The Phone Hacking Trial has completed its twenty seventh week of hearings. On Tuesday 27 May (Day 109), the Court heard a closing speech by David Spens QC on behalf of Clive Goodman (later described by Andy Coulson’s counsel as a “second prosecution speech”).
On Wednesday 28 May and Thursday 29 May, the Court heard a closing speech by Timothy Langdale QC on behalf of Andy Coulson. On Friday 30 May it was the turn of Jonathan Caplan QC on behalf of Stuart Kuttner. At 1.30pm on Monday 2 June there will be a closing speech by Trevor Burke QC on behalf of Cheryl Carter.
The Board of IPSO was announced, the 12 person body includes former Sun ombudsman Bill Newman and ex-Times editor Charles Wilson. At the same time, the launch of IPSO was again, put back, this time from June to September. There was a report in the Press Gazette. Hacked Off responded by suggesting that the Board were powerless to change the rules and procedures designed to help the big newspaper groups.
The Press Gazette reports that One Direction’s lawyers have threatened legal action against Mail Online after it published what they said was a “stolen” video appearing to show two of the bandmates smoking drugs.
The first edition of Friday’s Daily Star reported on a further “scandal” involving the band – an X-rate sex picture on the internet. However, as the Media Blog noted, by the second edition, the story had become one concerning the “Fury at Faked Sex Pic”
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court last week.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
The newspaper industry is, as we are often told, in decline and not making money. A happy exception to this trend is the Telegraph Media Group which last year increased its operating profit to £61.2 million. In contrast the Times and the Sunday Times reported operating losses of £5.9 million for the year to March 2013 and Guardian News and Media made a loss of £30.9 million over the same period.
As already mentioned, the PCC has been given a reprieve until at least September. It continues to operate – although it is not entirely clear whether Lord Hunt remains in charge. The new IPSO Board (of what is the same company) appears not to have been formally appointed.
On 30 May 2014 it handed down an adjudication in the case of Jim Moher v Brent & Kilburn Times, upholding complaints under clauses 1, 2 and 4 after one of the newspaper’s journalists wrote on Facebook that they intended to make the complainant’s life “a misery”. There was a report about the adjudication in the Press Gazette.
The PCC also published 19 resolved complaints, 5 against the Daily Mail, 3 against the Daily Telegraph , 2 against the Mail on Sunday, 2 against the Hull Daily Mail and the rest against a variety of newspaper.
Meanwhile, the Press Gazette noted that the UK media had declined to publish a revealing photograph of the Duchess of Cambridge which had appeared in the in the German tabloid, Bild. The Sun claimed to have turned down the photographs out of respect. The Media Blog has a piece about the saga under the headline “Typical Germans“.
In the Courts
Last week was the legal vacation and there were no media law hearings in the courts of England and Wales.
19 June 2014, “Press Gazette, Defamation 2014″, Leicester Square, London
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
On 27 May 2014, in the case of Hardie v The Herald and Weekly Times  VSC 232 Dixon J dismissed an application by the defendant for a ruling that the words complained of were not capable of bearing the plaintiff’s imputations. These included the allegation the plaintiff was a brothel madam.
The National Council of Muslims is proceeding with a lawsuit against Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his chief spokesman for a comment it says linked the organization to a terrorist group. There was a report on CBC and in the Toronto Star among many others.
It is reported that Justin Trudeau has filed his statement of defence in a Can$1.5 million libel claim by would-be Liberal candidate Christine Innes.
A criminal defamation claim by a senior police officer, Hemant Nimbalkar, has been dismissed by the Bangalore High Court. The claim was brought over a media briefing about corruption charges about Nimbalkar, then the Superintendent of Police at Belgaum. He was later given a clean bill of health by investigators.
The Irish Independent reports on a claim by Environment Minister Phil Hogan against TV3 for defamation arising out of comments made by the broadcaster Vincent Browne who is said to have described him as a “bigoted racist” in a broadcast on 20 May 2013. Mr Hogan was granted permission to amend his Statement of Claim.
The Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, has filed a defamation claim against a blogger, Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, who accused him of misusing public funds. Mr Lee had previously rejected an apology and an offer of $5,000 compensation, saying that the apology was “not and never meant to be genuine”. This is said to be the first case brought against a blogger in Singapore. Mr Ngerng has launched a fund raising appeal for his defence on his blog.
The trial date has been set for a defamation claim brought by the Royal Thai Navy against two Phuket journalists using criminal defamation laws and the Computer Crimes Act. The defence is being support by the London based MLDI.
Research and Resources
- Terrorist Speech and the Future of Free Expression, Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 27, pp. 233-341, 2005, Laura Donohue, SSRN.
- When Retweets Attack: Are Twitter Users Liable for Republishing the Defamatory Tweets of Others?, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly (2012), Daxton “Chip” Stewart, Texas Christian University – Bob Schieffer College of Communication, SSRN.
- The Constitutional Protection of Information in a Digital Age Suffolk University Law Review, Vol. 47, p. 267, 2014, Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 14-14, Gerard J. Clark, Suffolk University Law School, SSRN.
- Obscurity and Privacy Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Technology (Joseph Pitt & Ashley Shew, eds., 2014 Forthcoming), Evan Selinger and Woodrow Hartzog, Rochester Institute of Technology – Department of Philosophy and Samford University – Cumberland School of Law, SSRN.
Next week in the courts
The new legal term begins on Tuesday 3 June 2014. We will have a preview of the cases due to heard this term later in the week.
On 4 June 2014 there will be an application in MXA v London Borough of Harrow.
There are currently no reserved judgements outstanding in media law cases.