The libel claim brought in Portugal by Kate and Gerry McCann against former police officer, Goncalo Amaral has been adjourned for the fourth time. In a 2008 book Mr Amaral said that the couple had hidden their daughter’s body and faked an abduction after she died in an accident.
An adjournment was granted for a period of 10 days after Mr Amaral sacked his legal team at the last minute. There were reports in many media outlets including the BBC, the Daily Mail and the Independent.
The Judicial College has issued a revised edition of its guide to “Reporting Restrictions in the Criminal Courts” [pdf]. The booklet has been revised by media law barrister Guy Vassall-Adams. The guidance has been adopted by the Media Lawyers’ Association, the Society of Editors and the Newspaper Society. There was a piece about the new guide in the Press Gazette.
A Parliamentary Privilege (Defamation) Bill prepared by Lord Lester QC has been introduced in the House of Lords. This is a one clause bill to repeal section 13 of the Defamation Act 1996. There is an Explanatory Note.
Lancashire police have backed down on their plan to stop releasing photographs of people who have been jailed for less than 12 months, admitting that this is against ACPO Guidelines. There is a piece about this by Cleland Thom in the Press Gazette.
Meanwhile, the Phone Hacking Trial has completed its thirtieth week during which the jury has continued its deliberations. The verdict is expected within the next few weeks.
There is a post on the Hawktalk blog entitled “Why the European Parliament view of ‘data subject consent’ should be supported”.
The Information Rights and Wrongs blog has a post about the case of Mansfield v John Lewis– a claim concerning the sending of “spam emails” brought under regulation 30 of The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.
The EU justice commissioner, Viviane Reding has said that her office has begun an assessment of the safe harbour agreement with the US. She said “The safe-harbour agreement may not be so safe after all,” arguing “it could be a loophole” that allowed companies to shift data to the US where “data protection standards are lower than our European ones”.
As Out-law.com notes, this announcement comes after the High Court of Ireland referred to the European Court of Justice a case brought by privacy campaigners who are seeking an investigation into allegations that companies including Facebook, which has its European headquarters in Europe, helped the US National Security Agency (NSA) harvest email and other private data from European citizens (see Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner  IEHC 310 and Irish Times Blog post).
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 five published resolved complaints: two against the Daily Mail, and one each against the Metro, the Sunday Mirror and the Times Literary Supplement. The last concerned a clause 1 complaint in relation to a story about a non-existent manuscript of a translation of an alternative ending to Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.
In the Courts
On Monday 16 June 2014, HHJ Parkes QC heard an application in the case of Stocker v Stocker. Judgment was reserved.
On Tuesday 17 June 2014, the same judge heard an application in the case of Tardios v Linton. Judgment was reserved. There will be a further hearing on 24 June 2014.
On 18 June 2014, the Master of the Rolls, Jackson and Vos LJJ heard the appeal in the case of PNM v Times Newspapers Ltd. Judgment was reserved.
On Tuesday 17 June 2014 there was an application in the case of Tardios v Linton before HHJ Parkes QC. Judgment was reserved.
On Wednesday 18 June 2014, there was a CMC in the case of Building Register v Weston before Nicola Davies J. This was adjourned part heard to 23 June 2014.
On Thursday 19 June 2014, HHJ Parkes QC heard an application in the case of Cartius v Atlantic Mobility. Judgment was reserved. There will be a further application on 24 or 25 June 2014.
On Friday 20 June 2014 Bean J heard the PTR in the case of Garcia v Associated Newspapers. Judgment was reserved.
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
The Federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey, was unsuccessful in his bid to have his defamation claim against Fairfax Media in relation to stories published on 5 May 2013 heard this year. It was later agreed that the hearing would take place on 9 to 16 March 2015.
In the case of Equustek Solutions Inc. v Jack et al, 2014 BCSC 1063) the British Columbia Supreme Court has issued an interim third party injunction against Google, ordering it to stop indexing or referencing certain websites in its search results, not just in Canada but everywhere. Fenlon J found that the court had jurisdiction over Google and jurisdiction to make the order. There is a post about the decision in the IPKat blog.
The Federal Court, in the decision in Henry v Bell Mobility 2014 FC 555 has awarded a very modest sum of damages to a customer of Bell Mobility whose phone account was accessed by an impostor. There is a comment about the case on the Canadian Privacy Law Blog.
Transport Minister Joe Mizzi has lost a libel case he had filed against Alleanza Liberali leader John Zammit. The Magistrate said that there was no evidence that Mr Zammit had written the comments which were, in any event, not libellous.
Ken Millar, the interim chief executive of the Northern Ireland Law Commission has said that the Commission might recommend legislation to the Department of Finance and Personnel to reform the law of defamation in the province.
On 16 June 2014, in the case of Sarah Jones v Dirty World Entertainment [pdf] the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a libel judgment in favour of a former cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals Football Team. The Court found that the site was protected under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. There are reports about the decision on the RCFP blog and on the ars technica website.
Media practitioners have applauded the Constitutional Court for ruling that criminal defamation statutes must be struck down as being inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression. There was an editorial in the Financial Gazette (Harare) welcoming the decision.
Research and Resources
- “Explaining the Issues: Criminal Libel”, Peter Noorlander, MLDI.
- “The Curious Case of Kennedy v Charity Commission”, Richard Clayton, MLDI Blog.
- “Czech New Civil Code – Protection of Personal Rights”, Czech Defamation Law Blog.
Next week in the courts
On Monday 23 June 2014, Nicol J will hear applications in the case of ReachLocal UK v Bennett.
On the same day Nicola Davies J will continue the hearing of the CMC in the case of Building Register v Weston.
On 24 June 2014, there will be an application in the case of Tardios v Linton.
On the same day there will be an application in the case of Cartus Corporation v Atlantic Mobility Ltd
The following reserved judgment in media law cases are outstanding:
SRJ v Persons Unknown 11 June 2014 (Sir David Eady)
Stocker v Stocker, heard 16 June 2014 (HHJ Parkes QC)
Tardios v Linton, heard 17 June 2014 (HHJ Parkes QC)
PNM v Times Newspapers, heard 18 June 2014 (Master of the Rolls, Jackson and Vos LJJ).
Cartius v Atlantic Mobility, heard 19 June 2014 (HHJ Parkes QC)
Garcia v Associated Newspapers, heard 20 June 2014 (Bean J)