The Phone Hacking Trial has completed its twenty eighth week of hearings and the end is now in sight. On Monday 2 June (Day 113), Trevor Burke QC for Cheryl Carter began his closing speech. On Tuesday 3 June (Day 114), it was the turn of Neil Saunders for Charlie Brooks and finally William Clegg QC for Mark Hanna.
With defence speeches completed, Mr Justice Saunders began his summing up on Wednesday 4 June (Day 115), this continued on Thursday 5 June (Day 116). There was no hearing on Friday 6 June as a result of the illness of a member of the jury.
PC Tim Edwards, who admitted selling stories to newspapers over a period of 3 years, was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to misconduct in a public office. There was a report in the Press Gazette.
Media organisations had launched a challenge to orders made by Mr Justice Nicol on 19 May at the Old Bailey in relation to the trial of two defendants who can only be identified as AB and CD. There were reports in the Press Gazette, the Daily Mail and the Guardian. We had a post about this case by Lawrence McNamara.
The EU Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, has said that that EU officials will examine how Google’s application of the “right to be forgotten” would work in practice before commenting. There is a report on Out-law.com.
Data Protection was discussed at last week’s EU Justice Council. Agreement was reached on two important aspects of data protection reform:
- on the rules that govern data transfers to third countries (the so-called “Chapter V” of the Regulation). The Regulation sets out three avenues which can be used to make legal data transfers;
- on the territorial scope of the data protection regulation. In simple words: EU data protection law will apply to non-European companies if they do business on our territory – the European Single Market.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court last week.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
The PCC published no adjudications this week. There were, however, eight published resolved complaints, two each against the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror, one against the Sun and three against local newspapers.
The most recent adjudication by the PCC – concerning a journalist’s personal Facebook messages – was criticised by David Banks and by Cleland Thom who both question this as an extension of the PCC’s remit.
In the Courts
On Wednesday 4 June 2014, Bean J heard an application in the case of MXA v London Borough of Harrow. An ex tempore judgment was given.
On Thursday 5 June 2014, Sir David Eady heard an application in the case of Charles-Warner v Palmer – a libel action by one litigant in person against another. A trial by judge alone was ordered.
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: email@example.com.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
In the case of Smith v Marshall ( WASC 185) Kenneth Martin J refused to strike out a second libel action, based on the same publication as an earlier settled action, as an abuse of the process of the Court.
A jury has awarded Can$350,000 damages to a University of Ottawa professor in a libel action against a former professor who alleged that she helped the university whitewash a student union report about racial discrimination. Denis Rancourt had referred to the plaintiff, Joanne St Lewis as the University president’s “house negro”. There is a report in the Ottawa Citizen (including a short interview with Ms St Lewis) and a post on the Canadian Lawyer blog. There is a blog dedicated to the discussion of case.
In the case of Gutowski v Clayton (2014 ONSC 2908) the Ontario Superior Court of Justice held that a municipal councillor did not enjoy absolute privilege for comments made in the course of council meetings. The action was brought by one councillor against another. The Court held that there was no good reason for extending the doctrine to cover such comments. There is a news report about the decision in the local newspaper, the Frontenac News.
On 2 June 2014 the Beirut “Publications Court” issued two rulings against a number of journalists and media professionals on defamation charges. These were condemned by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.
The Prime Minister, Najib Razak, has commenced a defamation action against the independent news website, Malaysiakini.com over a piece alleging government corruption. The website intends to fight the case. An initial hearing is set for 18 June 2014.
The television channel Geo News has served legal notice on the Ministry of Defence, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) for defaming and maligning it as being “anti-state”. The PEMRA ordered the channel off air and fined it. There is a post about the story on the CPJ website by Sumit Galhotra entitled “When Pakistan’s largest news channel becomes the news”.
Research and Resources
- A Bolder Step Towards Privacy Protection in Hong Kong: A Statutory Cause of Action , Asian Journal of Comparative Law (Forthcoming), Jojo Mo and A. K. C. Koo, SSRN.
- Defamation Suits Used to Bludgeon Southeast Asian Bloggers and Independent Press, Jeremy Malcolm, Electronic Frontier Foundation.
- Data Protection and Child Protection, Christopher Knight, Panopticon Blog.
Next week in the courts
On 9 June 2014, there will be a trial in the case of Johnson v Steele before Dingemans J.
There will be a CMC in the case of Ansari v Knowles on Wednesday 10 June 2014.
On the same day Sir David Eady will hear an application in the case of ReachLocal UK v Bennett. There were previous hearings on 28 March and 30 April.
On 13 June 2014 there will an application in the case of Johnston v League Publications.
There are currently no reserved judgements outstanding in media law cases.