The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog

Law and Media Round Up – 24 October 2016

weekly-news-roundupThe ‘Fake Sheik’ Mazher Mahmood was sentenced this week for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.  The judge’s sentencing remarks have been made available. Mr Mahmood was jailed for 15 months.

The sentencing was reported in a number of national newspapers including The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, and the Sun.  It did not, however, make the pages of the newspaper which was employing him at the time of the offence, The Sun on Sunday.

A number of newspapers, including the Guardian, focussed on the potential civil claims arising out of the Fake Sheikh’s activities, with figures of up to £800 million being mentioned. Former London’s Burning star John Alford, whose life was devastated by a Fake Sheikh sting, has called for action against unscrupulous journalists to “cleanse this stain on our democracy once and for all”.

Campaign group Hacked Off have said that Mahmoud’s conviction ‘underscores the need for Leveson part 2 to start now,’ with the same point being made by the Zelo Street blog.

Roy Greenslade in the Guardian has questioned why News UK continued to employ Mahmood, “ignoring every warning sign about Mahmood’s dodgy form of investigative journalism”.

On 20 October 2016, the Court of Appeal gave judgment in the case of R v Norman [2016] Crim App 1564).  The judgment disclosed details of how the publishers of Trinity Mirror and News UK willingly handed over their public sector sources.

Philip Turvey, a genealogist who’s company has worked for family history programme Who Do You Think You Are, has won a defamation claim against Daniel Curran, a regular on BBC show Heir Hunters, after conceding that rival was maligned by a campaign to circulate false information.

Former police superintendent and libel litigant Gordon Anglesea was convicted of a number of offences of indecent assault.  We had a post about his conviction and his 1994 libel action against four national media organisations.

Social Media

Google has quietly changed its privacy policy. Previously it kept advertising network Double Click’s massive database of web-browsing records separate by default from the names and other personally identifiable information Google has collected from Gmail and its other login accounts. However, from this summer Google’s privacy policy has said that browsing habits “may be” combined with what the company learns from the use Gmail and other tools.

Amnesty International has graded 11 of the most popular messaging apps in its Message Privacy Ranking, in which Snapchat and Skype received some of the lowest scores.

Data Protection and Data Privacy

Datonomy has looked at some key questions regarding the ICO’s new code of practice on privacy notices, which it published earlier this month.

The Common Thread Network’s website has been launched. The Common Thread Network is is a forum for data protection and privacy authorities of Commonwealth countries, established in 2014.

Panopticon has examined at the question of whether anonymous information can be personal data, and how to test this.

Privacy and information security law blog has published the results from the Fablab workshop on the GDPR from the Article 29 Working Party (the “Working Party”).

The Open Rights Group has examined whether there are any powers to protect user privacy after The Digital Economy Bill has mandated that pornographic websites must verify the age of their customers.

Surveillance and Information Gathering

A new research network has been established to investigate the legal, ethical, social and technical issues which arise from the use of wearable, non-removable tagging and tracking devices.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled in a judgement published online that the UK’s security services, including GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 have been unlawfully collecting and using mass datasets of personal information for more than 10 years. The ruling said some data collection did not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

The Daily Mail launched an extraordinary attack on Max Mosley under the classic title “The disturbing links between an anti-Semitic sect, an S&M orgy and a sinister bid to muzzle the press”.  The links in question were tenuous, to say the least.  As one of the comments underneath the online version says

“The DM is really, really really worried about Max Mosely isn’t it. Could it be his calls for an independent press regulator as causing the DM some worries ?”

IPSO Complaints

A US Televangelist’s complaint that a Mirror reporter used parody quotes in an article on the Orlando shooting is upheld by IPSO on grounds of inaccuracy.

IPSO has rejected a complaint from Channel 4 News presenter Fatima Manji over a Sun column which questioned whether it was right for her to wear the hijab on screen. The column was headlined: “KELVIN MACKENZIE: why did Channel 4 have a presenter in a hijab fronting coverage of Muslim terror in Nice”. The decision was widely criticised however Roy Greenslade in the Guardian said that IPSO was correct in their judgement, because ‘freedom of expression means freedom to offend.’ We had a post from Alexander Brown criticising this decision.

