On Monday 21 July 2014, the trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos collapsed after the judge had ruled that it was likely that the Sun’s well known ex-News of the World investigative reporter, the “Fake Sheikh”, Mazher Mahmood, had attempted to persuade a witness to change his evidence and had then lied about it under oath. The full text of the Judge’s ruling can be found here.
Roy Greenslade has had long standing concerns about Mr Mahmood’s methods – and had agreed to be a witness for Ms Contostavlos. He has an interesting piece “At last Mazher Mahmood is brought to book for his subterfuge”. He followed this up with a second piece, “Mazher Mahmood: big press coverage – now police should face questions”. The Independent reported that more 30 criminal cases which relied on evidence given by Mr Mahmood were being reviewed as a result. Roy Greenslade discusses a number of these stories on his blog.
There have been two more convictions arising out of Operation Elveden. A former customs officer, Reggie Nunkoo and a former police support worker, Rosemary Collier, pleaded guilty on 25 July 2014 to charges of misconduct in publication office. The charges concerned dealings with a Mirror and Sun journalist. There was a report in the Press Gazette.
The publisher of the Northern Echo was fined £2,400 by Teesside Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to identifying a rape victim despite the fact that the rape case had not proceeded. There is a report of the case in the Press Gazette, “Northern Echo fined for naming alleged rape victim in ‘highly unusual’ case without legal precedent”.
The Privacy and Data Security Law blog has an update on a recent speech given by Information Commissioner Christopher Graham.
Reuters reports that regulators have been querying Google’s decision to remove search results only from its European search engines.
The Panopticon Blog has a post by Christopher Knight, “Personal Data in the CJEU” dealing with Cases C‑141/12 and C‑372/12 YS v Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel (judgment of 17 July 2014, nyr).
The WSJ Blog “Digits” has a post on “26 Questions EU Regulators Want Google to Answer”
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
On 23 July 2014, there was a statement in open court before Bean J in the case of Angelo Adkins v Corbis Images [pdf]. This was a privacy case, brought by the 2 year old son of singer, Adele, arising out of distribution of paparazzi photographs. Corbis, trading as Splash Image, agreed to pay damages (in a reported five figure sum) and legal costs and not to use the photos again. The statement was widely reported in the media, for example by the Guardian, Sky News and the Independent.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
There were two published PCC adjudications this week:
- Martin Sewell v The Cambridge Student: A clause 1 complaint in respect of an online story accusing a Cambridge University research associate of having “explicitly endorsed National Socialism” was upheld. The clarification published by the newspaper was held to be sufficient remedy. There was a report about this in the Press Gazette.
- Adrian Yalland v Romsey Advertiser: A clause 3 complaint concerning disclosure of an issue relating to the applicant’s health by a journalist. The PCC held that it was legitimate for the newspaper to make a limited enquiry of a third party and, as a result, there was no breach of clause 3.
There were six published resolved complaints: two against the Guardian, and one each against the Metro, the Daily Telegraph, the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette and the Staffordshire Newsletter.
The Greenslade blog notes that the Financial Times circulation reaches an all time high of 677,000 – including 455,000 digital subscribers.
In the Courts
The trial in the case of Garcia v Associated Newspapers began on 21 July 2014 before Dingemans J and is expected to last for 9 days. Ronald Thwaites QC and Harvey Starte, instructed by Taylor Hampton, appeared for the Claimant and Desmond Browne QC and Alex Marzec, instructed by RPC, for the Defendant. There was a news report of the case in the Daily Mail.
On 22 July 2014, HHJ Moloney QC heard an application in the harassment case of AstraZeneca UK Ltd & anr v Mathai & ors. Judgment was given on Friday 25 July 2014.
On 23 July 2014, there was a trial of a preliminary issue as to meaning and serious harm in the case of Cooke v MGN before Bean J. Judgment was reserved. There is a news item about the case on the David Price Solicitors and Advocates website (which makes the Defendants’ Skeleton Argument available [pdf]).
