The trial of six senior staff and journalists from the Sun began last week at the Kingston Crown Court. There are nine counts on the indictment against the journalists: Chris Pharo, Jamie Pyatt, Graham Dudman, Ben O’Driscoll, Jamie Pyatt and John Troup. In addition, former Surrey police officer Simon Quinn is charged with misconduct in a public office. The full charges can be found here.
Opening the case, prosecuting counsel, Peter Wright QC, told the jury that the defendants had corrupted public officials “on a grand scale”. He said that they had used a “calculated and deliberate” policy of paying public officials. All defendants deny all the charges. There were reports of the prosecution opening on the BBC website, in the Guardian, the Press Gazette, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. It appears that the trial before HHJ Marks QC could last until Christmas.
Another “Operation Elveden” trial is taking place at the Old Bailey. The defendants are a former prison officer, Scott Chapman, Daily Star crime reporter Tom Savage and a journalist from the News of the World who cannot be named at present. The court has heard that Mr Chapman received over £40,000 from newspapers including the Sun, the News of the World, the People, the Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Star and the Sunday Daily Star for information about child murderer Jon Venables. All defendants have denied all the charges. There was a report in the Drum, and also in the Guardian and the Independent.
On 16 October 2014, Mr Justice Saunders dismissed applications for costs made by Charlie Brooks and Stuart Kuttner following their acquittals in the Phone Hacking trial. He said:
I have refused both applications for costs as I am satisfied that the defendants’ conduct brought suspicion on themselves and misled the prosecution into thinking that the case against them was stronger than it was”.
There is a post on the LSE Media Policy Project by Inge Graef on the European Commission’s approval of the Facebook/What’s App deal. She argues that the Commission should have examined the impact data concentration can have an attracting and retaining users and privacy as a means of competition between competing services.
The One Brick Court website notes the death of the well-known libel practitioner, Geoffrey Shaw QC, after an illness.
The Cyberleagle blog notes some of the submissions to the Investigatory Powers Review being carried out by David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.
The Canadian Privacy Law blog has a presentation entitled “Right to be forgotten in Canada? Not so fast”.
Chris Pounder has published his evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee [pdf] in support of the argument that the Data Protection Act should apply to the processing of personal data by the national security agencies. He has a post about the issue on the Hawktalk blog.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
On Sunday the Conservative MP, Mark Pritchard, announced on Twitter that he had reached a confidential “amicable settlement” with the Sunday Mirror over his complaint concerning the Brooks Newmark investigation. However, later in the day it was reported that IPSO was still, “considering whether this case raises broader questions which demand further investigation from the regulator” (contrary to the Guardian headline, it did not say that was to “pursue its inquiry”).
Two interesting posts Roy Greenslade about RIPA and police bail. The first entitled “Press Freedom the winner if the use of police bail and Ripa are curbed” and the second entitled “Why Sun journalists on police bail deserve our sympathy”.
Last Week in the Courts
On Tuesday 14 October 2014 there was an application in the case of Donovan v Gibbons before HHJ Parkes QC. Judgment was reserved.
On Thursday 16 October 2014, there was a CMC in the case of Ontumulus v Collett before Warby J.
On same day there was a hearing in the managed Mobile Telephone Voicemail Interception Litigation before Mann J. As already mentioned, a statement in open court on behalf of David Walliams was read.
On the same day there was a third party disclosure application in the case of Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd before Mitting J.
On Thursday 16 October 2014 there was a trial of the case of Hamaizia and Anor v. The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis before HHJ Parkes QC. 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
In the case of Bateman v Fairfax Media (No.2)  NSWSC 1380, McCallum J struck out a so-called Hore-Lacy defence – that is a defence of justification directed to a meaning different to that contended for by the plaintiff. The judge held that (contrary to the position in other Australian states and that in England and Wales) a defence of justification in New South Wales had to meet the case pleaded by the plaintiff on meaning.
There is a piece on the Scotslawblog entitled “Defamation and Digitalisation – Can Scotland Stay in the Dark Age?”
It is reported that the Zambian subsidiary of Dangote Cement has commenced libel proceedings against the Labour Minister after he accused an executive of the company of attempting to bribe him.
Research and Resources
- “A Libel Revolution?”, [pdf] Adam Speker and Felicity McMahon, 5RB, The Middle Templar.
- “What is Wrong with Compelled Speech”, Steven Shiffrin, Journal of Law and Politics (forthcoming), SSRN.
- “A Seed on Barren Ground? The ALRC’s Recommendation for a Statutory Privacy Tort”, Normann Witzleb, (2014) 42 Australian Business Law Review 403-405
Next week in the courts
On 20 October 2014, there will be a statement in open court in the case of Fernandez-Versini v The National Magazine Company Ltd. The claimant is the husband of the singer Cheryl Cole and the action is against Reveal magazine. There was a report about the action in Mail Online.
On 23 and 24 October 2014 there will be a two day PTR in the joined cases of Mitchell v News Group Newspapers and Rowland v Mitchell – which are listed for a 12 day trial beginning on 17 November 2014.
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).
Donovan v Gibbons, heard 14 October 2014 (HHJ Parkes QC)
Hamaizia and Anor v. The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, heard 16 October 2014 (HHJ Parkes QC)