The Phone Hacking Trial has completed its twenty ninth week. The Judge’s summing up occupied Monday 9 June (Day 118), Tuesday 10 June (Day 119), concluding on Wednesday 11 June (Day 120) when the jury were sent out to consider their verdicts. Now, seven months after the commencement of the trial, everyone is waiting for the jury to reach its conclusions.
Meanwhile, a new tranche of phone hacking litigation – this time against Mirror Group newspapers – is gathering pace. At a hearing on 11 June 2014, Mann J was told that 20 claims have now been issued, with another 10 due to issue shortly. A trial is expected in February 2015.
A campaign has been launched to by Hannah Weller to change the law to protect children from media intrusion. Ms Weller made this call outside the High Court in London where her husband, Paul Weller, recently won privacy damages from the Mail Online over pictures of their children. There were reports on BBC News and the Press Gazette.
The Court of Appeal has handed down a decision lifting, in part, the controversial restrictions on reporting a terrorism trial. We had posts about this decision by Lawrence McNamara (here and here). There was a report in the Press Gazette.
In the “Plebgate” litigation, Tugendhat J has ruled that police statements related to the Plebgate row at should be disclosed to both former Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell and The Sun ahead of a an expected libel trial ( EWHC 1885 (QB)). There was a report in the Press Gazette.
On 11 June 2014, Jeremy Baker J handed down judgment in the DPA case of AB v Ministry of Justice ( EWHC 1847 (QB)). The case involved failures to respond to section 7 requests by a solicitor within the proper time frame. The judge held that there was “damage” and awarded £1 nominal damages. He then went on to award distress damages of £2,250. There is a post about the case on the Panopticon Blog.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court last week.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
The PCC published three adjudications this week:
- Edward Watt v The Herald, This was a complaint under clause 1 by a person who had been acquitted of rape. It was held that sufficient remedial action had been offered. There is a report about the adjudication on the Press Gazette website.
- Richard Hillgrove v The Sunday Times. This was a complaint under clause 14 by an individual who had supplied information to a newspaper that he had been wrongly identified as a confidential source. The complaint was not upheld.There was also a post about this adjudication on the Press Gazette website.
- Northumbria Police v Independent on Sunday. This was a complaint under clause 1, concerning an allegation by the family of PC David Rathband that Northumbria Police had “failed” to protect his welfare after he was shot by Raoul Moat whilst on duty. The Independent breached the Code by failing to include a police comment on the story. However, they had offered sufficient remedial action. There was a report on the Press Gazette website.
The PCC also published six published resolved complaints, two against the Daily Mail and one each against the Sun, the Sunday Times, Fabulous Magazine and Farmers Weekly.
In the run up to England’s (so far unproductive) World Cup campaign the Sun, controversially, sent out 22 million free copies of a special edition – controversially endorsed by the main party leaders. A post on the Brown Moses Hackgate blog drew attention to the absence of an imprint on the newspapers are required by Newspapers, Printers, and Reading Rooms Repeal Act 1869. Tom Watson MP later wrote to the Royal Mail and the Attorney-General asking them to investigate the issue.
In the Courts
On 9 June 2014, there was a trial in the case of Johnson v Steele before Dingemans J. Judgment was reserved.
On the same day there was an application before Sir David Eady in the case of ReachLocal UK Ltd v Bennett. An ex tempore judgment was given.
On 11 June 2014 Sir David Eady heard an application in the case of SRJ v Persons Unknown. An ex tempore judgment was given.
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 6 June 2014, Hall J gave judgment in relation to interest and costs in the well known “restraurant review” case of Gacic v John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd (No 2) ( NSWSC 738). The total judgment sum in favour of each plaintiff was Aus$207,842.19. There were articles about the case in the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph.
In the case of R v Spencer (2014 SCC 43), the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that internet users have a reasonable expectation of privacy and anonymity online. There are posts about the case on the Canadian Privacy Law blog, the Privacy and Data Security Law blog and The Law of Privacy in Canada blog.
CBC news reports that a former “Real Housewives of Vancouver” star Jody Claman and her daughter are suing co-star Mary Zilba for libel over comments made in the media after Claman’s daughter was injured in a drive-by shooting. The Statement of Claim said that during a CBC interview, Ms Zilba,
“made defamatory comments that included statements to the effect that Ms. Deakin associated herself with criminals or individuals of unsavoury character and that Ms. Deakin herself engages in criminal behaviour,”
A blogger sued by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for libel has been sacked from his job as a healthcare worker for “improper public conduct”.
It is reported that the Constitutional Court has ruled that criminal defamation must be struck off the statutes because it is not a justifiable law in a democratic society like Zimbabwe’s.
Research and Resources
- Liability for Online Anonymous Speech: Comparative and Economic Analyses
Journal of European Tort Law, Vol. 5, 2014, Ronen Perry and Tal Zarsky. SSRN.
- Online Harassment, Defamation, and Hateful Speech: A Primer of the Legal Landscape , Fordham Center on Law and Information Policy Report No. 2, Alice E. Marwick and Ross W. Miller, SSRN
Next week in the courts
On 17 or 18 June 2014, the Master of the Rolls, Jackson and Vos LJJ will hear the appeal in the case of PNM v Times Newspapers Ltd.
On Tuesday 17 June 2014 there will be an application in the case of Tardios v Linton.
On Wednesday 18 June 2014, there will be a CMC in the case of Building Register v Weston.
On Friday 20 June 2014 there will be a PTR in the case of Garcia v Associated Newspapers.
The following reserved judgement in a media law case is outstanding:
Johnson v Steele 9 June 2014 (Dingemans J).