On the same day HHJ Moloney QC handed down judgment in the privacy case of NNN v Ryan [pdf]. Summary judgment was entered for the claimant and a permanent injunction was granted.
And, the Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal in the case of Contostavlos v News Group Newspapers.
On 24 July 2014, the Court of Appeal (Beatson and Sharp LLJ and Sir Timothy Lloyd) handed down judgment in Crawford v Jenkins  EWCA Civ 1035. There is a 5RB news item entitled “Witness Immunity Rule Extends to Harassment” and a Case Note.
On the same day Warby J gave directions in the two “Plebgate” libel actions, Mitchell v NGN and Rowland v Mitchell. The joint trial is due to commence on 17 November 2014 with a time estimate of 12 days. There is a news item about the case on the One Brick Court website. Judgment on an application in the Mitchell case was reserved and will be handed down on 24 July 2014.
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 DPP is seeking an order to commit the editor in chief of the Irish Independent concerning the publication in July 2014 of material concerning the collapse of the Anglo Irish Bank. The DPP has claimed that the publication prejudiced the proper administration of justice. There is a comment about the case on the Greenslade blog.
It is reported that the niece and sister of former presidential candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon have received substantial damages from TV3 but are continuing their case against Mrs Scallon. Proceedings had been issued against TV3 and Dana after an interview the former Eurovision singer gave to the station.
On 23 July 2014 the Court of Appeal acquitted former corruption investigator Kaewson Atipo of libel. The charge had been brought against him by the former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra in 2007.
Trinidad and Tobago
The leader of the Independent Liberal Party Jack Warner, was today ordered to pay a Councillor, Faaiq Mohammed, TT$220,000 in damages, after he accepted liability for accusing him of corruption following last year’s Local Government Elections.
On 22 July 2104, the Constitutional Court affirmed its earlier ruling decriminalising the highly contentious “insult” laws provided for in the Criminal Code. There is a report of this in New Zimbabwe.
Research and Resources
- Fundamentally Off Balance: European Union Data Protection Law and Media Expression, David Erdos, University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 42/2014, SSRN
- Serious Invasions of Privacy: Final APF Submission on ALRC Discussion Paper 80, David F. Lindsay , Peter Clarke , David Vaile , Graham Greenleaf , Bruce Arnold and Nigel Waters, Monash University – Faculty of Law , Independent , University of New South Wales (UNSW) – Faculty of Law , University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law , University of Canberra and University of New South Wales (UNSW) – Faculty of Law. SSRN
There are case notes on three recent cases:
- Cartus Corporation v Siddell  EWHC 2266 (QB) – from One Brick Court.
- Building Register Ltd v Weston  EWHC 2361 (QB) – from 5RB.
- Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust & Ors v Shaikh – from Brett Wilson.
Next week in the courts
On Monday 28 July 2014, Warby J will hand down judgment in the case of Mitchell v News Group Newspapers. This appears to be his first reserved judgment in a media case. We note that, for reasons which are unclear, the judiciary website has him assigned to the Family Division.
On Tuesday 29 July 2014, there will be an application in the case of Hegglin v Google Inc.
On the same day there will be an application in the case of Johnson v Hampshire NHS Trust.
On 30 July 2014, there will be a CMC in the case of Yeo v Times Newspapers Ltd.
On 31 July 2014, there will be a hearing in the case of Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust & ors v Shaikh
The following reserved judgment in media law cases are outstanding:
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)
Bewry v. Reed Elsevier UK Limited (T/A Lexisnexis), heard 7 July 2014 (Lewison, Macur and Sharp LJJ)
Flood v Times Newspapers, heard 8 July 2014 (Sharp and Macur LJJ and Sir Timothy Lloyd).
IG Index v Cloete. heard 9 July 2014, (Arden and Christopher Clarke LJJ and Barling J).
Sharma v Sharma heard 15 July 2014 (HHJ Moloney QC)
Cooke v MGN, heard 23 July 2014, (Bean J)