The BBC has announced that its scheduled Panorama programme about Mazher Mahmood, “The Fake Sheikh Exposed” has been delayed for legal reasons. There is a post about this on Roy Greenslade’s blog. It has been suggested that the programme might be broadcast next week, 10 November 2014.
Although the “legal reasons” have not been explained it is possible that these have something to do with the possibility that Mr Mahmood might face prosecution for his role in the Tulisa Contostavlos case. Some years ago, the Greater Manchester Police applied for an injunction to restrain the broadcast of a Donal McIntyre programme. The injunction was granted by the judge but overturned by the Court of Appeal shortly before broadcast (Chief Constable of Greater Manchester v Channel 5  EWCA Civ 739).
The only media libel trial of the term, arising out of the “Plebgate” saga is due to begin on 17 November 2014. The pre-trial review took place on 23 and 24 October 2014 before Warby J. He handed down judgment dealing with expert evidence and similar fact evidence on 31 October 2014 ( EWHC 3590 (QB)).
The detail of this case continuing to attract press comment. On 31 October 2014, the Press Gazette reported on the terms of Andrew Mitchell MP’s Amended Reply (misleading referred to as an “Amended Claim Form”).
There are now three “Operation Elveden” trials proceeding in the criminal courts.
First, there is “Sun Six” trial at the Kingston Crown Court. The Press Gazette had reports on this entitled, “Broadmoor site manager tells court staff knew Sutcliffe and Napper stories were being leaked to the Sun” (27 October), “Sun six trial told of allegation Sun reporter paid Thames Valley contact for name of cadet killed in glider crash” (29 October) and “Broadmoor inmates watching porn and killer on suicide watch among leaked stories” (31 October)
Second, there is the Old Bailey trial of Star on Sunday reporter Tom Savage, prison officer Scott Chapman and his former partner Lynn Gaffney. The Press Gazette had a report entitled “News of the World reporter tells court of ‘hair dryer treatment’ from ‘tyrant’ boss who instructed Venable story”.
Third, there is the HMRC Leak trial, also at the Old Bailey. This opened by the prosecution on 30 October 2014 and resuming on Tuesday 5 November.
There was a judgment last week in the “Lady Gaga” polo pony libel trial (Donovan v Gibbons  EWHC 3406 (QB)). This week it was announced that the case had settled with the defendant agreeing to pay costs and damages. There was a report of the settlement in Horse & Hound and on the Brett Wilson website.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court this week.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
Last Week in the Courts
On Monday 27 October 2014 Warby J heard an application in the case of Johnson v Steele.
On 29 October 2014 there was an application in the case of Jackson v Hampshire NHS Hospital.
On 30 October 2014, the Court of Appeal (Lewison, Macur and Sharp LJJ) handed down judgment in Reed Elsevier v Bewry. The claim was dismissed. There was a 5RB case note on this case.
As already mentioned, on 31 October 2014, Warby J handed down judgment following the PTR in Mitchell v News Group ( EWHC 3590 (QB))
There was also an assessment of damages in the case of Johnson v Steele. 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 McDonald v Australian Broadcasting Corporation ( NSWSC 1472) McCallum J struck out a small part of the defendant’s defence in a libel claim brought by a disgraced former Labor minister. There was a report about this decision in the Sydney Morning Herald.
In the case of Brown v Random House ( NSWSC 1505) McCallum J dismissed an attempt to strike out the pleaded imputations in case brought by a person who was mistakenly identified as a business associate of disgraced former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid in the bestselling anti-corruption expose He Who Must Be Obeid. There is a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
It is reported that Guyana’s Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nadlall has filed a $30 million libel claim against a local newspaper.
The judge has given Google permission to appeal against the decision in Yeung v Google Inc ( HKCFI 1404) granting permission to serve libel proceedings out of the jurisdiction. The decision on permission to appeal is at  HKCFI 1947).
The Justice Paulette Williams in the Supreme Court has ordered journalist Cliff Hughes to pay the former Prime Minister P J Patterson libel damages of Jam$12.5 million. There was a report in the Gleaner.
The Boston Herald has dropped its appeal and agreed to pay US$903,000 to end a libel case arising out of a 2009 story alleging that Joanna Marinova had enaged in sexual acts with a “killer con”
Research and Resources
- “Privacy, Democracy and Freedom of Expression”, Annabelle Lever, University of Geneva, SSRN
Next week in the courts
We are only aware of one application this week, in the case of Prince Alwaleed v Forbes Magazine on 5 November 2014. The background to the case can be found here.
The following reserved judgment in media law cases are outstanding:
Flood v Times Newspapers, heard 8 July 2014 (Sharp and Macur LJJ and Sir Timothy Lloyd).
Johnson v Steele, heard 29 October 2014 (Sir David Eady).