On 1 July 2015 the jury at the Central Criminal Court returned a verdict of not guilty at the trial of Neil Wallis, former deputy editor of the News of the World, on a charge of conspiracy to intercept mobile telephone voicemail messages. Mr Wallis had told the jury that he had no idea that his fellow News of the World executives were conspiring to hack phones.
As Martin Hickman reported on Byline, Mr Wallis made a statement outside court attacking what he said was a “politically driven campaign against the press”. He also gave an interview to the Press Gazette in which he attacked, among others, the Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. The most commented interview on Twitter was the one he gave to Channel 4.
The full membership of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee – now chaired by Jesse Norman – has been announced. The members are Paul Farrelly (Lab), Ian Lucas (Lab), Chris Matheson (Lab), Steve Rotheram (Lab), Nigel Adams (Con), Andrew Bingham (Con), Damian Collins (Con), Nigel Huddleston (Con), Jason McCartney (Con) and John Nicolson (SNP). As Mark Sweney pointed out in the Guardian, the members are all male and all white.
Mr Norman was quoted last week as saying that he would be “instinctively nervous” about any attempt to make communications regulator Ofcom pre-screen broadcasts for extremist content.
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal has sent a letter confirming and apologising for an ‘error’ in its ‘Determination of 22 June 2015′ – a ruling on the case taken by Liberty, Privacy International and others (notably including Amnesty International) admitting that it mistakenly suggested that the breach they had identified related to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights had in fact been in relation to Amnesty International. Paul Bernal has a blog post about this curious development.
Data Protection and Data Privacy
The ICO published its annual report [pdf] on 1 July 2015. There was a press release about the launch on the ICO website. At the launch the Commissioner, Christopher Graham, gave a staunch defence of the Freedom of Information Act.
The Panopticon blog has a post about the opinion of the Advocate-General in the case of Weltimmo s.r.o. v Nemzeti Adatvédelmi és Információszabadság Hatóság (Case 230/14) which deals with the territorial application of the Data Protection Directive. The opinion is not yet available in English.
The Hawktalk blog has a post entitled: Can the Information Commissioner assess relevance, retention and unlawful processing at GCHQ?
The Datonomy blog has a “Cyber Alert – Q2 2015” dated 1 July 2015.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
Newspapers, Journalism and regulation
Last Week in the Courts
On 29 June 2015 Nicol J handed down a judgment in the case of Lachaux v Independent Print and Ors.  EWHC 1847 (QB) dealing with a number of procedural issues.
On the same day Kenneth Parker J heard applications in the case of Decoulos v Axel Springer Schweiz AG.
On 30 June 2015 judgment was handed down by Sir David Eady in the cases of Ma v St George’s Healthcare Trust ( EWHC 1866 (QB)). The claim for libel was dismissed.
The appeal by the media against the reporting restriction orders in the R v Incedal was heard by the Court of Appeal on 30 June and 1 July 2015. It was adjourned until October 2015 to allow the prosecution to file further evidence.
On 1 July 2015 the UKSC handed down judgment in the case of Re application for Judicial Review by JR 38 ( UKSC 42) which dealt with the question as to whether Article 8 ECHR was engaged for a child aged 14 who was suspected of involvement in criminal rioting. We had a case note by Alex Bailin QC.
It is reported that that on 2 July 2015 in the case of Taylor v NGN Laing J refused the former world darts champion Phil Taylor an injunction to prevent the Sun publishing an interview with his estranged daughters.
On the same day the Divisional Court (Lord Thomas CJ and Nicola Davies J) heard an application to commit for contempt of court in the case of A-G v Conde Nast Publications. The background can be found here.
The trial of a preliminary issue as to meaning in the case of Rahman v ARY Network Ltd took place on 1 and 2 July 2015 before Haddon-Cave J. The trial is part heard and continues on Monday 6 July 2015.
On 3 July 2015 there was a CMC in the case of Yentob v MGN before Mann J.
13 July 2015, “800 years after the Magna Carta, do we have a Free Press?”, London Press Club.
Please let us know if there are any events you would like to be included on this list by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
The biggest media law news of the week was the decision of Federal Judge White J in the case of Hockey v Fairfax Media Limited ( FCA 652). We had a case note from the GLJ on this case and a comment by David Rolph. There was considerable discussion in the media including
- The Guardian “Joe Hockey wins $200,000 from Fairfax in ‘Treasurer for sale’ defamation case”.
- Sydney Morning Herald, “Treasurer Joe Hockey awarded $200,000 in defamation case against Fairfax Media”
- Guardian, Comment is Free ‘Victory’ has an exciting new meaning after Hockey’s Fairfax defamation win”.
The Law of Canada Privacy Blog has a post entitled “Can employers search employee’s emails to see if they are part of a biker gang? Arbitrator rules that emails between spouses sent on a work computer are inadmissible as evidence”.
The chief minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo has been awarded damages of £30,000 gagainst the Spanish anti-corruption union Manos Limpias in a libel case.
The two libel cases proceeding in the High Court in Dublin, mentioned in last week’s post, both concluded this week.
First, a jury awarded former professional footballer David Speedie damages of €85,000 against the Sunday World newspaper.
Second, the libel case brought by former Catholic Archbishop Richard Burke against the broadcast RTÉ was settled with the reading of a statement in open court in which RTÉ accepted that it incorrectly stated that the plaintiff had declined to be interviewed. The broadcaster made it clear that it had not paid damages but had made a contribution towards costs. The Irish Sunday Times stated that a payment of €338,000 had been made and had a piece about the case.
The Court of Appeal has upheld a defence of qualitifed privilege raised by assemblyman Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi in a claim brought by former Terengganu Chief Minister Ahmad Said.
A former Air Namibia manager Alois Nyandoro has been awarded N$80,000 damages against the Namibian. The newspaper is reported to be considering an appeal.
An assessment of damages hearing has taken place in the libel action brought by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong against blogger Roy Ngerng. The Prime Minister’s lawyers asked the High Court for a “very high award of damages”. The plaintiff was in the witness box for seven hours.
Hanna Bouveng has been awarded $18 million damages against her former employer Benjamin Wey by a US federal jury. The jury awarded the plaintiff $2m in compensatory damages and $16 million in punitive damages for sexual harassment and defamation. There were reports in the Guardian, the Independent and the Daily Mail.
It is reported that a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge has ordered the rapper The Game to pay $200,627 in respect of a rant about the former nanny to his children on Instagram. Judge Mitchell Beckloff entered default judgment for the plaintiff Karen Monroe.
Next week in the courts
On Monday 6 July 2015 Haddon-Cave J will continue to hear the trial of the preliminary issue in the case of Rahman v ARY Network Ltd.
On 9 July 2015 there will be a further application in the case of Lachaux v Independent Print Ltd.
The following reserved judgment in media law cases are outstanding:
Pinard-Byrne v Linton, heard 22 April 2015 (Judicial Committee of the Privy Council).
Masters v Palmer, heard 5 May 2015 (HHJ Moloney QC).
Otuo v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, heard 14 May 2015 (HHJ Moloney QC).
Starr v Ward, heard 15-19 and 22 to 24 June 2015 (Nicol J)