The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog

Law and Media Round Up – 29 May 2017 [Updated]

The news this week was dominated by the senseless terrorist murders in Manchester on Monday. The blanket media coverage gave rise to a number of issues, some of which are discussed in a post by Des Freedman.

A woman has published anonymously on Twitter warning of the long term impact that intrusive journalism after terrorist attacks can have on victims. ‘DrEm_79‘ was caught up in a terrorist attack overseas five years ago and has warned journalists against intrusive questioning of Manchester bomb survivors.

Some Twitter and Facebook users have maliciously shared fake images of supposedly missing friends after the Manchester attack. Some people are apparently sharing the images specifically as a way of gaining retweets and shares, so that they can increase their reach.

Also in the wake of the Manchester attack, Nick Hopkins in the Guardian has examined the question of whether ‘tech firms are doing enough’ to counter terrorism.

One result of the Manchester attack is that Katie Hopkins will no longer be hosting a weekly radio show on LBC after she published a Tweet calling for a “final solution”.

The short “Easter Term” for court sittings ended on 26 May 2017.  The “Trinity Term” begins on Tuesday 6 June and runs until Monday 31 July 2017.  We will not be taking a “Whitsun break”.

Sir Cliff Richard has settled his privacy action against the South Yorkshire police. There was a Statement in Open Court [pdf] on 26 May 2017 before Mann J.   Before the statement was read the judge considered objections by the BBC to the statement and gave an ex tempore on the correct approach to be taken towards a non-settling co-defendant’s objections to the reading [Updated].  Sir Cliff’s action against the BBC is continuing and was the subject of a “source disclosure” judgment last week ([2017] EWHC 1291 (Ch)).  There was a 5RB news story about the case.

Internet and Social Media

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are facing tough new pan-European laws, forcing them to remove hate speech and sexually explicit videos or face steep fines.

Live Science has examined how the Net Neutrality debate affects people’s Internet.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

FieldFisher Privacy, Security and Information Law blog has published its ‘Top 10 steps to operationalise the GDPR.’

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, has posted a new blog entitled Interesting times, and how we navigate them.

A consultation has been launched in Austria on a Draft Data Protection Amendment Act to implement the GDPR.

Freedom of Information

The judgement in the case of  Department of Health v Information Commissioner & Lewis [2017] EWCA Civ 374) has been published.  There is a case note on the Panopticon Blog. The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of a Reuters journalist forcing the Government to release details of Andrew Lansley’s ministerial diary.


US technology companies, including Facebook and Amazon, have pressed Congress to make changes to a broad internet surveillance law, saying they were necessary to improve privacy protections and increase government transparency.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

Byline has published Part 7 of its ‘Byline Investigates the Sun’ series, which claims that Rebekah Brooks oversaw a front-page story knowing it was based on the hacked voicemails of a football manager and his girlfriend.

The Sun has said it has “the utmost contempt” for false claims it chose to run a front-page story attacking Jeremy Corbyn on the morning after the Manchester bombing.

A new study from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has found that European news consumers tend to trust TV and radio more than social media and the written press.


IPSO has published its third set of annual statements, covering 2016. They have also published a blog post entitled “What can we learn from the 2016 annual statements?“.

In the case of Versi v IPSO found that there had been no code breach.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

As already mentioned there was a Statement in Open Court [pdf] on 26 May 2017 before Mann J in the case of Richard v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire 

Recent Cases [Update]

We draw attention to three cases which have previously escaped our notice.

On 26 April 2017, Warby J gave judgment in the case of Hourani v Thomson (No.3) [2017] EWHC 1157 (QB) [pdf]. This followed his judgment in February 2017 [2017] EWHC 173 (QB).  He ordered disclosure of the identity of the defendant’s client on the basis that it was “necessary in the interests of justice” to do so.

