The Phone Hacking Trial has finally come to an end, after 8 months, with one guilty verdict (against Andrew Coulson). The jury were unable to agree on two charges (against Andrew Coulson and Clive Goodman). The other five defendants – Rebekah Brooks, Stuart Kuttner, Charlie Brooks, Cheryl Carter and Mark Hanna – we acquitted on all charges. The CPS will announce, later today, whether they will seek a retrial of Messrs Coulson and Goodman on the two outstanding charges.
There was a split in the newspaper coverage: the Times, the Sun and the Daily Telegraph concentrated on the acquittal of Rebekah Brooks, the Guardian, the Independent and the Metro reported the conviction of Mr Coulson. Roy Greenslade has an interesting commentary on the divisions in the coverage.
Roy Greenslade also points out on his blog that the stories that the trial had resulted in only one conviction were completely wide of the mark as they ignored the three senior executives (Greg Miskiw, James Weatherup and Neville Thurlbeck), one reporter (Dan Evans) and one investigator (Glenn Mulcaire) who had already pleaded guilty.
A number of newspapers have attack the police investigation and prosecution, claiming that the phone hacking trial cost £100 million. It appears that the cost to the public purse was £1.74 million – with much greater sums being spent on defence costs (and, with one exception, being paid by News Corporation). It appears that the total costs of the police investigations to date have been £32.7 million. A breakdown can be found in an article in the Press Gazette (which gives a £40 million figure, but this includes the sum spent on the Leveson inquiry).
Now that the phone hacking trial we should record our thanks to the various diligent journalists who have keep interested readers up to date with the twists and turns of the evidence for the past 8 months. In addition the coverage in the Guardian and the Independent we would single out the following
- Martin Hickman – whose posts from the Hacked Off Blog we have republished – and who is publishing the book “Beyond Contempt: the Inside Story of the Phone Hacking Trial” by
- Peter Jukes, who has tweeted the whole trial and published daily collections of those tweets on his blog – which provides a remarkable resource for the understanding and analysis of what took place
- James Doleman – whose twice daily pieces on the Drum have provided comprehensive daily coverage – he has two final pieces “Why was Rebekah Brooks found not guilty?” and “Why was Andy Coulson found guilty?“
- Rosie Robertson, whose #pressreform blog has gathered together most of the tweets and many of the links relating to the trial over 8 months.
In the case of Appleyard v Wilby, the claimant was awarded £60,000 libel damages by Bean J after default judgment had been entered in respect of defamatory blogs and tweets. The Defendant alleged that the the Claimant had misused his position as a police officer to protect paedophiles and rapists, had prevented complaints made against Mr Savile from being investigated, was himself a physical threat to children, had committed sexual offences and was dishonest. There was a news report on the 5RB website and in, among other publications, the Yorkshire Evening Post and the Huddersfield Examiner.
The leading claimant law firm, Schillings, is 30 years old and has marked the anniversary with a piece on its website by Keith Schilling “Three decades of libel, privacy, defamation and reputation”
The French Data Protection blog, Donnees personelles has the slides of a talk given (in English) by its editor Thiébaut Devergranne,: “Data Protection:new directions from Europe”.
The UK launch of Google Glass was announced last week. There is a post on the ICO Blog by Senior Technology Officer, Andrew Paterson, “Wearable technology – the future of privacy”.
On June 25, 2014, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama Administration is looking to pass legislation that would provide EU citizens with a right to judicial redress in U.S. courts if their personal information that was shared for law enforcement purposes is later intentionally or wilfully disclosed. There is a post about this on the Privacy and Information Security Law Blog.
As the new European Parliament considers the Data Protection Regulation, Privacy International raises the important issue, “How privacy-friendly is the new European Parliament?”. It points out that 83 MEPs from the 6 largest parliamentary groups and from 18 different member states have signed up to the 10 point “WePromiseEU” Charter. These 10 pledges included “(2) I will support data protection and privacy legislation”, “(5) I will not support blanket, unchecked surveillance measures”, “(6) I will promote online anonymity and encryption”, and “(8) I will support export controls of surveillance and censorship technology”
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court last week.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
The Media Standards Trust commissioned a poll which shows that 68% of the public believe that it is important a new system of press self-regulation is periodically reviewed by a Recognition Panel and that only 17% would have confidence in a system set up by major newspaper publishers. The full poll results are available at YouGov here (pdf).
It was announced that Barrister David Wolfe QC would chair the press regulation recognition panel constituted under the Royal Charter on Press Regulation. Meanwhile, the Press Gazette reported a bizarre attack on the Royal Charter by Lord Lester who apparently regarded it as outrageous because some people that he talks to have confused it with the Star Chamber. The Media Blog had a post “IPSO under fire already”
The PCC published no adjudications this week. There were two published resolved complaints: one against the Daily Mail under clause 3 and one against the Scottish Sun under clause 1.
