Law and Media Round Up – 9 October 2017

9 10 2017

The steady stream of settlements in phone hacking and illegal information gathering cases has continued this week.  On Thursday 5 October 2017 we reported on statements in open court in the cases of Steve Coogan, Sienna Miller and Jamie Theakston.

On Friday 6 October 2017 there was a Statement in Open Court [pdf] in the case of Ian Hurst and News Group Newspapers Limited and others.  Mr Hurst was a former member of British Military intelligence.  In 2006 his computer and emails were hacked and information was passed to the News of the World.  The News of the World accepted liability for this and agreed to pay him substantial damages.

The settlement was reported by the Guardian, the BBC and in the Press GazetteHacked Off commented that the fact that this admission was made more than 6 years after the allegations were made was a clear indication that Leveson Part 2 should take place.

On 10 October 2017 Ofcom will appear before the DCMS Committee. It is expected the session will cover the Fox/Sky merger, BBC regulation, and the impact of Brexit.

Hold The Front Page has a post on the falling away of automatic anonymity accorded to the victims of sexual offences who are convicted of perjury.

Internet and Social Media

The German Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) – a federal law on better law enforcement in social networks – entered into force on 1 October 2017.  The purpose of the law is to ensure that social media platforms remove hate speech within 24 hours in simple cases or within 7 days if the case is more complex.  There is a report on TechCrunch. The OSCE has criticised the law as being too broad.  The OSCE Legal Report on the law can be found here.

The Austrian Social Democrats have asked Facebook to disclose the identities of those behind sites which they say are spreading libel in an attempt to clean up a smear campaign scandal ahead of an election on 15 October 2017.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

Robin Hopkins has done an overview of the Data Protection Bill for Practical Law.

The IPKat blog has a review of a new book by Maria Tzanou, The Fundamental Right to Data Protection which focus on surveillance and sets out the case for data protection as fundamental right.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

There were a number of statements in open court last week in the phone hacking litigation.  We had a post on the statements made in the MGN litigation and we have already dealt with the statement in open court [pdf[ in Hurst v NGN. 

Last Week in the Courts

On 5 October 2017 the Court of Appeal (Gross, Simon and Peter Jackson LJJ) heard the appeal in Bukovsky v CPS. Judgment was reserved.

On 6 October 2017 Whipple J handed down judgment in the case of Al-KO Kober Ltd & Anor v Balvinder Sambhi (t/a Torquebars) [2017] EWHC 2474 (QB).  The judge granted an interim injunction malicious falsehood and an order under the Data Protection Act 1998 in respect of videos on the defendant’s YouTube channel.

The Court of Appeal has refused permission to appeal in Lachaux v Independent.  This application will, presumably, now be renewed to the Supreme Court.

Events

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

 Australia

On 4 October 2017 the Full Court of South Australia (equivalent to the Court of Appeal) had down judgment in the case of Google Inc v Duffy ([2017] SASFC 130 [pdf]).  We had a post about the decision.

In the case of Plymouth Brethren (Exclusive Brethren) Christian Church v Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd; Plymouth Brethren (Exclusive Brethren) Christian Church v The Age Company Pty Ltd [2017] NSWSC 214 McCallum J dismissed a claim for defamation on the basis that the words complained of were not capable of identifying the plaintiffs.

In the case of Oueik v Foley [2017] NSWSC 1324 Rothman J dismissed a libel claim by a former political candidate against his opponent.  A claim against the Seven Network was allowed to proceed.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that A Canberra public servant and “yes” advocate is taking legal action against the official “no” campaign vehicle, the Coalition for Marriage, alleging it defamed her by depicting her as an “extremist”.

Canada

A new “shield law”, the Journalistic Source Protection Act, has been passed to protect journalists and their sources from search warrants and police surveillance. This new law was welcomed by the OSCE.  There is a report on Vice News Canada.

On October 5, 2017, the Nova Scotia Liberal government introduced a new bill to replace the former Cyber-safety Act, which was struck down as unconstitutional (a “colossal failure”, said the judge). The Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act is the result of a serious re-think of all the defects found in the Cyber-safety Act. There is a report on the Canadian Privacy Law Blog.

France

The President of Gambia, Ali Bongo, has succeeded in a libel action against a French journalist who wrote a book insinuating that he was behind two attempts to assassinate a close aide to his father, the former President.  The journalist was fined €1,000 and ordered to pay symbolic damages of €1.  Other parts of the action were dismissed.

Ireland

The High Court has decided that Channel 4 is entitled to claim journalistic privilege over sources for a TV programme which Ryanair says is defamatory.

The High Court has also ruled that a rape victim can sue the State over disclosure of her address to her attacker.

The Irish Times reports that the High Court has referred to the CJEU questions as to the validity of the EU Commission’s decisions on standard contractual clauses in the context of Facebook’s EU-US data transfer action.

Malta

The Times of Malta reports that a voice coach, Gillian Camenzuli Kerr, has been awarded damages of €500 over defamatory comments made in the course of a conversation between two Facebook users via Messenger.

New Zealand

In the case of Sellman v Slater [2017] NZHC 2392, the blogger Cameron Slater (Whale Oil), public relations man Carrick Graham and former MP Katherine Rich failed in an application to strike out a libel claim by three health experts.  There is a Newsroom report and one in the Otago Daily Times.

United States

Three Russians named in the Trump dossier are suing the private investigation firm Fusion GPS for libel over the handling of the dossier.

The Washington Post has a piece about Harvey Weinstein’s threatened libel action against the New York Times pointing out the difficulties that such an action would face.

Blog Law Online has a post entitled “Charlottesville, the First Amendment and the Press” concerning tolerance for hate speech.

Research and Resources

 Next Week in the Courts

 We are not aware of any media law cases being heard by the Courts this coming week.

 Judgments

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

R (News Media Association) v Press Recognition Panel. 29 and 30 June 2017 (Rafferty LJ and Popplewell J).

Washington-Carty v Fisher, heard 14 July 2017 (HHJ Moloney QC)

David v Hosany,  heard 20, 21 and 24 July 2017 (HHJ Moloney QC)

Bukovsky v CPS, heard 5 October 2017 (Gross, Simon and Peter Jackson LJJ)


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