Law and Media Round Up – 17 June 2019

17 06 2019

The most  important media law event of the week was the judgment of the Supreme Court in Lachaux v Independent Print ([2019] UKSC 27).  We had a news piece about the judgment and a case comment from Mathilde Groppo.

While upholding an earlier Court of Appeal ruling in favour of Lachaux, the Court overturned the Court of Appeal’s interpretation of the “serious harm” test in s.1(1) of the Defamation Act 2013, preferring the analysis of Warby J at first instance. The Court found that section 1 of the 2013 Act not only raises the threshold of seriousness from that in Jameel and Thornton, but requires its application to be determined by reference to the actual facts about its impact, not merely the meaning of the words [12].  The Press Gazette and the Law Society Gazette had pieces on the case.  The Sunday Times reported complaints that the ruling would “silence women”.

At a hearing in Birmingham on 10 June 2019 Warby J discharged the injunction to Birmingham City Council on 31 May 2019 but granted a further injunction to restrain protests at Anderton Park Primary School until the trial which is listed for 22 and 31 of July 2019.  We had a post about the original injunction.

On 13 June 2019 The Guardian and the Press Gazette reported that The Evening Standard and the Independent which could face a Government investigation after investors with “strong links to the Saudi Arabian state” bought substantial indirect stakes in the publications.  The investigation could look into whether the two newspapers can guarantee accurate reporting of the news and are able to retain independence in favour of freedom of speech regardless of the “significant level of material influence” enjoyed by the new shareholders.

On 14 June 2019 ASA has issued a change in the CAP code which will apply to broadcast and non-broadcast (including online and social media). This change was driven by a review of gender stereotypes in adverts and the potential harm they could cause.  We had a post about this.

Internet and Social Media

On 11 June 2019 Mary Meeker released the Internet Trends Report [pdf] at the Code Conference. Themes addressed in the 2019 report include encryption, online advertising, data and personalization, offensive content and the open internet. Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network has a short post on the report.

The Internet cases blog has a post on the case of Brittain v. Twitter (N.D. Cal. June 2019) where an Arizona senate candidate sued Twitter for having four of his accounts suspended. The court granted Twitter’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that Twitter is a provider of an interactive computer service and not a publisher.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

Data Protection News reports that the Swedish data protection authority has initiated an investigation of Spotify Technology S.A.’s responses to data subject access requests (SARs).

Government Europa has a piece entitled “ Data Protection Survey shows increase in Europeans aware of rights”.

The Eurobarometer report commissioned by the European Commission (EC) to mark the first anniversary of the GDPR, has shown a high level of awareness of the EU’s data protection rules amongst its residents. Europe Data Protection Digest also has a post on its website.

The Brett Wilson blog has a post on how GDPR can be a useful tool for an out of court battle against an invasion of privacy, as in the recent case brought by the Duke of Sussex.

Data Protection and privacy insight has a blog post by Stewart Room “Privacy stifles innovation and competitiveness? Not so!”

The Hawktalk blog has a piece entitled Judicial review: how did the Government decide that the immigration exemption was in “the general public interest”?

On 30 May 2019 the ICO published a report “GDPR: One year on” [pdf][.  There is a comment on this report on the Privacy Matters blog.

The ICO has fined Smart Home Protection Ltd £90,000 for making nuisance calls to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

Surveillance

Infosecurity Magazine reports on MI5’s breaches of the law in its handling and retention of bulk surveillance data.

The rights group Liberty is engaged in ongoing legal challenges to the IPA, and recently, a series of 10 documents and letters from MI5 and IPCO have revealed more details of those breaches. A comprehensive piece can be found on the Liberty’s news. Pieces covering the story can also be found on Data Matters and the BBC.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

The Press Gazette has an article regarding an Ofcom investigation on the program “Good Morning Britain” to ascertain whether the broadcaster broke the election rules in the wake of the European Parliament vote. According to Ofcom, the broadcasts did not include a full list of candidates for European elections in the South West.

Index on Censorship has a post “Project Exile: Turkish journalist lost home and family”, an interview with an exiled journalist.

