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Law and Media Round Up – 13 March 2017

The “Twitter Libel” case of Jack Monroe v Katie Hopkins continued to take the media law headlines this week.  Mr Justice Warby’s judgment on Friday, awarding damages of £24,000 to the claimant ([2017] EWHC 433 (QB)) was widely picked up on mainstream and social media.

We had a case comment about the decision.  The media stories included the following:

On the same day Warby J handed down judgment in Hourani v Thomson, [2017] EWHC 432 (QB)  In contrast to the previous case, this received very little publicity with no substantial national press stories and just a few local papers picking up the Press Association report.

On 10 March 2017, Nicol J granted what appears to be the first privacy injunction of 2017.  A public judgment will be available in due course but, at present, there is simply the Sun’s report of another “gagging order” to go on.  We had a post about this.

Follow Culture Secretary Karen Bradley’s decision that she was minded to’ refer the takeover of  Sky plc by 21st Century Fox to Ofcom there have been a large number of representations supporting such a reference.  In particular, on 8 March 2017 campaigning group 38 Degrees delivered a 300,000-strong petition to the Culture Secretary supporting a reference.  However, in a letter to the Minister the company rejected the minister’s concerns about media plurality and broadcasting standards, saying that she had based her view on “seriously flawed” evidence. However, it welcomed “a thorough” review and said it would work with regulators.

Internet and Social Media

The Social  Media Law Bulletin has a piece entitled “UK Government seeks to tackle the “fake news” problem

Jane Martinson in the Guardian has criticised Facebook’s stance on sexualised images of children, calling it ‘hypocritical.’

Socially Aware has a list of all the developments in Social Media this week.

Data Protection and Data Privacy

Panopticon has examined breach notifications and consent in the GDPR.

The same blog also notes the refusal of the Court of Appeal to grant permission to appeal in the case of Craven v Information Commissioner & DECC, permission to appeal.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has referred itself to the ICO after accidentally disclosing the identities of 90 victims of sexual abuse who had signed up via its website.

Out-law has called the ruling in the case ZXC v Bloomberg a reminder that journalistic defence can defeat data protection breach claims. Panopticon also had a post about the case.

The ICO has published the latest version of its paper on big data, AI and machine learning.

The Court of Justice of the European Union has considered whether the right to be forgotten should be applied to a company register.

The ICO has published draft Advice on the use of consent under the GDPR.

The ICO has issued one of its highest fines to the Hampshire firm behind 22 million nuisance calls.

Panopticon has examined the judgements in the cases of Ittihadieh v 5-11 Cheyne Gardens & Ors and Deer v Oxford University.


Wikileaks has released documents taken from the CIA’s Centre for Cyber Intelligence Agency that show that the CIA has a hacking division which has amassed ways to control smartphones worldwide and turn on the microphones in Samsung smart televisions.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

Press Gang blog has published a post entitled Private Eye: Shameless about Ian Hislop opposing the implementation of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act.

Zelo Street has published a post entitled Press State Regulation Hypocrisy, one entitled Daniel Morgan and Leveson 2 and another entitled Why Gilligan left the Telegraph.

Carolyn Pepper in the Press Gazette has called the law “little help for those who want to control the spread of fake news.”

Alex Spence at Buzzfeed has uncovered the fact that the Telegraph hired Sir David Eady, who they described as “the judge who stops us from knowing the truth,” to conduct a secret internal inquiry.


The Maccesfield Express has published a correction after a woman named Helen Gillespie complained to IPSO after they had used a quote that she had given a year earlier in an article.

The Daily Express has corrected an article claiming that 900 migrants carried out sex attacks in Frankfurt on New Year’s Eve.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

There were no statements in open court this week.

The Sun has apologised and agreed to pay libel damages to former TV presenter Justin Lee Collins after reporting that he was sacked from a radio station for making sexist comments.

Last week in the Courts

On 9 March 2017, the Court of Appeal (Chancellor, Gloster and Sharp LJJ) handed down judgment in the case of Otuo v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society [2017] EWCA Civ 136 (heard 8 November 2016 ).

On 10 March 2017, Warby J handed down judgment in the case of Hourani v Thomson, [2017] EWHC 432 (QB) (heard 1-3, 6-10 and 13 February 2017). The judge also issued a “Press Summary” [pdf].

As already mentioned on the same day Warby J handed down judgment in the case of Monroe v Hopkins [2017] EWHC 433 (QB) (heard 27 and 28 February and 1 March 2017)

We have also already mentioned the successful application for a privacy injunction in the case of AJS v News Group Newspapers heard by Nicol J on the same day.


