Tommy Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, could face prison again after being found in contempt of court for filming defendants in a criminal trial and broadcasting the footage on social media.
Dame Victoria Sharp, sitting at the Old Bailey with Mr Justice Warby, found Mr Yaxley-Lennon in contempt, by livestreaming the video from outside the public entrance to the court and by “aggressively confronting and filming” some of the defendants. “In our judgment, the respondent’s conduct in each of those respects amounted to a serious interference with the administration of justice,” she said.
Dame Victoria said the court will consider what penalty to impose for the contempt, with a provisional date of 11 July given, and full reasons for the decision to come next week. The news was widely covered by the national press, including the Press Gazette, The Guardian, the BBC.
On 1 July 2019 DJ Paul Gambaccini and Sir Cliff Richard launched a petition outside Parliament, calling for anonymity for sexual offence suspects. Currently, alleged victims of sexual offences receive lifelong anonymity under UK law but there is no law against naming a suspect. The petition will need 100,000 signature to be considered for a debate in Parliament. The news was widely covered by the national press, including the BBC, the Press Gazette and The Guardian. Opinion polls show a very large majority of the population support this position (see our post here).
The UK and Canada will be hosting the Global Conference for Media Freedom on the 10 to 11 July in London. The Government website had the agenda of the event.
Three judgments of Julian Knowles J in the case of Bull v Desporte are now available on Bailii:
- First a judgment on an appeal by the defendant from the Master concerning a requirement to provide a draft charge and a civil restraint order ( EWHC 1952 (QB)). The appeal was allowed.
- Second, an open judgment after the privacy trial ( EWHC 1650 (QB)). The claimant succeeded and was awarded general and aggravated damages of £12,500.
- Third, a judgment on the hand down dealing with the form of the injunction and costs ( EWHC 1669 (QB)).
Internet and Social Media
On 1 July 2019 Wikipedia co-founder, Dr Larry Sanger, called for a 2 day boycott of social media. The call to strike for up to 48 hours on the 4th and 5th of July was an attempt to pressure the networks into restoring control of personal data to users. There was an article on the BBC website.
The Competition and Markets Authority has launched an investigation into the dominance of Facebook and Google in the digital advertising market and is inviting submissions on the issue. In its statement of scope for the study, the CMA said: “We propose to examine the extent to which platforms’ market power might distort competition in digital advertising, as well as concerns around transparency and conflicts of interest in the intermediation of advertising”. The CMA is now calling for representations, including whether it should launch a full market investigation, to be made by 30 July. The Press Gazette had a piece.
The Council of Europe had a piece “New challenges of digitalisation discussed at the judicial seminar in Strasbourg”.
Open Knowledge Foundation Blog had a post “EU must work harder to tackle disinformation”.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The Press Gazette had a piece “News industry fears over draft child data protections ‘unfounded’, says Information Commissioner”.
The Guardian had an article “Boris Johnson team accused of breaching data protection laws”. Johnson’s rival, Jeremy Hunt, tweeted a picture of an unsolicited email received from the “Back Boris” campaign
Open Access Government had a piece “What are the data protection challenges of using AI in healthcare?”.
Forbes had an article “Apple Users Warned About iOS13 Security And Privacy Problem”.
Police Professional had a piece on the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), attacking the findings of a report it commissioned after independent researchers urged the force to stop testing facial recognition technology.
Academics from the University of Essex found that four out of five people identified as possible suspects were innocent. They were granted access to six live facial recognition (LFR) system trials by the MPS which took place in Soho, Romford and at the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, east London.
In total, the technology made only eight out of 42 matches correctly across six trials evaluated. However, MPS Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Ball said the force was “extremely disappointed with the negative and unbalanced tone” of the report, insisting the pilot had been successful. The news was widely covered by the national press, including the Independent, The Times and The Guardian.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
The Government website had a press release “UK steps up fight against fake news”.
IPSO has found that the Express website breached accuracy rules by wrongly reporting pro-Scottish independence and pro-union activists had “clashed” at a march earlier this year. IPSO received 225 complaints. There was a piece on the Press Gazette. The IPSO ruling can be found here: 04097-19 Various v express.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (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
We are not aware of any statements in open court, apologies or settlements in the past week.
Last Week in the Courts
On 2 July 2019 Soole J handed down judgment in Morgan v Times Newspapers Ltd, heard 13 May 2019 ( EWHC 1525 (QB)) There was an article about the case in the Law Society Gazette. There was also a piece on 5RB and a post on the Brett Wilson blog.
On 3 July 2019 the Court of Appeal (Irwin, Haddon-Cave LJJ and Sir Jack Beatson) handed down judgment in the case of R (on the application of Ngole) v The University of Sheffield  EWCA Civ 1127. The Court allowed an appeal in a case where a social work student had been disciplined for having made social media posts disapproving of homosexual acts in expression of his religious views.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Social media giants are pushing for more protection against the threat of costly lawsuits, claiming the need to vet online posts under current defamation laws is “onerous bearing on unmanageable”.
