The settlement of the only privacy trial listed for this legal term was announced yesterday. Express Newspapers has apologised unreservedly and paid damages to Mike Tindall, husband of Zara Phillips. As we reported in our Michaelmas Round Up, the case was due to be tried on 10 November 2014.
The BBC reported that Mr Tindall’s spokesman said that the money would be donated to charity.
The trial of six senior staff and journalists from the Sun is continuing the Kingston Crown Court. The story is already beginning to disappear from the media. There was a report in the Guardian on 20 October and in the Press Gazette on 21 October and 22 October.
At the same time there is a trial of a Daily Star Sunday reporter Tom Savage and former prison officer Scott Chapman at the Old Bailey. There was a report in the Guardian and one in the Lancashire Evening Post.
We mentioned last week the ruling of Saunders J in refusing costs to Charlie Brooks and Stuart Kuttner. The full ruling is available here on Peter Jukes’s blog.
It is reported that boxing promoter Frank Warren has been awarded libel damages of £50,000 against Alex Morrison over allegations about the reasons for the postponement of a boxing match.
The Hawktalk blog reports that the European Commission is still considering infraction proceedings against the UK on failing properly to implement the Data Protection Directive via the Data Protection Act 1998.
The Datonomy Blog draws attention to the Olswang Cyber Alert October 2014 [pdf] which has just been published.
The Privacy and Information Security Law Blog notes the introduction of a Right to be Forgotten Bill into the Brazilian Congress. The bill has one substantive Article:
Art 1 – It is required, by request of any citizen or person involved, to remove links from Internet search engines that make reference to irrelevant or outdated data.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
On 20 October 2014, there was a statement in open court in the case of Fernandez-Versini v The National Magazine Company Ltd. We had a post about the statement. There was also a piece on the Greenslade blog.
On 23 October 2014 there was a statement in open court in the case of Such and anor v Times Newspapers. The case concerned an article entitled “Love-split scandal vicar sees church burned to the ground”. It was the third time that the Times had made the same false allegations about two vicars. There was a post about the statement on the Greenslade blog and an item on the 5RB website.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
On 20 October 2014, IPSO announced its first “resolved complaint” – that brought by Sarah Wollaston MP against the Sun about the publication by The Sun of a story and images on the subject of a “devil mark” on a four-year-old child. The Sun agreed to publish an apology on page 2 – the Hacked Off website draws attention to the relative sizes of the apology and the original story.
The “settlement” of Mark Pritchard’s complaint to IPSO has led to a number of comments this week. Roy Greenslade has a post entitled “Why did the Sunday Mirror settle with Tory MP who complained to IPSO?” He notes that the Mirror made a donation to a charity of Mr Pritchard’s choice and concludes
In the interests of transparency, we need to know much more about this affair. I now look to Ipso to get to the bottom of this. It is important for the public to know the story behind the sordid story.
Last Week in the Courts
On 21 October 2014, HHJ Parkes QC handed down judgments in four cases.
First, there was the case Hamaizia and Anor v. The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, ( EWHC 3408 (QB)), heard 16 October 2014)
Second, there was the case of Donovan v Gibbons ( EWHC 3406) (QB) heard 14 October 2014. The case concerned an allegation that a pony, called “Lady Gaga”, was dangerous. There was a report in the Daily Telegraph. The case report was entertainingly indexed by Lawtel under “Defamation-Animals”
Third, there was the case of ReachLocal v Bennett ( EWHC 3405 (QB)). This was a hearing to consider the terms of final relief, following the entering of judgment in default of defence. An award of damages of £75,000 was made in favour of the first claimant company, with an award of £100 nominal damages in favour of the second claimant company, which had never traded in this country.
Finally, there was the case of Coulson v Wilby  EWHC 3404 (QB) in which an interim injunction was granted to two Independent Police Complaints Commission case work managers against a blogger, Neil Wilby. There was a news item about the case in the Huddersfield Examiner, under the headline: “‘Malicious blogger’ Neil Wilby banned from contacting Independent Police Complaints Commission investigators after ‘tormenting’ them online”
On 23 and 24 October 2014 there was a two day PTR in the joined cases of Mitchell v News Group Newspapers and Rowland v Mitchell before Warby J. There was a report of the hearing in the Independent entitled “Reconstruction costs risk ‘spinning out of control’ in Plebgate case”.
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 case of Freeburn v The Cake Decorators Association of NSW Inc. (No 2)  NSWDC 173 concerned a libel action by a member of the Cake Decorator’s Guild of Australia against another cake decorating association which she claimed defamed her in its newsletter. The allegations were not serious and the costs were “grossly disproportionate to the issue of vindication of the plaintiff’s reputation”  The claim was dismissed on the basis that the defendants would publish an apology. There was no order as to costs. There is a report about the judgment in the Sydney Morning Herald entitled “Judge ices cake decorators’ defamation case”.
In the case of Petty v Zhao  NSWDC 174 Gibson DCJ considered an application to strike out a defence of justification which was only partially successful.
There is an interesting piece by Richard Ackland in the Guardian about the action being brought by Professor Barry Spurr against the website New Matilda concerning the publication of some curious leaked emails.
There was a piece on CBC News entitled “How libel chill is quashing negative online reviews”.
It is reported that the defamation claim brought by Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel against Heat magazine has settled.
The 17th Chamber of the TGI Paris has awarded defamation damages of €3,000 against journalist Caroline Fourest arising out of an article concerning a complaint of a racist and Islamophobic attack made by the complainant Rabia Bentot
Research and Resources
- “The Role of Vindication in Torts Damages”, Norman Witzleb and Robyn Carroll (2009) 17 Tort Law Review 16, SSRN.
- “The Right to be forgotten: forced amnesia in a Technological Age”, Robert Lee Bolton, SSRN.
- “Preventing Harm or Silencing Critics? The Drive to Decriminalize Defamation in the European Union” [pdf], Orsolya Gulyás
- “The Solace of Oblivion: In Europe, the right to be forgotten trumps the Internet”, Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, 29 September 2014.
Next week in the courts
There are, as far as we are aware, only two media law hearings listed for next week.
On Monday 27 October 2014 Warby J will hear an application in the case of Johnson v Steele.
On 29 October 2014 there is an application in the case of Jackson v Hampshire NHS Hospital.
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).