The Guardian reports on the decision of the New York Times to drop all cartoons, syndicated and in-house from its international edition. “New York Times cartoon ban leads to a world where we say nothing at all

IPSO

IPSO has found that the Bristol Post journalist who logged into a university counselling portal to look into a story on student suicide rates, was acting in the public interest and the complaint was in part upheld. There was a piece in the Press Gazette. The IPSO ruling can be found here: 07959-18 UWE Bristol v Bristol Post, 1 Accuracy (2018), 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge (2018), Breach – sanction: action as offered by publication

IPSO has published a number of rulings and resolutions statements since our last Round Up:

Statements in Open Court, Apologies and Settlements.

The Mail and MailOnline have apologised and paid £120,000 in damages to the Interpal Trustees over false terror and extremism allegations.  There is a press release [pdf] from Carter Ruck about the case and a piece in the Press Gazette.

The Times and the Press Gazette have pieces about Koo Stark, Prince Andrew’s ex-girlfriend being awarded damages from the owner of MTV’s entertainment news website after it wrongly described her as a “porn star”.

Last Week in the Courts

On 11 June 2019 Warby J handed down judgment in the case of Advertising Standards Authority v Mitchell [2019] EWHC 1469 (QB)The judge granted an injunction to restrain the use of material sent, inadvertently, by email to the wrong recipient.  There was a news item about the case on the 5RB website  

On the same day Haddon-Cave LJ refused permission to appeal in the case of Burgon v NGN.  We had a post on the first instance decision in which damages of £30,000 were awarded to Richard Burgon MP against the Sun.  The decision refusing permission to appeal can be found here [pdf].

As already mentioned, on Wednesday 12 June 2019, the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of Lachaux v Independent Print (heard 13 and 14 November 2018) ([2019] UKSC 27).

On 13 June 2019 was a hearing before Norris J in the case of Winstone v MGN.

On 14 June 2019 Nicol J handed down judgment in the case of Tinkler v Ferguson [2019] EWHC 1529 (QB).  The application for permission to amend the Particulars of Claim was substantially dismissed.

On the same day Warby j heard applications in Advertising Standards Authority v Mitchell and in Stunt v Associated Newspapers and the case of Morgan v Times Newspapers was mentioned before Soole J.

Events

Please let us know if there are any events which we should be drawing to the attention of our readers.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Australia

The Sydney Morning Herald has a piece on freedom of the press “’Jesus, am I going to be next?’: Press freedom under attack

The Journlaw has a post on the need for a parliamentary enquiry over plans by the government to ban the press from reporting and attending trials of juvenile offenders with sanctions of up to a year imprisonment for the journalists.

India

The BBC website reports that India’s Supreme Court has ordered the release of a journalist who was arrested and jailed for tweeting about Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

Italy

Amanda Knox, twice acquitted of killing Meredith Kercher, returns to Italy to attend Criminal Justice Festival in Modena and a debate on ‘trial by media’.

The news is widely covered in the international media, including The Guardian, The New York Times and the CNN.

Scotland

Commonspace has a piece about Andy Wightman, Scottish Green MP, nearing his crowdfunding target to defend himself against a defamation claim for £750,000.

Trinidad and Tobago

5RB reports that on the 17 June 2019 the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council will hear an appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeal of Trinidad & Tobago in the Court will have to consider whether there is an exception to the general rule that the cause of action in defamation is complete on publication and, if so, in what circumstances that exception applies

Uganda

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists have raised the issue of the arrest of an editor for criminal libel and “offensive communication”.

United States

Amazon is being sued over Alexa’s alleged recordings of children. There was coverage of the story on the BBC.

The Hollywood Reporter has a piece “Making a Murderer brings call to abolish actual malice in libel suits”.

In the case of Gibson Bros. v Oberlin College in Ohio, a jury awarded $11 million in compensatory damages and an additional $22 million punitive damages in a landmark defamation case where a college was held accountable. The Independent and the  CNN have articles on the case.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts 

On 17 June 2019, there will be a PTR in the case of Fentiman v Marsh before HHJ Parkes QC. This is a libel claim arising out of a number of online publications.  The Claim Form and Particulars of Claim can be found on Lawtel [£]

On 20 June, there will be the hearing of the final day of the 16th CMC in the case of Various Claimants v MGN before Mann J.

Judgments

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

Bull v Desporte, heard 25 to 28 March 2019 (Julian Knowles J)

Sadik v Sadik, heard 2 April 2019 (Julian Knowles J).

Morgan v Times Newspapers Ltd, heard 13 May 2019 (Soole J).

Please let us know if there are any reserved judgments which should be added to this list.

This Round Up was compiled by Nataly Tedone, an LPC student with a particular interest in media law


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