The legal term ended on Friday 31 July 2017 and over our summer break we will not be publishing regular “Law and Media Round Ups” again until the beginning of next term in October. We will, however, publish occasional “Summer Round Ups” drawing attention to some recent developments.
An article by Sun columnist and IPSO Board member Trevor Kavanagh referring to the “Muslim Problem” has produced a number of complaints to IPSO and a letter of complaint to the Sun editor from more than 100 MPs. Mr Kavanagh has used his column to defend himself. Zelo Street produced a characteristically hard hitting response. Richard Wilson argued that tabloid hate is damaging our society and
The Telegraph has apologised and paid £20,000 in damages to Haras Ahmed who had been wrongly accused of being an “Islamist activist” who was seeking to undermine the government’s Prevent anti-terrorism strategy. There was a report in the Press Gazette which pointed out that IPSO had previously dismissed a complaint in relation to the article.
The Sun has apologised and paid substantial damages to Sean O’Connor, a former BBC TV producer it falsely stated had been sacked for bullying.
Media and Law Judgments
A number of media law judgments have become available during the period of four weeks since the publication of our last weekly round up:
- Bailii has made available a defamation judgment by HHJ Moloney QC from 2 September 2016, LE v AI  EWHC 3797 (QB).
- On 27 July 2017, the same judge gave an ex tempore judgment in the case of Howell v South London Church Fund in which he made an order for early disclosure under CPR 31.6 of an email sent by the owner of a rented property to a holiday lettings website on which the tenant had advertised the property, allegedly contrary to a prohibition on subletting.
- The long awaited judgment in Mionis v Democratic Press SA & Ors  EWCA Civ 1194 was handed down on 31 July 2017. We had a case note.
- On 9 August 2017 the IPT handed down judgment on remedies in the case of Dias and others v Chief Constable of Cleveland [pdf]). Former police officers Mark Dias and Stephen Matthews were awarded £3,000 each in compensation after their phone records were illegally obtained by Cleveland Police to find the source of leaks to journalists. There was a news story in the Press Gazette.
- On 11 August 2017, Nicola Davies J handed down judgment in the libel case of Singh v Weayou  EWHC 2102 (QB). We had a case note on this decision by Tom Double.
It has been suggested by David Price QC that the judgment in Lachaux v Independent Print is likely to be handed down in late September or early October 2017.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
In the case of Chel v Fairfax Media Publications (No 7)  NSWSC 996 the plaintiff was awarded damages of Aus$100,000 over allegations that she allowed sex on stage at her nightclub and that she was a menace for failing to prevent drink spiking.
A number of the judge’s rulings in the Rebel Wilson trial have been published, Wilson v Bauer Media (Ruling No 6)  VSC 356
Following the decision of the ECtHR in Independent Newspapers v Ireland, the matter came back before the Supreme Court for reconsideration of the damages award of €900,000. The case settled 10 minutes before the Court was due to hand down judgment. The Supreme Court subsequently handed down a judgment (McDonagh v. Sunday Newspapers Ltd  IESC 59) indicating that the original award was excessive but not mentioning the specific figure which it would have substituted.
Eugene Volokh has a post on the recent decision of the US Court of Appeals of the 5th Circuit in the case of Block v Tanenhaus [pdf] which concerns libel by quotation out of context.
A Federal Judge ordered the author of a New York Times editorial suggesting that Sarah Palin had inspired mass shooter Jared Loughner to give evidence in order to enable him to assess “actual malice”. The editor of the paper’s editorial pages, James Bennett, gave evidence on 16 August 2017 and the Judge has invited further submissions.