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

4 April 2017, “The Commonwealth and Challenges to Media Freedom” conference at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies

28 April 2017, “Conference on Freedom of Expression Online,” Nicosia, Filoxenia Conference Centre, Cyprus

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


In the case of Minus v Harbour Radio Pty Ltd [2017] NSWSC 191 McCallum J considered an application to amend the Statement of Claim in a libel action.  She held that allegations of “bastardy and mongrel behaviour”, acting as “vandals” and being a Putin-like bully” could not be pleaded as defamatory imputations.

In the Lloyd Rayney defamation case a statement has been tendered to the Supreme Court revealing the level of antipathy between Rayney and his late wife’s family. Rayney has also described the public abuse he has continued to receive since his wife’s murder a decade ago.

Jason Bosland, Deputy Director of the Centre for Media and Communications Law at Melbourne Law School, has called for the introduction of a state-funded Open Justice Advocate as a measure to alleviate the continuing practice of judges issuing overly restrictive suppression orders.


Marathon runner Brad Firth continues to make the same comments about his sister’s death, despite a judgement which says that he defamed his brother-in-law.

It is reported that the president of the Surrey Creep Catchers, a group that claims to expose people they allege are child sexual predators, is being sued for defamation.  The claim comes shortly after B.C.’s privacy watchdog launched an investigation into Surrey Creep Catchers following a complaint from a member of the public.

The Canadian Privacy Law Blog has published a post about a recent Federal Court decision which examines privacy and the census.


A Syrian refugee whose selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel went viral has failed in a legal bid to force Facebook to find and remove defamatory posts about him.

Hong Kong

Outgoing Chief Executive of Hong Kong Leung Chun-Ying has filed a defamation claim against lawmaker Kenneth Leung over remarks about a HK$50 million payment that Chun-Ying received from an Australian engineering firm. Ejinsight argues that this case sets a ‘very bad precedent.’


A defamation claim where a woman and her mother claimed they were defamed when they bought a rocking horse for a child has been denied.

A solicitor and Revenue Sheriff has settled a claim for defamation against RTÉ and a plumber who allegedly referred to him on the late broadcaster Gerry Ryan’s Show as having seized goods from a wrong house.

Independent News & Media has said that Ireland’s libel laws threaten public interest reporting in a submission to a statutory review being conducted by the Department of Justice.

The Irish Times has reported that the Irish system is “unusually generous” with libel damages compared to other European countries.

Shane Phelan in the Irish Independent has said that Irish libel laws do not do enough to protect freedom of speech.

Ireland’s first ‘right to be forgotten’ case is now on appeal to the High Court.


The Appeals Court has found that an article in l-orizzont about Nationalist MP Tony Bezzina was libellous and the paper has been fined €300. Bezzina has said that he also expects an apology from the paper.

An appeals court has overturned a 2015 judgment which had ordered columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia to pay former Alleanza Nazzjonali Repubblikana spokesman Martin Degiorgio €2,400 in damages for describing him as a fascist. Galizia has also had 19 libel claims filed against her by the db group, who claim that she has attacked the group in several posts.

The government has scrapped a proposal which would require news websites to be registered with a media register.

New Zealand

In a comprehensive judgment in the case of Durie v Gardiner [2017] NZHC 377 Mallon J has considered a defence of “honest opinion”.  She refused to strike out the defence but required the defendant to serve an amended pleading.

Northern Ireland

The husband of DUP leader Arlene Foster has begun legal action to stop the publication of a book written by a former serving police officer.


Hull City head coach Marco Silva has won a defamation case against Sporting Portugal director Jose Eduardo after comments made in 2014.


A court has thrown out an attempt by Donald Trump’s company to block the release of significant evidence in a damages action for breach of privacy. Staff from the US president’s golf resort in Aberdeenshire secretly photographed a rambler, Rohan Beyts, without her consent.

Inverclyde businessman Sandy Easdale has won an online defamation case against Greenock community activist John Houston.

United States

Buzzfeed has asked a news agency to provide it with ten years of email correspondence to help it defend an $11m defamation action.

Slate has questioned whether Obama could file a libel claim against Donald Trump after comments the president made on Twitter accusing Obama of wiretapping his phone.

CBS is seeking to dismiss a defamation claim filed against it by Burke Ramsey, the brother of JonBenet Ramsey, after suggestions made in its series “The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey” that Burke was responsible for his sister’s death.

Lexology has examined the case of Brady v. Klentzman and how it illustrates the need to set a proper burden of proof in media defamation cases.

Is a state law banning sex offenders from social media unconstitutional? Based on their comments during oral arguments in Packingham v. North Carolina, some U.S. Supreme Court justices may think so.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On 14 March 2017 there will be an assessment of damages in the case of Harrath v Stand for Peace.  Details of the case can be found in the judgment of Warby J on 6 April 2016 [2016] EWHC 665 (QB).


The following reserved judgments in media law cases are outstanding:

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

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).

Stunt v Associated Newspapers, heard 1 and 2 March 2017 (Popplewell 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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