Law and Media Round Up – 15 July 2019

15 07 2019

Confidential emails from the UK’s ambassador in Washington which criticised President Donald Trump were leaked. The Mail on Sunday published the leak in which the Trump administration had been labelled “inept”, insecure and incompetent, Sir Kim Darroch said that the White House was “uniquely dysfunctional” and “divided” under Donald Trump. The BBC had a piece.

On 13 July 2019 a second batch of leaked reports were published.  Scotland Yard said journalists who released further details of the ambassador’s communications could be in breach of the Officials Secrets.  The news was widely covered by the national press, including the Independent, the BBC and The Guardian.

Former employees who featured in the  BBC Panorama programme entitled “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” are set to sue Labour because they believed the party had defamed them in its response to their claims. The Guardian had a piece.

On the 10 and 11 July, London hosted the Global Conference for Media Freedom. The Council of Europe had a news report.

During the Conference, lawyer Amal Clooney and foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt criticised Donald Trump’s attacks on media, saying the US president has emboldened individuals who wish to persecute journalists. The Guardian had an article. The Government website had highlights from the event.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright also announced that the UK will set up a National Committee for the Safety of Journalists. The Government website had a press release.

On the 11 July, Tommy Robinson arrived at the Old Bailey for his sentencing wearing a t-shirt which read: “Convicted of journalism.” He was sentenced to nine months for contempt of court. The Society of Editors had a news post “Robinson’s “convicted of journalism” claim is a dangerous distortion of the truth.

Dame Victoria Sharp told Robinson that the time he previously spent behind bars for the contempt will be taken into account, reducing his custodial sentence to 19 weeks, of which he will serve half. The news was widely covered by the national press, including the Press Gazette, The Guardian, the BBC and 5RB.

The Press Gazette had a piece “Evening Standard and independent owner applies for judicial review against Saudi investments probe”.

Internet and Social Media

The Independent had a piece “ Hundreds of Android apps steal your data even if you deny permission, study reveals”.

Twitter has announced an update to its policy to address hateful language. The new policy will be tested with a ban on the dehumanization of religious groups. The Verge had a piece.

The Guardian had a piece “Google’s power is extraordinary’: businesses turn to the courts over bad reviews”.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

Inforrm had a post on BA’s record fine of £183m from the Information Commissioner’s Office for data breach.

Details of around 500,000 of its customers were stolen in a data breach in summer 2018. The fine was possible thanks to new rules introduced last year by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which gave the British regulator powers to impose much larger penalties on companies that fail to protect their customers’ data. The news was widely covered in the national press, including The Guardian, the Independent and Sky News. The ICO released a statement on its website.

Following an extensive investigation the ICO has issued a notice of its intention to fine Marriott International £99,200,396 for infringements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The proposed fine relates to a cyber incident which was notified to the ICO by Marriott in November 2018. A variety of personal data contained in approximately 339 million guest records globally were exposed by the incident. The ICO released a statement on its website.

Following the news of the fines of BA and Marriott under GDPR, The Guardian had a piece “GDPR fines: where will BA and Marriott’s £300m go?”.

Surveillance

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights held a hearing in the case of Big Brother Watch and Others v. the United Kingdom. The case concerned complaints by journalists, individuals and rights organisations about three different surveillance regimes: the bulk interception of communications; intelligence sharing with foreign governments; and the obtaining of communications data from communications service providers. The hearing can be watched on the European Court of Human Right’s website.

Amnesty International had a news piece “UK’s surveillance powers to be considered by Europe’s highest human rights court”.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

Russian state-funded news outlets RT and Sputnik have been denied press passes for the inaugural global media freedom conference held in London. The Foreign Office, which is organising the event alongside the Canadian Government, said they had not been granted media accreditation “because of their active role in spreading disinformation”. The Press Gazette had an article and Index on Censorship had a post.

The Press Gazette had a piece “Hull Daily Mail takes down front page cycling story after wrongly accusing bikers of flouting city centre ban”.

IPSO

IPSO has issued a news release referring to its “Response to Hacked Off’s ‘Unmasked’”, setting out regulatory action taken in relation to the complains outlined in the ‘Unmasked’ pamphlet, and correcting inaccuracies about its investigation standards.

