The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog

Law and Media Round Up – 31 October 2016

Weekly-Roundup1On 25 October 2016, the Press Recognition Panel (“PRP”) approved IMPRESS as a regulator which satisfied the criteria set out in the Royal Charter on Self-Regulation of the Press. We had a post about this.

This development was welcomed by Hacked Off but attacked by the mainstream press who continue to fear independent and effective regulation.   Once again, “300 years of press freedom” is said to be at risk from Impress.

The News Media Association (NMA) said it would be dangerous for approval to be given to Impress by the Press Recognition Panel, because it would result in “an attack on free speech.

We published a post by Brian Cathcart about Roy Greenslade’s claims in the Guardian that the implantation of section 40 would mean that “press freedom was in danger.” There was also a post on the Zelo Street blog, “Greenslade Sells the Pass“.

Dominic Ponsford in the Press Gazette said that IMPRESS differs little from IPSO but that “the state should not force publishers into it.” We published a response to this from Steve Barnett, who called the difference between the two regulators “a chasm, not a cigarette paper”.

On 27 October 2016, the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction of Sun journalist Anthony France for assisting a police officer to commit the offence of misconduct in public office.  The Court held that the jury were not provided with legally adequate directions and so the conviction should be quashed ([2016] EWCA Crim 1588).

The quashing of the conviction was widely covered in the press including reports in the Guardian, the Press Gazette, the Mail and the Telegraph.   The Sun’s front page lead was “CPS you took a Helluva beating” and the paper demanded an apology.

As was pointed out by Hacked Off, the Sun failed to draw its readers’ attention to its own role in provide details of the journalistic sources on which the prosecution was based.  This role was exposed in last week’s judgment in R v Norman ([2016] EWCA Crim 1564) which was discussed on the Panopticon blog

Roy Greenslade in the Guardian said that the “wrong people were prosecuted over journalists’ payments to police,” and that the police should have been investigating Rupert Murdoch’s publishing business instead of France. Zelo Street also points out the hypocrisies of Trevor Kavanagh’s comment piece in the Sun.

On 28 October 2016 Haddon-Cave J handed down judgment in the case of Begg v BBC ([2016] EWHC 2688 (QB)) [pdf].  The claim was dismissed, the judge finding that the defence of “truth” was made out because Mr Begg was an extremist Islamic speaker who had promoted and encouraged religious violence.   There is a helpful “press summary” of the judgment.

The libel action against UKIP MEP Jane Collins libel over remarks she made about the Rotherham abuse scandal will now proceed after her attempt rely on European Parliamentary immunity failed. Collins, who represents Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, had claimed three MPs knew about child exploitation in the town but did nothing to intervene.

A group of scientists and public health experts are to take legal action against the Times newspaper after it reported claims from a leading charity that they were in the pay of the tobacco industry.

The Supreme Court is to hear an appeal by Mirror Group Newspapers on whether claimants in the phone-hacking case can claim success fees and after-the-event (ATE) insurance premiums. We had a post about this.

Social Media

The Information Law and Policy Centre blog examines Social Media and crime.

Social Media Law Bulletin looks at managing unauthorised third party access.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the consumer protection regulator, is stepping up to stop social media influencers promoting or reviewing products or services without disclosing compensation or other consideration that they’ve received for such endorsements.

Facebook says that users can’t stop it from using biometric data. Bloomberg Technology looks at a forthcoming legal action on the question as to whether Facebook’s facial-scanning technology is invading privacy rights.

 Data Protection and Data Privacy

WhatsApp and Yahoo have both received letters from the Article 29 Working Party warning the companies about possible violations of EU data protection rules.

Clause 77 of the Digital Economy Bill will establish a statutory Direct Marketing Code of Practice that has the same status as the Data Sharing Code of Practice.

Ellie Burns in the Computer Business Review looks at the security issues associated with Virtual Reality.

At a recent Parliamentary meeting to discuss the draft Digital Economy Bill, the UK Information Commissioner recommended imposing personal liability and accountability upon company directors, which would mark a radical departure from current law.

Lexology gives an update on the EU-US Privacy Shield.

Surveillance and Information Gathering

Ashley Gorski and Scarlet Kim in the Guardian look at a case which has gone to the European Court of Human Rights which challenges the British government’s mass surveillance of internet traffic transiting undersea fibre-optic cables, as well as the UK’s access to information gathered through the NSA’s breathtaking array of bulk spying programs.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

Two new studies have shown that the coverage of courts in local and national newspapers continues to fall.

IPSO Complaints

IPSO has ruled that an undercover investigation by The Sun into a man selling health care diplomas to students, which could be used to apply for degree courses, did not breach the Editors’ Code of Practice, as it was in the public interest.