Last week in the Courts

On 17 October 2016, there was an assessment of damages in the case of Undre & anr v The London Borough of Harrow, before Sir David Eady.  Judgment was reserved.

On 19 October 2016, the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of R (Ingenious Media) v HMRC ([2016] UKSC 54). We had a case comment from Dan Tench, there were also posts on the Panopticon Blog, the Scandalous! Blog and in the Press Gazette.

On the same day Warby J handed down judgment in the case of Bode v Mundell ([2016] EWHC 2533 (QB)).  He struck out libel and slander claims against Bath astrophysics professor Carole Mundell brought by a former colleague holding that there was no serious harm.  This decision attracted comments in the Daily Mail and the Bath Chronicle.

On 20 October 2016, Warby J handed down judgment in Lokhova v Longmuir ([2016] EWHC 2579 (QB)), a case which was heard 10 October 2016.  The defendant was refused permission to amend to add new allegations of libel.

On 20 and 21 October 2016 there was an application in the case of Stunt v Associated Newspapers before Nicol J.  Judgment was reserved.


9 November 2016, Information Law and Policy Centre’s annual workshop and lecture. To register for the afternoon workshop this Eventbrite page. To register for the evening lecture this Eventbrite Page.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


In the case of Zoef v Nationwide News Pty Ltd ([2016] NSWCA 283) the New South Wales Court of Appeal overturned the first instance decision that the defendant had made a reasonable offer of amends.  Damages of Aus$150,000 were awarded.

In the case of Brett Smith v Ken Lucht ([2016] QCA 267) the Queensland Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by a solicitor who had been compared to “Dennis Denuto”.  The defence of “triviality” under section 33 of the Defamation Act 2005 (Qld) was upheld.

Michelle Bridges, a personal trainer and TV personality, could face a defamation claim after claiming that photographer Liam Mendes was ‘breaking the law’ by filming her.


Police in Quebec are suing CBC Radio-Canada for defamation for $2.3 million after they reported allegations of police sexually and physically abusing Aboriginal women in Val-d’Or, Quebec.


The Garda Commissioner has secured a “unique” order for a hearing behind closed doors of civil actions by two people alleging defamation in Sunday World articles related to the State’s Witness Protection Programme.


Of two defamation cases brought against Malta Today by Natalino Fenech, former Head of News at Public Broadcasting Services, one has been upheld and the other rejected.

Northern Ireland

A Northern Ireland law firm has resolved its legal action over a press report about the so-called Hooded Men. KRW Law sued The Sunday Times’ publishers following an article which referred to the legal representatives of a group of men allegedly interned and tortured 45 years ago. Mr Justice Stephens was told a confidential resolution had been reached between the parties.

United States

The woman who claimed to be the victim of a brutal gang-rape portrayed in a now discredited Rolling Stone article will not testify in the defamation lawsuit facing the magazine. In the case the jury will decide if the magazine, its publisher Wenner Media, and author Sabrina Rubin Erdely defamed the name of former University of Virginia Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo.

A Maryland blogger sued by Melania Trump for defamation has asked a judge to dismiss the action, which he described as an attempt to curb his ability to speak out about the potential first lady.

The News and Observer, a newspaper from Raleigh, North Carolina, is to pay $7.5 million in damages for defaming a state government employee in 2010.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On 24 October 2016, Sir David Eady will hear an application in the case of Shakil-ur-Rahman v ARY Network Ltd & anr

On 25 October 2016, there will be an application in the case of Ezra Abumujor  v Lewisham London Borough Council.

On 27 October 2016, there will be an application in the case of Suresh v Samad and others.


The following reserved judgments in media law cases are outstanding:

CG v Facebook Ireland Limited, heard 4 and 5 April 2016 (Morgan LCJ, Gillen and Weatherup LJJ)(Northern Ireland Court of Appeal).

Begg v BBC, heard 27 to 30 June, 1 July 2016 (Haddon-Cave J)

Ur-Rahman v ARY Network Ltd, heard 10 October 2016 (Sir David Eady).

Undre & anr v The London Borough of Harrow, heard 17 October 2016 (Sir David Eady)

Stunt v Associated Newspapers Ltd, heard 20 and 21 October 2016 (Nicol J)

This post was compiled by Georgia Tomlinson who is a researcher.

1 Comment

  1. daveyone1

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

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