Media bosses from News Corp, the ABC and Nine met Attorney-General Christian Porter and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher on Wednesday to discuss the inquiry, which will likely be held by the powerful joint committee on intelligence and security. There was an article on The Sydney Morning Herald.
Google is facing a contempt of court charge for failing to remove defamatory reviews about a prominent Sydney businessman, in a landmark case about the legal responsibility of social media platforms. The Sydney Morning Herald had a piece.
Michael Jackson’s fans are suing for defamation the men who accused the singer of abusing them in the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland”. Unlike the UK and the US, French defamation laws extend libel beyond death. The BBC had a piece.
The Guardian reported “David Barclay loses libel case against obscure French playwright”.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi appeared before a court here on Saturday in connection with a defamation suit filed against him by BJP leader and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi. There was an article on the Financial Express.
The Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), has opened a third privacy investigation into Apple. The inquiry is examining whether Apple has complied with the relevant provisions of the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy law in relation to an access request from a customer. There was a piece in The Irish Times.
Carola Rackete, the captain of detained migrant rescue ship Sea-Watch 3, will sue Matteo Salvini for defamation after a tirade of insults from Italy’s far-right interior minister, her lawyer said Friday. France 24 had an article.
The Committee to Protect Journalists blog had a post “Press freedom summit urges Mexico to reform journalist protections”.
The Judge has reduced the damages in the Oberlin college libel case from $44m to $25m to comply with various limits laid down in Ohio law. An appeal court could reduce the damages even further.
Big Law Business had an article “Dershowitz Wins Unsealing of Epstein-Related Defamation Case”.
Research and Resources
- Protecting First Amendment Rights in the Fight Against Disinformation: Lessons Learned from FISA, Maryland Law Review, Forthcoming, Jill I. Goldenziel, Marine Corps University-Command and Staff College; University of Pennsylvania; Harvard University, Manal Cheema, University of Virginia – School of Law, Alumnus or Degree Candidate Author.
- Clinical Trial Data Transparency and GDPR Compliance: Implications for Data Sharing and Open Innovation, Science & Public Policy, Forthcoming, Timo Minssen, University of Copenhagen – Centre for Advanced Studies in Biomedical Innovation Law (CeBIL) – Faculty of Law, Rajam N., University of Copenhagen, Marcel Bogers, University of Copenhagen – Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO); University of California, Berkeley.
- How Much Is Data Privacy Worth? A Preliminary Investigation, Forthcoming, Journal of Consumer Policy, Angela G. Winegar, Harvard Kennedy School of Government; Harvard Business School, Cass R. Sunstein, Harvard Law School; Harvard University – Harvard Kennedy School (HKS).
- Satellite Imagery, Very High-Resolution and Processing-Intensive Image Analysis: Potential Risks Under the GDPR, Cristiana Santos, Lucien Rapp, ‘Satellite Imagery, Very High-Resolution and Processing-Intensive Image Analysis: Potential Risks Under the GDPR’ (2019) 44 Air and Space Law, Issue 3, pp. 275–295, Cristiana Santos, University of Toulouse.
- Self-driving Cars and Data Connectivity: Striking a Balance Between Privacy Protection and the Need for Interoperability, Marie Eline Bulten, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Students.
- The Threatened Erosion of Privacy in Healthcare and the Search for a ‘Cure’: Pursuing a Legal Framework for health Information Privacy in Health and Telemedicine, 90(4) Philippine Law Journal 768, Arvin Kristopher Razon, De La Salle University.
- Making Choices: Social Media Platforms and Freedom of Expression Norms, Forthcoming, Lee Bollinger and Agnes Callamard ed. ‘Regardless of Frontiers? Freedom of expression and information in the 21st century’ (Columbia University Press), Chinmayi Arun, Harvard University – Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.
- News or Weapons of Mind Destruction: Press in America from Colonies till Obama, Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, IISTE, Vol.5, No.20, 2015, ISSN 2224-5766, Awais H. Gillani, Wuhan University, Xiang Zhou.
- Fighting Terrorism Online: Censorship, Platforms and Freedom of Expression across the Atlantic, G. De Minico, O. Pollicino (eds), Internet, Freedom and Law in the Age of Terrorism (Routledge, Forthcoming), Giovanni De Gregorio, University of Milano-Bicocca.
Next Week in the Courts
On 9 July 2019, there will be a 3 day trial in the case of Boyo v Lloyds Bank Plc.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings in media law cases are outstanding:
Sadik v Sadik, heard 2 April 2019 (Julian Knowles J).
Various Claimants v MGN Ltd, heard 5-6 June 2019 (Mann 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