A parent’s complaint that her children were photographed by a newspaper at a community event without her permission has also been rejected by IPSO, as they judged that North Norfolk News had been invited by a nursery to take pictures of its children in super hero costumes for a story in the paper and so had the necessary permission.

Last week in the Courts

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

On 25 October 2016, there was an application in the case of ABZ  v Lewisham London Borough Council,  before Warby J.  Summary judgment was granted An ex tempore judgment was given in respect of all but one of the claims.

On 27 October 2016, there was an application in the case of Suresh v Samad and others before Warby J,  Judgment was reserved and will be handed down today.

On the same day Sharp LJ refused the application for permission to appeal in the case of Theedom v Nourish Training. 

On 27 October 2016 Gloster, Sharp and Lindblom LJJ heard an appeal in the case of Mionis v Democratic Press.  Judgment was reserved.

We have already mentioned the judgment in the case of Begg v BBC ([2016] EWHC 2688 (QB)) [pdf] handed down on 28 October 2016.


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.

1 December 2016, Event: Internet & Social Media Law 2016, Grange Tower Bridge Hotel, London. This conference brings you the latest updates and developments in light of such things as the Digital Single Market, the Investigatory Powers Bill, and the legal implications of Brexit


Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


Ziggy Mosslmani, a Sydney man who sued for defamation after being ridiculed online because of his mullet, has suffered a setback in his case as District Court judge Judith Gibson struck out the teenager’s imputations of ridicule and asked him to file an amended statement of claim ([2016] NSWDC 264).


Three government officials have to pay defamation damages of $5,000 to Chief Pharmacist, Sharon Anderson after comments they made about her.


Former war correspondent Arthur Kent is seeking $1.2 billion in legal bills from Postmedia after their eight year legal battle ended this year when a Calgary judge found that Canada’s largest newspaper chain, and its columnist Don Martin, had defamed Kent in a 2008 article.


Ghana FA President Kwesi Nyantakyi has launched a $2m libel suit against a Ghanaian broadcast company that he says described him as the ‘head of a mafia.’ Nyantakyi is suing Multimedia Broadcasting Limited (MBL) and two of its journalists, Patrick Osei Agyeman and Kofi Asare Brako for $2 million. The owner of Asempa FM Kwesi Twum has asked him to withdraw the lawsuit.


In the case of Gilchrist v Sunday Newspapers ([2016] IECA 296) the Court of Appeal granted an application by the police that defamation proceedings be held in camera.  The proceedings are brought by private individuals but are connected to a previous case involving a protected witness. The case has been described as “unusual, even unique” and is a departure for Irish Courts.

TJ McIntyre, a lecturer in the UCD Sutherland School of Law, has published an article in the Irish Independent entitled “Irish law needs urgent update for digital age to give worldwide users protection over data”.


Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, a founder and leading figure of the People’s Justice Party, has been ordered by the Malaysian Court of Appeal to pay RM100,000 costs after he lost his appeal on a defamation lawsuit against Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.


Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced he will file a damages suit of Rs 26.5 billion against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, after allegations of corruption have been levelled against him.

United States

A jury has awarded former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary $7.3 million in damages, finding that the university defamed him after it became public that his testimony helped prosecutors charge former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky with child molestation.

A North Carolina jury has awarded nearly $6 million in libel verdicts against local paper The Raleigh News & Observer and one of its reporters.

Kim Kardashian has dropped a defamation lawsuit against celebrity gossip site after it retracted claims that she had staged an armed robbery in Paris.

A California Court has found that violations of privacy law constitute “Concrete Injury”.

The woman identified as “Jackie” in a now discredited Rolling Stone article about sexual assault at the University of Virginia said that she felt pressured to participate in the story and became scared in the weeks leading up its publication when she realised it may be too late to back out. Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner apologised in a recorded testimony to the former University of Virginia dean who is suing the magazine for defamation but said he disagreed with the decision to retract the campus rape story

Reality TV stars James and Amber Marchese are suing Virgin America and a flight attendant for defamation, saying they concocted claims of domestic abuse got them booted from a plane.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On 31 October 2016, Warby J will hand down judgment in the case of Suresh v Samad

The trial in the case of Shakil-Ur-Rahman v Ary Network Ltd & Anor will begin on 1 November 2016 and is listed for 7 to 10 days.

On Friday 4 November 2016 there will be an application in the case of Holyoake & Anor v Candy & Ors


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).

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)

Mionis v Democratic Press heard 27 October 2016 (Gloster, Sharp and Lindblom LJJ)

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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