers ([2014] EWHC 1163 (QB)).  We had a news story about this and posts from Louise Turner and Alexia Bedat.

On 15 April 2014, Tugendhat J granted the writer J K Rowling permission to have a statement in open court read following the acceptance of an offer of amends (Murray v Associated Newspapers [2014] EWHC 1170 (QB))

On 16 April 2014 Bean J gave judgment in the case of Meadows Care v Lambert ([2014] EWHC 1226 (QB)), dismissing slander claims by two children’s care home providers against the leader of Rochdale Council.  There was a news report about this decision on the Guardian Northerner Blog.

On the same day Bean J gave judgment in the case of NAB v Serco ([2014]  EWHC 1225 (QB)) permitting the Guardian access to a report into allegations of sexual abuse.  We had a post about this judgment.

The Court of Appeal gave the Sunday Times permission to appeal in the case of Cruddas v Calvert ([2014] EWCA Civ 476).


2 May 2014,“Media Power and Plurality Conference,“, City University, London

20 May 2014, “Inhuman Rights: is the Sun right on the Human Rights Act?”, Helena Kennedy QC, Kings College 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:

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


The Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, has commenced libel proceedings against opposition leader, Tim Hudak. It is reported that his lawyers have served notice that he will be “vigorously defending the claim”.  A number of commentators have suggested that the claim is politically and legally risky.

Meanwhile Christine Innes, who was barred from standing as a Liberal Party candidate has brought slander proceedings against the Ontario campaign co-chairs Justin Trudeau and David MacNaughton alleging that falsely claimed they she’d been blocked because of bullying and intimidation tactics used by her campaign.

The Law of Privacy in Canada Blog notes that “anti-spam” legislation is finally coming in Canada.

New Zealand

In the case of Karam v Parker [2014] NZHC 737 a former All Black was awarded damages of NZ$535,000 against two men who launched an “all out assault” on his reputation.  This was the fourth highest award of libel damages ever made in New Zealand.  This a report of the judgment in the New Zealand Herald.

Research and Resources

·         Liability of Internet Host Providers in Defamation Actions: From Gatekeepers to Identifiers, Anne S Y Cheung, SSRN

·         Internet Defamation: A Canadian Perspective, The Ontario-New York Legal Summit, Antonin I Pribetic, SSRN

·         A Prolegomenon to Any Future Restatement of Privacy, Ronald J Krotoszynski Jr, Brooklyn Law Review, Vol. 79, No. 2, 2014, SSRN

·         From Privacy to Publicity: the Tort of Appropriation in the Age of Mass Consumption, Buffalo Law Review, Vol 61 (2013), Samantha Barbas, SSRN

Next week in the courts

The new legal term begin on Tuesday 28 April 2014.

On Wednesday 29 April 2014, there will be a trial on meaning in the libel case of Mughal v Telegraph Media Group Ltd.  This is the only libel trial listed for the Easter term.

On the same day there will be a return date hearing in the case of ReachLocal UK v Bennett (which was originally heard by Sir David Eady on 28 March 2014).

On 29 or 30 April 2014 there will be a hearing before Mann J in the cases of Hannon v NGN and Dufour v NGN.

On 30 April or 1 May 2014 the Court of Appeal will hear the appeal in the case of Thompson v James.

There will be a hearing this week of the renewed oral application for permission to appeal in the case of R (Press Standards Board of Finance) v Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport.


The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:

A v British Broadcasting Corporation, 22 and 23 January 2014 (Supreme Court)

AVB v TDD, 2-4 and 7 April 2014 (Tugendhat J)

O’Neill v Catalyst Housing Ltd 9 April 2014(Dingemans J)

Contostavlos v News Group Newspapers 11 April 2014 (Tugendhat J)