The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog

Law and Media Round Up – 20 February 2017

weekly-news-roundupIn a rare radio interview this week the President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, said that politicians were too slow to defend judges after November’s Brexit case. He said said that the attack on the judiciary was “undermining the rule of law” and that politicians “could have been quicker and clearer” in their defence. These attacks included a Daily Mail front page which described three high court judges as “enemies of the people.”

The Law Commission’s consultation paper entitled “Protection of Official Data” [pdf] led to a media storm, with a number of newspapers announcing that the proposals would mean the end of journalism as we know it – with journalist and whistleblowers being thrown into prison (from the Guardian to the Daily Mail).  Sir Henry Brooke had a characteristically measured response on his blog pointing out the various “myths” repeated by the press. We also had a post about this issue suggesting that problems with the proposals should be pointed out in a measured response to the consultation.

The social media site has also said that it wants to “stamp out” examples of fake news on its news feed. Facebook’s head of news partnerships for Europe, Nick Wrenn, has said “I think the goal for us first of all is to eradicate as much as we can of the hugely fake news and a lot of it is done by spammers for profit.”  Alex Hern in the Guardian has annotated Mark Zuckerberg’s letter about the goals of Facebook.

Madeleine McCann’s parents are considering legal action after the appearance of a documentary on YouTube which was made to accompany ex-police chief Goncalo Amaral’s book claiming Kate and Gerry McCann were responsible for covering up Madeline’s death in 2007.

In the Hold the Front Page Law Column Jo Vale discusses the issue of copyright when taking photos and videos directly from social media sites.

Social Media

Social Media Law Bulletin has explored the risks of unlawful social media content and ways in which businesses can tackle this unlawful content.  It has also examined how Tort claims are adapting to the world of social media.

Socially Aware blog has looked at the recent decision in the Hague regarding WhatsApp, and how this could create concerns for mobile app developers. The Hague court ruled that WhatsApp is subject to Dutch privacy laws despite not having any establishments or presence in the EU.

On the Hoot website Jeff Joseph Paul Kadicheeni has called Twitter’s latest crackdown on abuse a “damp squib.”

Data Protection and Data Privacy

On 16 February 2017, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in the case of Dawson-Damer & Ors v Taylor Wessing LLP [2017] EWCA Civ 74) concerning subject access requests under section 7 of the DPA.  There were case comments on the Panopticon blog and the One Brick Court website.

Facebook has said that a legal challenge against the way it transfers EU user data to the United States was “deeply flawed” and should not be referred to the EU’s top court because ample privacy protections were already in place.

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has published its Priorities for 2017.

Businesses that fall victim to hacking can provide credit monitoring services to mitigate the effect of those attacks on customers.

Organisations face stiffer obligations on the security measures they must put in place to prevent their systems and data being compromised as well as new duties to disclose major incidents or breaches they experience.

Surveillance and Information Gathering

Germany’s Federal Network Agency, or Bundesnetzagentur, has banned Genesis Toys’ Cayla doll as an illegal surveillance device.

London Internet Exchange (LINX) faces a growing backlash over changes to its rules that would gag its directors applying secret government orders to monitor networks, under Britain’s Investigatory Powers Act.

Arstechnica has reviewed Jennifer Stisa Granick’s book “American Spies: How we got to age of mass surveillance without even trying.”

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

The Press Gazette has published the UK national newspaper print circulations for January ABC.

Zelo Street has published a blog post entitled “Sun Stoke Muslim Bashing Is FAKE NEWS.”

The Transparency Project has made a complaint on accuracy grounds to IPSO about a Daily Telegraph article entitled “mother who let her two boys sleep in her bed has them taken away by judge.”


The Sun online has agreed to publish a correction after claiming staff at Donald Trump’s golf course in Scotland deliberately cut the water supply of an elderly neighbour in order to drive her out. The IPSO ruling found the article to be inaccurate.

IPSO chairman Sir Alan Moses has said unpicking legislation brought in after part one of the Leveson Inquiry, including the Section 40 cost provision amendments, could take up to 15 years.

Statements in Open Court

On 14 February 2017 there was a statement in open court in the case of Taylor v Northamptonshire County Council.  The statement is set out in a news item on the 5RB website.

Last week in the Courts

The trial in the case of Hourani v Thomson concluded on 13 February 2017.  Judgment was reserved.

On 15 February 2017 Warby J heard an application in the case of Flymenow Ltd v Quick Air Jet Charter GmbH.

On 15 February 2017, Sir Michael Tugendhat handed down judgment in the case of Bains v Moore [2017] EWHC 242 (QB).  There was a 5RB case comment.


8 March 2017, “The Bubble Reputation: Protecting, Inflating, Deflating and Preserving it”, Information Law and Policy Centre, IALS, 6pm to 8pm.

24 March 2017, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom conference on Media Freedom in Strasbourg, entitled: “Promoting dialogue between the ECtHR and the media freedom community

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


In Mahmoud v Australian Broadcasting Corporation [2017] NSWSC 85 McCallum J dismissed an application for an interlocutory defamation injunction arising out an article concerning vexatious litigation proceedings brought against the plaintiff.

In the case of Perera v Genworth Financial Mortgage Insurance Pty Ltd [2017] NSWCA 19 the Court of Appeal of New South Wales allowed the appeal of the plaintiff and permitted his claim in defamation to proceed.

In the case of Oscar Kazal v Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd [2017] NSWSC 44 McCallum J struck out a defence of contextual truth and particulars of mitigation.