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

04300-19 A woman v lincolnshirelive.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2018), 6 Children (2018), Resolved- IPSO mediation

02806-19 Luck v Metro.co.uk, 2 Privacy (2018), No breach- after investigation

00245-19 Hilco Capital Ltd v The Sunday Times, 1 Accuracy (2018), Resolved- IPSO mediation

04062-19 A woman v birminghammail.co.uk, 2 Privacy (2018), 1 Accuracy (2018), 3 Harassment (2018), 7 Children in sex cases (2018), 6 Children (2018), 11 Victims of sexual assault (2018), Resolved- IPSO mediation

04061-19 A woman v mirror.co.uk, 2 Privacy (2018), 1 Accuracy (2018), 3 Harassment (2018), 7 Children in sex cases (2018), 6 Children (2018), 11 Victims of sexual assault (2018), Resolved- IPSO mediation

04058-19 A woman v The Sun, 2 Privacy (2018), 1 Accuracy (2018), 3 Harassment (2018), 7 Children in sex cases (2018), 6 Children (2018), 11 Victims of sexual assault (2018), Resolved- IPSO mediation

01396-19 Newman v Daily Record, 1 Accuracy (2018), 3 Harassment (2018), No breach- after investigation

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

On 8 July 2019 there was a Statement in Open Court [pdf] in the case of Mills v News Group Newspapers. Heather Mills, animal rights activist and ex-wife of Beatles star Sir Paul McCartney, received an apology alongside her sister at the High Court after settling her phone hacking case against the News of the World. The Press Gazette and The Guardian had an article. Hacked off had a blog post.

Last Week in the Courts

As already mentioned, on 9 July 2019 Sharp P and Warby J handed down judgment in the case of HM Attorney-General v Yaxley-Lennon [2019] EWHC 1791 (QB).  The decision on penalty was handed down on 11 July 2019.

On 9, 10 and 11 July 2019 there was a trial in the case of Boyo v Lloyds Bank Plc before Anthony Metzer QC (Sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge).  Judgment was reserved.

On 11 July 2019 Master Cook handed down judgment in the case of Osagie v Serco Ltd and Ors [2019] EWHC 1803 (QB). The claim for slander, libel, malicious falsehood, negligence and under the Human Rights Act 1998 was struck out.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Australia

A ringside doctor who supervised a boxing match between Anthony Mundine and Danny Green has been awarded $385,000 in damages after a court found he was defamed by a column in the Sydney Morning Herald which argued the fight continued despite one boxer suffering “a bleeding brain”. The Sydney Morning Herald had an article.

Canada

An Ontario’s Court of Appeal has ruled that a noted veterans activist can proceed with his defamation suit against the former minister of veterans affairs. In its decision, the Court of Appeal ordered the $25,000 libel suit Sean Bruyea brought against Seamus O’Regan back to small claims court for trial. There was a piece on CP24.

India

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was on Friday granted bail by a court here after he pleaded not guilty in a criminal defamation suit filed by Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank. The New Indian Express had a piece.

Ireland

The Irish Times reported that the owners of the Swan Bar in Dublin have settled their High Court action alleging defamation in a newspaper article. The owners had sued The Irish Times Ltd over an article published in the Commercial Property section of the newspaper on September 7th, 2016, under the heading “Former Swan Bar at Aungier Street corner for €700,000”.

The Irish Times had a piece “Irish watchdog’s case against Facebook to be heard in Europe’s highest court”.

Germany

ZDNet had a piece entitled “Microsoft Office 365: Banned in German schools over privacy fears”.

Scotland

A pro-independence blogger lost his defamation case against former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and has been ordered to pay the defendant’s costs. Wings Over Scotland blogger Stuart Campbell took Dugdale to court in a £25,000 defamation action over an article she wrote for the Daily Record accusing him of making homophobic tweets. The BBC had an article.

United States

The Federal Trade Commission voted to approve a fine of roughly $5 billion against Facebook over Cambridge Analytica user-privacy violations that involved tens of millions of people. The FTC’s investigation was launched in March 2018 after the Observer revealed that the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica had improperly obtained the private information of more than 50m Facebook users. The news was widely covered in the international press, including The Guardian, the BBC, CBS News, The New York Times.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On 16 and 17 July 2019 the Court of Appeal (Sharp P, Vos C and Davis LJ) will hear the appeal against the judgment of Warby J in the case of Lloyd v Google LLC.  We had a post on the first instance decision.  The hearing will be live streamed.

On 16 July 2019, there will be a trial in the case of Yavuz v Tesco Stores Ltd & anr before Richard Spearman QC

Judgments

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)

Boyo v Lloyds Bank Plc, heard 9, 10 and 11 July 2019 (Anthony Metzer QC).

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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