Law and Media Round Up – 5 May 2014

5 05 2014

New Round UpSince our last Round Up, the Phone Hacking Trial has completed its twenty third week of evidence, with the ninety ninth day of evidence being completed on Wednesday 30 April 2014.  The remainder of the week was devoted to legal argument.

The former News of the World Editor and Tory spin doctor Andy Coulson spent his 9th and 10th days in the witness box with his cross-examination by Andrew Edis QC concluding after 3 days on Monday 28 April 2014, which was day ninety eight of the hearing.

On Tuesday 29 April 2014, Mr Justice Saunders gave the jury an update on the timetable.  He hold them that the completion of Clive Goodman’s evidence would take a day and a half and then there would be 10 days for speeches and 3 days for his summing up.  This suggests that the jury will be sent out to consider their verdicts in the week commencing 26 May 2014.

The biggest media and legal story of the week was the conviction of publicist, Max Clifford on 8 counts of indecent assault.  He was subsequently sentenced to 8 years in prison.  The judge’s sentencing remarks can be found here [pdf]. The Zelo Street blog had a post about the sentence.

On Tuesday IPSO announced the appointment of soon to retire Court of Appeal judge, Sir Alan Moses, as its new chair.  There were stories about this is in a number of newspapers including: the Daily Mailthe Guardian, the Independent,  The appointment of a judge described as “fiercely independent” and a “maverick” was generally welcomed.  There was a gushing assessment by consistent Leveson opponent Peter Preston in the Observer  – “Ipso is go – and the long Leveson debate is over“.  We had a post setting out the Hacked Off reaction to the appointment.

The International Press Institute (“IPI”) has urged the 14 Caribbean countries which maintain some form of criminal defamation laws to repeal them.  Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said

“These laws instil self-censorship in the media and thereby deprive the public of information on matters of public interest”.

She noted that Jamaica and Grenada had removed the criminal defamation legislation and said.

We are hopeful that Governments in Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and the Dominican Republic will honour public commitments and follow suit,

Data Protection and Freedom of Information

The Panopticon Blog reports that the important data protection case of Steinmetz v Global Witness may be referred to the Information Commissioner under the provisions of section 32 of the DPA.. Global Witness is an NGO which reported on allegations that a particular company, BSG Resources Ltd secured a major mining concession in Guinea through corrupt means. Global Witness is now facing claims under sections 7, 10, 13 and 14 of the DPA.  The background can be found here.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has just issued a Local Government Transparency Code in exercise of his powers under section 2 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 to issue a Code of Recommended Practice as to the publication of information by local authorities about the discharge of their functions and other matters which he considers to be related.  This is noted in a post on the Panopticon blog.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

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

Newspapers, Journalism and regulation

Once, again there were no adjudications by the PCC this week (the last one was on 2 April 2014).  There were 10 published resolved complaints.

In the Courts

The new legal term began on Tuesday 28 April 2014.

On Wednesday 29 April 2014, there was a short trial on meaning in the libel case of Mughal v Telegraph Media Group Ltd  before Tugendhat J.  Judgment was reserved.

On the same day there was a hearing in the case of ReachLocal UK v Bennett before Tugendhat J.

On 29 April 2014, Lord Justice Maurice Kay heard 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.  He gave judgment on 1 May 2014 dismissing the application.  This is the final appeal for PressBoF and the claim is now at an end.  We had a post about this decision.

On 1 and 2 May 2014 Mann J heard applications by News Group in the cases of Hannon v NGN and Dufour v NGN to strike out the claims as an abuse of the process.  Judgment was reserved.

On 1 May 2014 Tugendhat J gave judgment on meaning in the case of  Contostavlos v News Group Newspapers ([2014] EWHC 1339 (QB)).  It was held that a Sun story alleging an affair between singer Tulisa Contostavlos and footballer Danny Simpson was defamatory of both.  There was a news report of the judgment in the Press Gazette.

Also on 1 May 2014 the Court of Appeal will heard the appeal in the case of Thompson v James – the issue related to meaning on the counterclaim.  There is a short note about the hearing on the claimant’s blog.   Judgment was reserved.

On the same day Thirlwall J heard an application in the case of Hayden v Hardy.

On 2 May 2014 Sir David Eady heard and an appeal in the case of Fontaine v Groarke.  Judgment was reserved.

Events

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: inforrmeditorial@gmail.com.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Canada

The Globe and Mail reported that they had paid Can$10,000 for photographs showing Toronto mayor (and mayoral candidate) smoking crack cocaine.

Northern Ireland

The Belfast Telegraph reports that a North Belfast community worker, Philip Lamont, has settled his libel action against the Sunday World newspaper.  The case was due to be heard at a three day jury trial in Belfast.

Zimbabwe

A magistrate has dismissed charges of criminal defamation brought against a journalist bytwo police officers. The presiding magistrate noted that even though the state had succeeded in proving that a false statement had been published in The Zimbabwean edition of 3 October 2013, it had not proved that there was intent to harm the complainants.

Next week in the courts

On Wednesday 7 May 2014 there will be an application in the case of Wissa v Associated Newspapers.

On Thursday 8 May 2014, the Supreme Court will give judgment in the case of A v British Broadcasting Corporation, heard on 22 and 23 January 2014.

On the same day there will be a statement in open court in the case of Russell Brand v News Group Newspapers. 

In addition, on 8 May 2014 the Court of Appeal will hear an oral application for permission to appeal in the case of Rufus v Elliott.  Permission was refused on the papers by Sir Stephen Sedley on 20 January 2014.

Judgments

The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:

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

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

Fontaine v Groarke, 2 May 2014 (Sir David Eady).

 


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6 05 2014
Jonathan Rayner

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