Law and Media Round Up – 29 July 2019

29 07 2019

The Trinity Term (and hence the legal year) ends on 31 July 2019.  The summer legal vacation will last until 1 October 2019 when the Michaelmas Term begins.  This will be the last weekly round up until October although we will continue to publish occasional “summer round ups”.

Carl Beech, who tarnished the reputations of the high-profile men he falsely accused of being murderers and paedophiles in lies told to journalists and then the police has been jailed for 18 years. The Press Gazette had a piece.  The website, Exaro, and its editor in chief Mark Watts have come in for particular criticism over the affair.  The sentencing remarks of Goss J can be found here.

On the 22 July 2019, the Press Gazette had a piece on the Government, which will establish a £2m innovation fund to support public interest journalism, with a focus on local and regional news providers. Former Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said the pilot Future News Fund “will help papers explore innovative ways of providing the public service journalism that citizens need and deserve”. The pilot Future News Fund will be administered by innovation foundation Nesta. It will launch this autumn and run until the end of the financial year in March/April 2020.

The Guardian had a piece “The Guardian joins a major media initiative to combat the climate crisis”. More than 60 news outlets worldwide have signed on to Covering Climate Now, a project to improve coverage of the emergency”

The editor of the Observer has joined with press freedom campaigners to call for “robust” action against the use of lawsuits to “silence and intimidate” journalism in the public interest.

The campaign comes as prominent Brexit campaigner Arron Banks has filed a defamation suit against Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr over claims she made in two speeches that he was offered money by the Russian Government and lied about his relationship with the regime. In an open letter published in the Observer, the newspaper’s editor Paul Webster and representatives from organisations including Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Index on Censorship and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom issued a joint call for action to tackle “strategic litigation against public participation” (SLAPP) lawsuits. The Press Gazette had an article.

The retirement has been announced of the distinguished media law silk, James Price QC.

Internet and Social Media

Half of all UK adults now use social media to get the latest news, according to a new survey by regulator Ofcom, with half also getting their news from newspapers, news websites and apps. The BBC, The Independent and the Press Gazette had a piece.

The Media Policy Project Blog had a post “How social media companies are tackling anti-vaccination misinformation”.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

On the 24 July 2019, the European Commission has published a report looking at the impact of the EU data protection rules, and how implementation can be improved further. The report concludes that most Member States have set up the necessary legal framework, and that the new system strengthening the enforcement of the data protection rules is falling into place. Businesses are developing a compliance culture, while citizens are becoming more aware of their rights. There was a news piece on the European Commission website.

The Independent had a piece “Rape cases dropped over ‘unlawful’ police demands for access to victims’ phones”.

The UK government has been taken to court over its decision to deny European citizens the right to access data the Home Office holds on individuals in immigration cases.

In a High Court judicial review, campaigners for EU citizens allege that a clause in the Data Protection Act 2018 unlawfully excludes them from rights they would otherwise hold to access private data held by third parties. The Guardian had an article.

Imperial College London had an article “Anonymising personal data ‘not enough to protect privacy’, shows new study”.

Surveillance

Android spyware allegedly created by one of the Russian government’s go-to surveillance providers has been discovered, and it’s hiding in fake apps that look just like Evernote, Google Play, Pornhub and other massively popular Android apps. There was a piece on Forbes.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

RT has been fined £200,000 by the media regulator for breaching impartiality rules.

The Kremlin-funded news channel, formerly known as Russia Today, was found to have broken the British broadcasting code on seven occasions in the six weeks after last year’s Salisbury novichok poisoning. Despite the fine it will be allowed to retain its licence and continue broadcasting in the UK. “Taken together, these breaches represented serious and repeated failures of compliance with our rules,” said Ofcom. There was a piece in The Guardian, and the Press Gazette.

The Press Gazette had an article “BBC ‘undermined’ Persian service with Iran access deal preventing it from using footage, says NUJ”.

IPSO

On the 23 July 2019 IPSO had a news piece on its website “ Response to Hacked Off’s “McCarthyism in Bad Wigs and Fishnets”. This news report was a response to Hacked off’s post from the 22 July 2019 on a detailed report by Hacked Off which had found many transphobic and abusive articles misrepresenting the Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) Report on Transgender Equality. Hacked off alleged that IPSO’s code does not even cover group discrimination complaints, while complaints about accuracy and other areas are routinely dismissed where they relate to transgender equality.

On 25 July 2019 Hacked off had a press release “IPSO “rebuttal” fails to identify any specific inaccuracy”.

