The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog

Law and Media Round Up – 14 November 2016

weekly roundupThe biggest story in the world this week was of course the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. The reaction of the British press was one of profound shock. The director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has called Trump’s proposed policies ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’.

The President elect’s views on media law issues are controversial. Some of these threats to the media are said to include: weaker libel protections, less access to the president and reduced funding for public media.

The Daily Beast has pointed out that there are currently 75 lawsuits against Trump, including his ongoing legal battles over Trump University as well as libel cases.

The Hoot has questioned how polls got the US election so wrong, and whether Trump’s negative attitude to the media influenced this.

Prince Harry has confirmed he is dating US actress Meghan Markle and condemned the “wave of abuse and harassment” she has faced from the media. In his PR statement he has urged the UK media to “pause” and consider the impact coverage is having, saying “this is not a game this is her life.”As Roy Greenslade has pointed out in the Guardian, the press has denied any wrongdoing.

The Daily Mail has hit back at a Guardian editorial  which criticised the “disingenuous” tabloids for invading Prince Harry’s privacy. Meanwhile, UK papers have taken photos of Markle outside her house, doorstepped her mother and interviewed her estranged half sister.

The Operation Midland report by retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques has said that legal curbs are needed to stop journalists talking to witnesses and to prevent those under investigation by police being named in the media before arrest.

Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston says the club should not have started legal action against some fans. A date has been set for the trial, but the Blackpool Gazette is questioning whether it will go ahead.

Social Media

Socially Aware has reported on some of the social media stories of the week, including LinkedIn’s new Salary feature.

The Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has written a newspaper column outlining her concerns over Facebook’s plans to share data with WhatsApp.

Social media networks are beginning to obtain self-certification which may mislead people into thinking their data is safe even when handled by third parties, according to the Privacy Shield.

Data Protection and Data Privacy

The Panopticon blog notes a proposal from the Indpendent Commission on FOI to remove the right of appeal from the ICO to the First Tier Tribunal.

It has been suggested that Tesco could have faced fines of up to £1.9 billion under the GDPR for the data breach it recently suffered in relation to Tesco Bank.

The ICO has issued a fine of £30,000 to a will-writing company based in Somerset for making unsolicited marketing calls to people registered with the TPS (Telephone Preference Service) for over a year.

The German Data Protection Supervisory Authorities has announced that they have randomly chosen 500 companies in Germany to investigate their transfer of personal data outside the EU.

A French state watchdog has called for the suspension of a database that could end up holding the biometric details of 60 million people.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

There were no statements in open court read in the last week.  There was, however, an apology by The Times for an article which claimed leading scientists were paid by tobacco companies to carry out research into e-cigarettes.

We omitted a statement in open court the week before last – on 4 November 2016 before Dingemans J in the case of Suresh v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis.  We have not been able to locate a copy of this but will post it if it is sent to us.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

Lego has ended its relationship with the Daily Mail following a campaign called Stop Funding Hate to stop brands from buying ad space in tabloid newspapers. Gary Lineker and Lily Allen have applauded this decision. Lineker has also been commenting about the tabloid press on social media.

The Bad Press Awards are looking for nominations for their 2017 awards.  At present there are four categories: “Most Misleading Headline”, “Least Accurate Article”. “Most Incorrigble Columnist”, “Worst Sponsored Content”.

Roy Greenslade in the Guardian looks at how all newspaper publishers, big and small, are facing the same problem of declining newsprint advertising revenue.

The Media Reform Coalition and National Union of Journalists are hoping to make Google and Facebook fund public service reporting in Britain by paying a 1% levy on their operations.

A charity for whistleblowers, Public Concern at Work. has called for the protection of sources to be made a statutory right after 32 were convicted under Operation Elveden.

In the Press Gazette Max Mosley has said that his family’s charity has enough money to fund Royal Charter backed press regulator IMPRESS until 2026.

