On Thursday 18 January 2018 it was announced that phone hacking claims against the News of the World and the Sun which had been due to begin a 4 week trial had settled. The BBC reported that “TV stars settle ‘six figure’ hacking claims“.
There was a report in the Press Gazette. The settlements do not appear to have been reported in the newspapers owned by defendant and its associated companies, the Sun and The Times.
A number of commentators were critical of the settlement with former Labour leader Ed Miliband saying
“This last-minute deal is yet another case of the Murdochs going to extraordinary lengths to prevent detailed scrutiny of what really happened at their newspapers. It shows why we need the Leveson 2 [press] inquiry to get to the truth.”
Byline had a post entitled “The Sun – Murdochs Frustrate New Hacking Trial with 11th Hour Compo deals”. Zelo Street’s post was “Sun Hacking – Murdoch Chickens Out”.
Wigan Council has defended its decision to settle a libel claim brought by former councillor John Ellis by a payment of “tens of thousands of pounds” paid shortly before the case was due for trial in December 2017.
The Data Protection Bill [pdf] has now passed all its stages in the House of Lords and has now gone to the House of Commons.. The first reading was on 18 January 2018. Now that the Government had indicated that it intends to overturn the House of Lords “Leveson amendments” it seems that the issue will go to “ping pong“.
Internet and Social Media
The Center for Internet and Society has a series of posts extracted from the proceedings on the “Law Borders and Speech” conference including
The Socially Aware blog has a post entitled “Connected Devices Bring New Product Liability Challenges” concerning the internet of things.
The Social Media Law Bulletin has a post A Safer Internet in the UK – but what is the burden for technology companies? concerning proposed UK government measures aimed at addressing internet safety.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The director of a claims handling company has been convicted of a Data Protection Act offence for unlawfully obtaining the name and address of the owner of personalised number plates he was seeking to purchase. There was a post about the case on the Brett Wilson Media Law Blog.
A Kent man who posted sensitive police information on Twitter has admitted two offences under section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998.
The Hawktalk blog has a post dealing with data transfers from the EU to the UK and vice versa after Brexit, “New Year resolution: “I will collect details of transfers from the European Union into the UK and vice-versa”
Belgium has adopted a law reforming the Belgian Privacy Commission. This is the subject of a post on the Hunton & Williams Privacy and Information Security Law Blog.
Freedom of Information
The Panopticon Blog has a post about the case of Corderoy & Ahmed v IC, AGO, Cabinet Office  UKUT 495 (AAC) entitled “Security bodies and legal advice: some Upper Tribunal droning“.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
HM Courts and Tribunal service has launched a project to promote press access to the the courts. This will bring together representatives from HMCTS and across the media. The initiative was launched at a Society of Editors event on 19 January 2018.
The Press Gang blog reports that IPSO is now investigating a new complaint concerning the misleading and inaccurate Times article “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” (see our posts here and here).
The following has been published: Silk v Telegraph.co.uk – Complaint under clause 1 (accuracy), resolution statement.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
On 17 January 2018 there was unilateral statement in court before Sir David Eady in the case of Chambers v DCR. A copy of the full statement can be found here [pdf].
Last Week in the Courts
On 16 January 2018 Rose J heard an application in the case of Appleby v BBC – to transfer the case from the Business and Property Courts (formerly known as the Chancery Division) to the Media and Communications List. Judgment was reserved.
On 17 January 2018, Sir David Eady handed down judgment in the case of Kennedy v National Trust for Scotland ( EWHC 3368 (QB)). The action was stayed on forum conveniens grounds.
As already mentioned, on 18 January 2018 it was announced that the claims in cases of Various Claimants v News Group Newspapers , which were due to be tried before Mann J, had settled.
On the same day Nicklin J heard an application in the cases of AXB v BXA.
On the same day there was a PTR in the cases of NT1 v Google and NT2 v Google before Nicklin J (who indicated, however, that Warby J was likely to be the trial judge). A judgment was given in relation to proposed reporting restriction orders ( EWHC 67 (QB)). There was a report on MailOnline.
19 February 2018, Personal Data as an Asset: Design and Incentive Alignments in a Personal Data Economy, 7.30pm, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR
26 February 2018, “Global Internet and Jurisdiction Conference,” Ottawa, 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
It is reported that a customer who complained that an eyebrow tattoo became badly infected in a Facebook post is now being sued for defamation by the business and the beautician
In the case of British Columbia (Attorney General) v. Brecknell (2018 BCCA 5) it was decided that the police could be granted a “production order” against Craiglslist on the basis that it had “virtual presence” in British Columbia. The is a post about the decision the Canadian Privacy Law Blog.
CBC News reports that a class action has been commenced against a website that collects obituaries from across Canada and posts them without permission of families.
The creator of the French equivalent of “MeToo”, Sandra Muller, is being sued for defamation by a man she accused of sexual harassment.
The Irish Times reports that Michael Colgan, who allegedly bullied and sexually harassed employees while he was director of the Gate Theatre, is to sue Village magazine for defamation.
The same newspaper reports on two defamation actions arising out of RTE’s reporting on the occupation of Dublin’s Apollo House.
Malta Today reports that Daphne Caruana Galizia heirs will assume responsibility for defending 37 libel actions brought against the assassinated journalist.
Former Nationalist Party general secretary Paul Borg Olivier has lost a libel claim brought against Maltese daily newspaper L-Orizzont.
The Nigerian Voice reports that High Chief Abiola Ogundokun has sued the Oluwo of Iwoland in Osun State, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi (Telu 1) for N1Billion (One Billion Naira) for defamation and character assassination.
The Sunday Herald has a column by Angela Haggerty entitled “The Scottish Law Commission’s draft defamation bill matters to all social media users”
The Columbia Journalism Review has a piece entitled “Can Trump change the nation’s libel laws? Common questions answered” – which concludes, in short, that there is nothing her can do. However, the Hollywood Reporter has a piece entitled “How Donald Trump Could Mess with Libel Laws” suggesting that there are things he could do to “make defamation claims more of a nuisance”.
Research and Resources
- European Court of Human Rights, Fact Sheet on Access to the Internet and freedom to receive and impart information [pdf]
- European Court of Human Rights, Fact Sheet on Legal Professional Privilege [pdf]
- Political micro-targeting: a Manchurian candidate or just a dark horse?, Balázs Bodó, Natali Helberger, Claes H. de Vreese, University of Amsterdam, Internet Policy Review, Vol 6, Issue 4
- A brief history of libel, Steven W May and Alan Bryson, OUP Blog.
- Crime Victims’ Protection Under the Free Speech Law in Japan, Jianhong Liu, Setsuo Miyazawa ed., Crime and Justice in Contemporary Japan, 2018, (Springer Series on Asian Criminology and Criminal Justice Research); ISBN 978-3-319-69359-0, Yuichiro Tsuji, University of Tsukuba.
- Privacy, Voyeurism, and Statutory Interpretation, Criminal Law Quarterly, Forthcoming, Michael Plaxton, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan.
- The Data Protection Commissioner and Facebook Ireland Limited and Maximillian Schrems, Affidavit of Peter Swire, Georgia Institute of Technology – Scheller College of Business
Next Week in the Courts
On 22 January 2018 there is an application in the case of ABC v Google Inc. We are not aware of any other media law hearings this week.
The following reserved judgment after a public hearing in a media law case is outstanding:
Appleby v BBC, heard 16 January 2018 (Rose J).