The Polis blog has a piece by Charlie Beckett “What does the Brooks Coulson phone-hacking verdict tell us about editors’ responsibility for their newsrooms?”
In the Courts
Applications in the case of ReachLocal UK v Bennett were heard by Nicol J on 23 June 2014 and an ex tempore judgment was given.
On the same day Nicola Davies J concluded the hearing of the CMC in the case of Building Register v Weston. Judgment was reserved.
The applications in the case of Cartus Corporation v Siddell were heard by Nicol J on 24 to 26 June 2014. Judgment was reserved.
The trial in Ansari v Knowles which was due to take place last week was settled.
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 Jamaica Observer reports that the Antigua and Barbuda Government says it will, by next week, draft legislation abolishing criminal defamation.
In the case of Cripps v Vakras ( VSC 279) Kyrou J gave a reserved judgment after an 8 day breach of contract and defamation trial. The defamation claim arose out of two articles published by the defendants on the internet which alleged, inter alia, that the gallery owner plaintiff was a “self confessed racist” who had adopted the sentiments Hitler expressed in Mein Kampf and had sexually harassed volunteers and staff at the gallery. The Judge found that Mr Vakras was liable to pay to Mr Cripps damages totalling $350,000 (inclusive of $100,000 for aggravated damages) and was liable to pay to Redleg Museum Services Pty Ltd (which ran the gallery) damages totalling $15,000. The second defendant, Ms Raymond was liable to pay to Mr Cripps damages totalling $70,000 (inclusive of $20,000 for aggravated damages) and to Redleg damages totalling $15,000. There is an article about the case in the Herald Sun “Artist Demetrios Vakras must pay $350,000 after comparing gallery owner Robert Cripps to Adolf Hitler” and an article in the Age, “Gallery owner award $450,000 after being defamed by two artists”.
The Equustek case (see our comment here) has generated considerable discussion. Michael Geist’s blog has a post entitled “Should Canadian Courts decide what the world gets to see online?”, there was a post on the Sufficient Description patent blog and one on Copyright Enforcement.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has issued defamation proceedings against state Congress chief spokesperson K K Mishra, for levelling “baseless” allegations against him and his wife.
Former In-Nazzjon editor Joe Zahra and journalist Dione Borg have been found guilty of libel in a case involving Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia, then still a Labour MP. Madame Justice Schembri Orland awarded the Speaker €600 as compensation while the costs of court proceedings are to be paid by both the defendants.
It is reported that Nigerian singer, 2Face Idibia has filed a N100 million lawsuit against a local soft-sell magazine, Icon Weekly, for libel. Icon Weekly magazine had published a story claiming that a young Lagos banker named Teniola, who was supposedly Tuface’s account officer in one of the new generation banks was 3-months pregnant for him.
The Advisory Council of the Northern Ireland Libel Reform Campaign has been launched in Belfast to urge Stormont to bring Northern Ireland libel law into line with that in England and Wales. There is a news item about the launch on the Libel Reform Campaign website.
The entrepreneur, musician and philanthropist Yank Harry has sued four editors of Wikipedia alleging that they conspired to damage him by “wrongful conduct, defamation and invasion of privacy”.
The Jerusalem Post reports that Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto and an associate, Benzion Suky, filed a $30 million lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court week against Keshet, an Israeli TV production house, and Israeli journalist Ilana Dayan for an investigative piece the plaintiffs said showed “malice and ill-will” toward the rabbi and his charity, Shuva Israel.
The SCOTUS blog had a symposium about the important mobile phone privacy case of Riley v Caifornia which was handed down on 25 June 2014. There was a post on Paul Bernal’s blog entitled “Privacy-friendly judges?”
Research and Resources
- MsLod’s new round-up, law and technology
- Anonymity in Social Media , Phoenix Law Review, Vol. 7, 2013, Laura Rogal , SSRN
- The Regulation of the Defamation of Public Figures in Europe, with Special Emphasis on the Hungarian Legal System In: A Koltay (ed.): Media Freedom and Regulation in the new Media World. Budapest, Wolters Kluwer, 2014 (Forthcoming) András Koltay, SSRN.
- Rape, Defendant Anonymity and Human Rights: Adopting a ‘Wider Perspective’ , (3) Criminal Law Review 199-215, 2011, Clare McGlynn Durham Law School, Durham University
Next week in the courts
On Tuesday 1 July 2014, there will be an application in the case of OPO v MLA.
On Wednesday 2 July 2014 there will be applications in the cases of Kadir v Channel 5 and Eze Europe Ltd v Garcia.
The appeal in the case of Flood v Times Newspapers, will be heard on 8 or 9 July 2014 by the Master of the Rolls, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division and Sharp LJ.
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)
Building Register v Weston. heard 23 June 2014 (Nicola Davies J)
Cartus Corporation v Atlantic Mobility Ltd , heard 24 to 26 June 2014 (Nicol J)