On 19 May 2017, in the case of Dreyer v O’Sullivan, a psychiatrist was granted a without notice harassment injunction against an ex-patient who has been harassing him. A summary of the judgment is available on Lawtel [£]

On the same day Deputy Master Lloyd dismissed an application by the defendant for summary judgment in a privacy claim in the case of Ali v Channel 5.  The claim arises out of a broadcast of Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away! has been dismissed.  There was a news report on the 5RB website. [Updated]

Last week in the Courts

On 26 May 2017 Dingemans J gave judgment in the case of Anglia Research Services Ltd & Anor v Finders Genealogists Ltd & Anor ([2017] EWHC 1277 (QB)) making an order for pre-action disclosure in favour of Anglia Research Services. [Updated]

On 26 May 2017 Mann J handed down judgment in the case of Sir Cliff Richard OBE v. British Broadcasting Corporation [2017] EWHC 1291 (Ch)). He ordered the BBC to answer a question as to whether the source of its story was someone within Operation Yewtree.  There is a 5RB case note.

On the same day Jay J granted a harassment injunction to three judges in the case of Foskett v Kinsley.  There is a Press Association report of the hearing.  [Updated]


5 June 2017, “Responding to the WannaCry Attack: The Future of UK Cybersecurity Policymaking,” Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR

6 July 2017, “The Legal Challenges of Social Media,” Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR

26 February 2018, “Global Internet and Jurisdiction Conference,” Ottowa, Canada.

Please let us know if there are any media and law events which you would like us to list. 

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


On 26 May 2017 Rothman J gave judgment in the case of Cummings v Fairfax Digital [2017] NSWSC 657, tried in July 2016.  The plaintiff was successful in one claim and unsuccessful in the others.

On 24 May 2017 in the case of Mohareb v Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd (No 3) [2017] NSWSC 645) McCallum J refused leave to plead a claim against the State on the basis of vicarious liability for a statement of the Attorney-General which was republished in the media.

Rebel Wilson has given her testimony in her defamation case against Bauer media, after they published stories claiming that she lied about her  age, name and background. Wilson used the word “bogan” to describe herself, leading to an article in the Conversation about the nature and use of the word.

On 19 May 2017, the Federal Court gave leave to appeal in the case of Rana v Google Inc ([2017] FCA 542).

A German backpacker has settled a defamation claim against an author who he believed implied that he had killed his girlfriend in New South Wales in 2005.


In the case of Brisette v Cactus Club Cabaret 2016 BCSC 459 a claim for slander was summarily dismissed on the basis that there was a clear defence of qualified privilege.

Hong Kong

Legislator Junius Ho Kwan-yiu has filed a defamation claim against lawyer Kevin Yam after he wrote an opinion piece urging other lawyers not to vote for Ho in an upcoming leadership election of the Law Society.


A former Gaelic footballer has been awarded €310,000 in damages after he was “grossly defamed” in two Sunday World articles concerning swingers parties and the sex trade.

A former Coolmore Stud employee has lost his appeal over being refused injunctions preventing its lawyers writing to booksellers and distributors alleging his book about working there contained defamatory material.

A man is filing a defamation claim against Facebook after a post called him “Dundalk’s biggest drug dealer”.

Sean O’Driscoll in the Times has said that ‘a new law [is] needed to cut defamation awards’ in Ireland.


In the case of Actress Zahida Mohamed Rafik the Court of Appeal has ruled that repeating the words of a police report for publication does not constitute defamation.


MaltaToday has interviewed Chris Cardona, Economy Minister and deputy leader of the Labour Party, and spoke to him about his current libel case against Daphne Caruana Galizia.

New Zealand

Ex-leader of the Conservative Party Colin Craig has said in an email to his lawyer that he planned to expose Rachel MacGregor’s “performance failures” during a media storm in which he and his former press secretary would “both end up bloodied.”


All defamation claims filed under the revised Computer Crime Act are to be dismissed when its updated version comes into effect.

United States

A federal judge has turned down BuzzFeed’s request to move a libel case over its publication of a dossier containing unverified allegations against President Donald Trump to New York from Florida.

Virginia Roberts, the woman who claims she was an “underage sex slave” for financier Jeffrey Epstein, has settled her defamation claim against the woman she claims recruited her, Ghislaine Maxwell.

John Brennan, a man who stripped naked during a security check at Portland International Airport, has lost his First Amendment challenge to his $500 fine for interfering with screening personnel in the performance of their duties.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

There are no media law cases listed next week, as it is the legal vacation.


The following reserved judgments after public hearings in media law cases are outstanding:

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

Lachaux v Independent Print, heard 29 and 30 November and 1 December 2016 (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)

Guise v Shah, heard 2-3, 5, 8 and 11 May 2017 (Dingemans J)

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