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

03158-19 Edwards v The Mail (Cumbria), 1 Accuracy (2018), 2 Privacy (2018), 4 Intrusion into grief or shock, No breach- after investigation

02363-19 Kerr v The National, 12 Discrimination (2018), No breach- after investigation

01641-19 Adomaityte v Mail Online, 3 Harassment (2018), 2 Privacy (2018), 1 Accuracy (2018), No breach- after investigation

Anonymity Orders

Following amendments to CPR Part 39 (see our post here) anonymity orders are now published on the Judiciary website.  We draw attention to the following from the Media Communications List

19 July 2019,ARN v OSD, Nicklin J

18 July 2019, JKL v VBN, Garnham J

Last Week in the Courts

On 22 July 2019 Warby J hear a default judgment application in the case of Advertising Standards Authority v Mitchell, handing down judgment the same day [2019] EWHC 1958 (QB).

On the same day Richard Spearman QC handed down judgment in the case of Yavuz v Tesco Stores Ltd & anr [2019] EWHC 1971 (QB)(heard 15, 16 and 17 July 2019).

On 22 and 23 July 2019 the same judge heard the trial in the case of Fentiman v Marsh.  Judgment was reserved.

On 23 July 2019 Mann J heard an application by the Claimants in the case of Various Claimants v MGN.  This was adjourned part heard to 2 August 2019.

On 24 July 2019 Warby J handed down a judgment in the case of Rudd v Bridle [2019] EWHC 1986 (QB)) dismissing applications for “funding disclosure” and the disclosure of documents said to be “mentioned” in a witness statement.

On 25 July 2019 Nicklin J heard an application for an order for a trial of preliminary issues in the case of Dahlan v Middle East Eye.  The application was dismissed following an ex tempore judgment.  There is a short report on Lawtel [£].

On 26 July 2019 the UK Supreme Court granted the defendant in the case of Serafin v Malkiewicz permission to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal allowing the claimant’s appeal against the dismissal of the claim by Jay J (see our post here).   The Grounds of Appeal, prepared by David Price QC can be found here [pdf[

Events

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

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Australia

The Guardian had a piece “National security being used to stifle public interest journalism, former judges warn”.

 Canada

 The Ontario Superior Court has dismissed a libel action brought by Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, after Allstate sued a former employee who said she was fired for opposing discriminatory policies within the company. Law Times had an article.

 India

Firstpost had an article “Supreme Court to hear The Wire’s plea on 27 August in criminal defamation case filed against it by Jay Shah”.

Ireland

The Law Reform Commission is recommending changes to the law to stop people involved in court actions taking defamation claims against journalists who make minor mistakes in reporting their case. The Irish Examiner had a piece.

The BBC had an article “Paddy Jackson’s father wins libel action over false Twitter claims”.

Philippines

Cyber libel trial opens against Philippine journalist Maria Ressa. A criminal libel trial concerning a 2012 Rappler story began in a Manila court.

 Her legal defense has noted that the cyber libel law under which she is being prosecuted was enacted four months after the story in question was published in 2012, The Guardian reported. The charge relates to a 2012 story about businessman Wilfredo Keng and his alleged links to drug and human trafficking operations. There was a piece in the Committee to Protect Journalists and The Guardian.

United States

A federal judge dismissed the $250 million defamation lawsuit filed by high school student Nicholas Sandmann against The Washington Post. The MAGA hat-wearing teen sued the newspaper after a video of him and Native American activist Nathan Philipswent viral in January. In the viral video, Sandmann could be seen wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat while smirking at the 64-year-old Philips as he beat a drum during the Indigenous People’s rally.

The suit accused The Post’s coverage of being libellous for “a series of false and defamatory print and online articles” about Sandmann. However, the judge said articles on Sandmann must be “more than annoying, offensive or embarrassing” to be considered defamation. Sandmann’s defamation lawsuits against CNN and NBCUniversal Media are still pending. There was a piece in NBC News and the Courthouse News Service.

The Hollywood reporter had a piece “Johnny Depp’s $50M Defamation Suit Against Amber Heard Allowed in Virginia”.

Reuter had a news “Actor Janice Dickinson’s defamation suit against Bill Cosby settled by insurer”.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On 29 July 2019 Sharp P and Nicklin J will hand down judgment in the case of RXG v Ministry of Justice.

On the same day Nicklin J will hear an application in the case of Craig Wright v Roger Ver.

On Friday 2 August 2019 Mann J will hand down judgment in Various Claimants v MGN Ltd, heard 5-6 June 2019.  Mann J will continue hearing the application by the Claimants in the case of Various Claimants v MGN which began on 23 July 2019 .

Judgments

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

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

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

Lloyd v Google LLC, heard 16 and 17 July 2019 (Sharp P, Vos C and Davis LJ).

Fentiman v Marsh (22 and 23 July 2019)(Richard Spearman 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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