Australia’s Yahoo7 has been fined $300,000 Australian for contempt of court after it published a report last summer that ended with the mistrial of a murder case. They published an articleabout the case of Mataio Aleluia, accused of murdering his girlfriend, Brittany Harvie, including information, such as a Facebook post, that the jury didn’t know about.

Businessman and former MP Clive Palmer has filed a defamation claim against Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash over allegedly defamatory comments they made about the demise of Queensland Nickel.

Queensland police will not examine the legality of a local council’s audio surveillance scheme, despite concerns the recordings could breach privacy laws and be inadmissible in court.


The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has affirmed the decision of the Supreme Court, which found that claim can both be rooted in privacy and defamation, but that this does not entitle the plaintiff to more damages.

Canada’s Federal Court has asserted jurisdiction over a foreign-based website that republished Canadian court and tribunal decisions from Canadian legal websites and allowed them to be indexed and rendered searchable on Google and other search engines.

Conrad Black has dropped a defamation claim against a Canadian investigative reporter.


A lorry driver has been awarded €225,000 by a High Court jury which found his reputation had been damaged by a Sunday World article concerning a fatal road collision.

The senior garda officer who investigated the 2006 allegation of sexual abuse against Sergeant Maurice McCabe has issued High Court defamation proceedings against RTE, The Sunday Times and the Irish Examiner.

There have been a number of pieces in the Irish press this week concerning the review of defamation legislation

  • The Irish Independent has published an editorial Ireland’s “archaic libel law lottery.”
  • The Irish Times has pointed out that the Irish system is “unusually generous with libel damages” when compared to other European countries.
  • The same paper has published an opinion piece by Patrick Smyth calling for reform to defamation laws in Ireland, describing them as “financially onerous, oppressive and unpredictable.”
  • In another Irish Times piece Hugh Linehan has called for reforms to the defamation act to extend defamation legislation to “new digital players,” saying they “must reflect importance of social media and special case of user comments.”
  • Colm Keena in the same paper has said that defamation in Ireland “threatens [the] survival of a quality press,” because of the high cost of cases.


The government has said that it plans to double the maximum penalty which a court may impose for libel to €20,000 while removing criminal libel and the imposition of garnishee orders freezing the bank accounts of journalists during libel cases. Malta Today has published a summary of Malta’s new Media And Defamation Act. The Nationalist Party deputy leader Mario de Marco has said that the draft media bill would restrict freedom of expression.

A yachting company has filed libel proceedings against the editor of an online business review over comments which were allegedly intended to tarnish its reputation and that of its chief executive officer.

Leader of the Opposition, Dr Simon Busuttil, has testified in libel proceedings he instituted against the Prime Minister and Lydia Abela over claims that he had been caught in a serious fraud case involving taxpayers’ money.

A crowd-funding website, as well as donations made in person, has managed to generate €69,500 for journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia after a warrant of seizure for maximum libel damages if Economy Minister Cardona libel case was accepted by the courts.


Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda has filed a defamation claim against Blantyre Newspapers Limited and some of its employees over stories its newspapers published in connection to the maizegate scandal.

New Zealand

A High Court judge has thrown out activist Penny Bright’s claims of defamation against Auckland Council’s chief executive Stephen Town.

South Africa

A defamation case brought by Port Elizabeth Mayor Athol Trollip against a former ANC councillo, Lawrence Troon, has been postponed in the Grahamstown High Court.


Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and his construction company ACS have lost a libel case against Spanish newspaper AS and Catalan economist Jose Maria Gay de Liebana.


A libel case against CNN stemming from the cable network’s investigation of children’s deaths at a Florida hospital will go forward, after an Atlanta federal judge found that the hospital’s former CEO has presented enough evidence at this early stage of the case to suggest that CNN “was acting recklessly with regard to the accuracy of its reporting.”

A woman from Asheville has won $500,000 in damages in a defamation case after a Facebook post that implied that she got drunk and caused the death of her child.

A federal judge in Massachusetts has dismissed a defamation claim against Bill Cosby by an actress who claimed he raped her, ruling that the comedian acted within his rights when he proclaimed himself innocent of the crime.

The Cyberlaw Clinic has filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

A judge has ruled that a defamation claim against CNN can proceed.  A former hospital CEO has claimed he was defamed after the network reported his hospital had a higher than average number of infant deaths.


Zimbabwe Newspapers is to defend a $9 million defamation claim filed against them by the Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Jonathan Mayo.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On 21 February 2017 there will be a hearing dealing with consequential relief following the judgment in Holyoake v Candy [2017]  EWHC 52 (QB).

On 23 February 2017, there will be an application in Candy v Holyoake.


The following reserved judgments in media law cases are outstanding:

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

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

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

Lachaux v Independent Print, heard 29 and 30 November and 1 December 2016 the Court of Appeal (Macfarlane, Davis and Sharp LJJ).

Lisle-Mainwaring v Associated Newspapers heard 12 December 2016 (HHJ Moloney QC).

Coulter v Sunday Newspapers, heard 19 December 2016 (Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland).

PNM v Times Newspapers, heard 17 and 18 January 2017 (UK Supreme Court)

Flood v Times Newspapers, Miller v Associated Newspapers and Frost v MGN , heard 24, 25 and 26 January 2017 (UK Supreme Court)

ZXC v Bloomberg LLP, heard 2 February 2017 (Garnham J).

Hourani v Thomson, heard 1-3, 6-10 and 13 February 2017 (Warby 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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