The horrific events in Paris dominated the news this week. The slaughter of the staff of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and the other killings by three criminal misfits produced wide ranging reflections on freedom of expression and responsibility.
In contrast to the newspapers in many European countries, the British press did not print the Charlie Hebdo cartoons which apparently provoked the criminal acts. As Roy Greenslade commented in the Observer, the British press was striving to balance freedom and responsibility.
Meanwhile today marks the start of the Hilary Legal Term in England and Wales. There are only a small number of media and legal cases listed for this term. We we have a round up shortly.
Back in the criminal courts, the jurors in the Sun Six trial have started deliberations. They are due to return 14 verdicts in the three month trial of six journalists accused of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
This month has seen the beginning of the ‘Sun Four’ trial at the Old Bailey. Four senior journalists, an army officer and his wife are charged in relation to alleged leaks of confidential information from the army in return for large cash payments. Michael Parroy QC, the lead prosecutor, told the court that the trial was “simply about greed”, with the defendants guilty of a “naked act of corruption”.
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) will hold a hearing shortly into the Sun’s complaint about the seizure of phone records by the Metropolitan Police. The Sun complained to the tribunal following the news that the Met had used powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to view the phone records of the paper and its political editor Tom Newton Dunn.
In December the husband of Cheryl Fernandez-Versini won privacy damages from Heat magazine. Business man Jean Bernard Fernandez-Versini won damages from Reveal magazine earlier in the year after it published a profile on him.
On 6 January 2015 parliament heard a call for Government to consider banning unpixelated pictures of children being published in newspapers without parental consent. The campaign has been set up by musician Paul Weller and his wife following the family’s privacy victory against the Mail Online in April 2014. We had a post about this and also a response from Angela Phillips.
Greetings card website Moonpig has shut down its mobile apps after the personal details of 3 million customers were exposed by a security bug.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has backed NGO Global Witness in its battle over protecting journalistic sources. There was an Inforrm post on this decision.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court last week.
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
The Press Recognition panel will be appearing before the House of Lords Communications Committee on 13 January 2015 to answer questions about the Committee’s inquiry “Press regulation – where are we now?” The meeting is open to the public and will take place on at 3.30pm in Victoria Portland House. The Panel has already given written evidence to the Committee.
IPSO published its first set of adjudications on complaints in December, including the first use of its power to direct the nature and placement of corrections. It ordered the Press & Journal to publish a correction on an article about the sale of plots in the Highlands “on page 3 or further forward”.
Of the five rulings released, three were not upheld and one was partially upheld. The ruling against the Edinburgh Evening News was upheld, although IPSO believed that the paper had corrected the error appropriately. The body also revealed that it has received nearly 3000 complaints since it started work in September 2014.
Last week in the Courts
There were no media and law hearings last week.
4 March 2015: “Oxford Media Convention, IPPR” Said Business School, University of Oxford
Know of any media law events happening later this year? Please let Inforrm know: email@example.com.
Media Law in Other jurisdictions
Google is facing a fine of up to €15m from the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) for privacy policies introduced in 2012. The DPA said that the way in which the firm collects data from its users is done without adequate user consent or clarity.
Reporter Takashi Uemura is seeking ¥16.5 million in damages in a libel suit against a major publisher and an academic. He claims they wrongly claimed he fabricated stories about “comfort women,” the thousands of women who were forced into Japan’s wartime brothels.
The Mayor of Mabalacat has filed a libel suit against a business woman who accused him of masterminding the killing of her daughter.
A libel suit has been filed against the son of rock promoter Barry Fey. Geoffrey Fey is accused of assaulting, threatening and libeling his ex-wife Erin Runyan and her boyfriend. Runyan is seeing damages exceeding $75,000 and injunctive relief.
The lawyers for “Jane Doe”, who is seeking to intervene in the claim concerning Jeffrey Epstein in the Florida Courts are suing lawyer Alan Dershowitz for libel. The action is based on an interview given by Mr. Dershowitz to CNN International in which he called the lawyers, Paul Cassell and Bradley Edwards “sleazy, unprofessional, unethical lawyers” who should have known that their client is “lying through her teeth.”
Next Week in the Courts
The only hearing that we are aware of is the application in the case of Mosley v Google, due to be heard on 14 and 15 January 2015. Google are applying to set aside the service of the proceedings outside the jurisdiction.
The following reserved judgment in media law cases are outstanding [these remain outstanding]:
R (Evans) v HM Attorney-General, heard 24 and 25 November 2014 (UK Supreme Court)
ADA v XAA, heard 28 November 2014 (Jay J)
Rufus v Elliott, heard 10 December 2014 (McCombe and Sharp LJJ and Mitting J)
Cruddas v Calvert heard, 9, 10 and 11 December 2014 (Jackson, Ryder and Christopher Clarke LJJ)
Ames & anr v The Spamhaus Project Ltd, heard 12 December 2014 (Warby J)
Otuo v The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Britain, heard 12 December 2014 (Sir David Eady)
This Round Up was compiled by Tessa Evans, a journalist and researcher. She tweets @tessadevans