We begin with two interesting judgments which were handed down this week, one by the High Court and one by the Court of Appeal, following hearings last term and in the summer legal vacation.
First, there was the judgment in the only media libel trial of 2014. On 6 October 2014, Dingemans J handed down judgment in the case of Garcia v Associated Newspapers ( EWHC 3137 (QB)) . The claimant doctor was awarded damages of £45,000 in respect of a “Daily Mail” article written by former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie. The Mail reported the decision in accordance with its IPSO code obligation. We had a news post about the decision which was also covered in the Press Gazette, on ITV News and in The Drum. There was a 1 Brick Court case comment.
Secondly, on Thursday 9 October 2014, there was the judgment of the Court of Appeal (Arden, Jackson and Macfarlane LJJ) in the case of OPO v MLA ( EWCA Civ 1277). There was a news report about the decision in the Guardian with the headline “Ex-wife of well-known performer obtains injunction against book to protect son”. There was also an article about the case in the Mail on Sunday. There was also a 5RB case comment.
The Sunday Times reports [£] that the Police Federation intends to spend almost £1m on the claim brought by PC Toby Rowland against Andrew Mitchell MP.
The Press Gazette noted the issue of an “Operation Elveden” claim against the Metropolitan Police by a former Royal Navy captain. There was also a report in the Mail on Sunday.
The Times draws attention to the fact [£] that 47 years ago, on 12 October 1967 (or was it 11 October?), there was a statement in open court announcing the settlement of a remarkable libel action. The case was brought by then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, against the members of rock band called The Move over the publication of a defamatory postcard featuring a cartoon of Mr Wilson in bed with a woman. There is a report on the BBC website. The late Mr Quinton Hogg QC (as he then was) appeared for Mr Wilson and Mr Richard Hartley for the defendants. As part of the settlement, proceeds from the song “Flowers in the Rain” continue to be paid to charity.
The Hawktalk Blog suggests that the Government is planning to reject the recommendations of the Law Commission’s scoping study on “Data Sharing between Public Bodies” and to implement is own extensive data sharing proposals. The post sets out a number of concerns about the Government’s proposal.
The Information Commissioner’s Office blog has a post by Steve Wood on “Changing your name and gender: the data protection implications”.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court this week.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
There has been no activity in the last week from the Press Complaints Commission which now seems definitively dead and gone. Its successor, IPSO, has not released any decisions of any kind in the first month of its existence.
Roy Greenslade draws attention to the latest ABC Circulation figures, showing a seasonal pick up in September but continuing long term sales decline.
The same blog also draws attention to the latest issue of Index on Censorship, “Seeing the future of journalism – will the public know more?” – which he describes as “a must read for journalists”.
In the Courts
We have already mentioned the two important judgments handed down this week, Garcia v Associated Newspapers ( EWHC 3137 (QB)) and OPO v MLA ( EWCA Civ 1277).
Our attention has been drawn by the claimants’ solicitors, Brett Wilson LLP, to the final judgment in the case of QRS v Beach  EWHC 3319 (QB)) given by Stuart-Smith J on 16 September 2014 in default of defence. Although it is the final judgment in the action it was, confusingly, delivered before Slade J’s judgment on the interim injunction application ( EWHC 3057 (QB)) – given on 26 September 2014 following a hearing on 13 August 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
In the case of Sims v Jooste (No.2)  WASC 373, Kenneth Martin J dismissed an action for libel based on publication on a website known as HotCopper. The defence of justification succeeded.
It is reported by Reuters that pro-democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab, is to go on trial in Bahrain accused of insulting the Interior and Defence Ministries.
In the case of Prokorym v Turpin 2014 BCSC 1893, Meiklem J conducted a summary trial of a claim for defamation arising out of an alleged defamatory email. She found for the plaintiff and awarded general damages of Can$30,000 and punitive damages of Can $10,000.
The former prime minister of Newfoundland, Danny Williams, has sued the province’s largest daily newspaper, the St John’s Telegram, for libel in respect of what he claims are allegations of influence peddling.
The Canadian Privacy Law blog notes that that the controversial cyberbullying and lawful access law, Protecting Canadians from Online Crime” bill is about to be passed by the House of Commons.
It is reported that prosecutors have indicted a Japanese journalist on charges of defaming the President by citing rumours that her whereabouts were unclear after the April 2014 ferry disaster. It is said that the journalist was prevented from leaving the country. It is reported that the Japanese Government has summoned the South Korean ambassador to Japan to protest about the charge.
The International Press Institute has urged the Italian Senate to amend the pending defamation bill to bring the measure into line with international standards on free expression. The bill fails full to abolish the criminal offences of insult and defamation.
The Irish Times has a report on the Supreme Court judgments in Talbot v Hermitage Golf Club  IESC 57 (Denham CJ, Hardman J and Charleton J. The Court dismissed Mr Talbot’s appeal against a High Court decision in relation to a 2003 notice sent to him by the defendant golf club. The case, in which Mr Talbot acted in person, occupied 83 days in the High Court and the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice called for the greater use of case management.
It is reported that Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel are suing the publishers of Heat magazine for defamation in the High Court in Dublin. The claim relates to an article, photographs and quotes attributed to Total Recall actress Biel which were published last month.
The Constitutional Court has heard an appeal in the case of S v Motsepe brought by a journalist who was convicted of criminal defamation. The is a report on the PEN international website. The Court reserved judgment. The case is also discussed on the Freedom of Expression Institute website.
Research and Resources
- “On Privacy”, Annabelle Lever, University of Geneva, SSRN.
- “Political advertising bans and Freedom of Expression”, Greek Public Law Journal, Vol 27, (2014) Ronan Ó Fathaigh University of Amsterdam – Institute for Information Law (IViR), SSRN.
- “The end of jury trials in libel claims?”, Brett Wilson LLP blog
Next week in the courts
On Tuesday 14 October 2014 there will be an application in the case of Donovan v Gibbons.
On Thursday 16 October 2014, there will be an application in the case of Ontumulus v Collett. We had a case comment on previous decision in this litigatin
On the same day there will be another third party disclosure application in the case of Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd.
On Friday 17 October 2014 there will be an application in the case of Hamaizia and Anor v. The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis. Tugendhat J refused to strike this claim out in April 2013 ( EWHC 848 (QB))
The following reserved judgment in media law cases are outstanding:
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).
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