The Society of Editors is urging editors to make their readers respond to the government’s consultation on whether to implement Section 40 of the Leveson Inquiry, which relates to libel costs.

Last week in the Courts

 The trial in the case of Shakil-Ur-Rahman v Ary Network Ltd & Anor concluded before Sir David Eady on Monday 7 November 2016.  Judgment was reserved.

On the same day Sir David Eady handed down judgment in the case of David v Gabriel [2016] EWHC 2799 (QB)) -although, somewhat curiously, the judgment states it was handed down on 1 November 2016.  Summary judgment was given on a number of claims by a litigant in person.

On 8 November 2016, Sir David Eady handed down judgment in Denman v Associated Newspapers [2016] EWHC 2819 (QB)).  The libel claim was struck out on limitation grounds.

On the same day the Court of Appeal (Chancellor, Gloster and Sharp LJJ) heard the application and appeal in the case of Otuo v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Judgment was reserved 

There was also a PTR in the case of Fly Me Now Ltd v Quick Air Jet Ltd.

On the same day the oral renewal of the application for permission to appeal in the case of Weston v Bates was refused by Sharp LJ.

On 11 November 2016 there was an offer of amends compensation hearing in the case of Lisle-Mainwaring v Associated Newspapers before HHJ Parkes QC.  Judgment was reserved. 


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.

8 December 2016, Article 19 event: 250 years of freedom of information, Free Word Centre.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


Paul Farrell in the Guardian looks beyond the current discussions of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act at six other barriers to freedom of speech in Australia.

Former Federal Court judge Tony Whitlam has settled a defamation suit against the ABC over a Four Corners report about pedophile priest John Farrell.


A Cambodian court has ordered self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy to pay a fine and compensation of 25 million riel (6,250 US dollars) for defaming a senior official.


In one of the first tests of Ontario’s anti-SLAPP litigation, a Small Claims Court has refused to throw out a defamation lawsuit brought by the mayor of the Township of Oro-Medonte against an environmental activist.


The Department of Justice has launched a consultation on the statutory “age of digital consent” to be applied in Ireland as part of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Two sisters who sued Bus Éireann, an Irish bus provider, over being asked to get off a bus to Knock shrine in County Mayo have lost their High Court action for damages for defamation and loss of reputation.


The High Court has ordered National Media Group (NMG) to pay a judge Sh20 million in damages in a defamation case.


The Sessions Court has allowed an application by PAS (Islamic Party of Malaysia) President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to set aside a default judgment against him for blasphemy by a Christian Sabahan lawyer.

The Iris Corporation has released updates on the defamation lawsuit they have initiated.


A court has ordered MaltaToday to  to pay €3,000 in libel damages to the former permanent representative to the EU, Richard Cachia Caruana, over a 2009 opinion penned by MediaToday managing editor, Saviour Balzan.

United States

In a libel case against Maryland blogger Webster Tarpley, Melania Trump’s lawyers have said he held a ‘reckless disregard for the truth’ after posts claiming she was a ‘high end escort.’


Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has filed a $7 million defamation suit against Zimbabwe Newspapers and five of its journalists over stories implicating him in the alleged Chishawasha B stands saga.

Research and Resources

 Next Week in the Courts

 On 16 November 2016 there will be an application in the case of Optical Express v Associated Newspapers Ltd.  This is a defamation and malicious falsehood claim brought by the high-street optical healthcare provider, Optical Express, in respect of a Daily Mail article.


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).

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

Holyoake & Anor v Candy & Ors heard 4 November 2016 (Warby J).

Shakil-Ur-Rahman v Ary Network Ltd & Anor,  heard 31 October to 4 November and 7 November 2016 (Sir David Eady)

Otuo v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society 8 November 2016 (Chancellor, Gloster and Sharp LJJ).

Lisle-Mainwaring v Associated Newspapers 11 November 2016 (HHJ Parkes QC).

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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