The Phone Hacking Trial has completed its twenty fourth week. There was a half day hearing on 6 May 2014 (Day 100). Some character evidence in relation to Andy Coulson was read to the jury and Mr Justice Saunders then gave the jury some legal directions. These are helpfully summarised by Peter Jukes on his blog.
The next two days were taken up by the closing speech of prosecuting Counsel Andrew Edis QC. We had reports of this speech from Martin Hickman. On Friday 9 May 2014, the Court heard legal argument. Mr Edis has three more hours of his closing speech to go, beginning again at 11.30am on Monday 12 May 2014.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There was a statement in open court in the case of Russell Brand v NGN. This can be found here [pdf]. The Press Gazette reported this under the headline “The Sun apologises to Russell Brand for ‘totally untrue’ front page claim he cheated on girlfriend Jemima Khan“.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
In what appears to be its last month of operation, the PCC has produced two adjudications:
- S & R Motors v Swindon Advertiserconcerned a complaint over a headline “Trading Standards investigate garage”, which the paper accepted was inaccurate (it said it was written at a “remote subbing hub”). Although this is recorded on the PCC website as “no decision”, the PCC indicated that there was a breach of clause 1 due to the delay in correction and also a breach in failing to co-operate swiftly with the PCC. There was a story about this adjudication in the Press Gazette.
- Michael Varey v People: The complaint was of harassment by a photographer commissioned via an agency. The newspaper accepted the complainant’s account of the incident outside his house but said it was not responsible for the actions of the photographer and the threshold of harassment had not been crossed. The PCC held that continued filming after a request to leave was a clear breach of clause 4. However, it rejected a complaint under clause 3 on the basis that surveillance from a public road did not amount to a failure to respect the complainant’s private life. This adjudication was also covered in the Press Gazette and also by Roy Greenslade.
There were also eight resolved complaints – including 6 by Dr Kate Stone who complained that newspapers had mentioned her transgender status when reporting the fact that she had been attacked and seriously injured by a charging stag. There is a report of these resolutions in the Press Gazette.
The Daily Mail has printed an apology to the author JK Rowling in which it states that it has paid her substantial damages over an article that claimed she had told a misleading “sob story.” There is an item about this on the Greenslade blog and in the Press Gazette.
The press coverage of the new police investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has led to complaints by her parents and Roy Greenslade raises the question “Is it time for the press regulator to step in?”
In the Courts
On Wednesday 7 May 2014, Tugendhat J gave judgment in the case of Mughal v Telegraph Media Group ( EWHC 1371 (QB)). He found that the words complained of did not bear any meaning defamatory of the claimant. There was a report about this decision in the Press Gazette.
On the same day Tugendhat J heard an application in the case of Wissa v Associated Newspapers. Judgment was reserved. (Update)
On Thursday 8 May 2014, the Supreme Court gave judgment in the case of A v British Broadcasting Corporation, heard on 22 and 23 January 2014. The appeal by the BBC against the decision anonymising the applicant was dismissed. There was a report in the Press Gazette.
On the same day there were three hearings in the High Court and one in the Court of Appeal. (Update)
The Court of Appeal heard an oral application for permission to appeal in the case of Rufus v Elliott. Rafferty LJ granted the defendant permission to appeal.
Sir David Eady heard an application in Cartus v Siddell. Judgment was reserved.
Sir David Eady also heard an application in the case of Allan v Barnetson and gave an ex tempore judgment.
Tugendhat J heard an application in the case of SPA v TAS. Judgment was reserved.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak and Tory MPP Lisa MacLeod have filed a statement of defence filed in response to the libel claim brought by Ontario Premier Wynne. They deny that the words used were defamatory and, alternatively, that they
“are fair comment, were made in good faith and without malice, about matters of public interest, namely that an issue arose regarding whether electronic documents and/or correspondence relating to the cancellation of the Mississauga Gas Plant or the Oakville Gas Plant by the Liberal Government were destroyed while the plaintiff was the Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, the Premier-Designate of Ontario or the Premier of Ontario.”
There is a report about the Defence in the Ottawa Citizen.
The Times of Malta reports that Labour MP Silvio Schembri and his wife Deandra filed a libel suit against the Nationalist Party and its media claiming that a number of reports were malicious and libellous.
It has been reported that the Abuja High Court ordered former President Olusegun Obasanjo to file a statement of defence in a libel suit brought against him by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Buruji Kashamu.
The Regional Trial Court in Rizal province has dismissed a libel case filed against controversial evangelist Eliserio “Bro. Eli” Soriano in 2001. Judge Josephine Zarate Fernandez said the complainants, headed by Bernardo Santiago, failed to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that there was malice in the statements purportedly uttered by Soriano in his televised broadcast on Sept. 7, 2001
Research and Resources
- ‘Dangerous Expressions: The ECHR, Violence and Free Speech’, Antoine Buyse, International and Comparative Law Quarterly (vol. 63, April 2014, pp. 491-503. There is a post about this article on the author’s ECHR blog.
- “Sedition, e-libel become the new Pacific media front line”, David Robie, The Daily Blog.
- “Truth and Truthfulness in the Law of Defamation“, Eric Descheemaeker, Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2014/26
Next week in the courts
On 12 May 2014, Tugendhat J will give judgment in the case of AVB v TDD (heard 2-4 and 7 April 2014).
On 13 May 2014, there will be an application in the case of GG v WY.
On 14 May 2014, judgment will be handed down by the Court of Appeal in the case of Thompson v James.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings remain outstanding:
O’Neill v Catalyst Housing Ltd 9 April 2014 (Dingemans J)
Fontaine v Groarke, 2 May 2014 (Sir David Eady).
Wissa v Associated Newspapers, 7 May 2014 (Tugendhat J).
Cartus Corporation v Siddell, 8 May 2014 (Sir David Eady)
SPA v TAS, 8 May 2014 (Tugendhat J).