The death of TV presenter Caroline Flack has led to widespread condemnation of press intrusion and renewed calls for regulation of the press and social media.

A Petition entitled “Exploiting People in the Public Eye” has been launched demanding new and stricter laws to safeguard people in the public eye and has attracted over 150,000 signatures. Byline Investigates has a piece by Brian Carthcart, “Caroline Flack and the Dark Side of the Sun”. The Zelo Street blog had a piece “Caroline Flack – Slain by the Sun”. Hacked Off issued a statement.

On 12 February 2020 the Government published its initial response to last year’s Online Harms White Paper consultation. We had a post about the response on Inforrm.  The Government is set to give Ofcom the power to regulate social media content.  The ICO issued a statement about the response, as did IMPRESS. There were reports in the Guardian, the BBC and the Press Gazette. Wired had a piece “The UK’s war on online harms seems destined to fudge and fail”

The judgment in the case of R (Miller) v College of Policing [2020] EWHC 225 (Admin) concerning the logging of “non-crime” hate incidents attracted wide publicity, with the press (and a Downing Street spokesman) commending the Judge’s robust approach to freedom of expression.  He held that police officers unlawfully interfered with Mr Miller’s right to freedom of expression by turning up at his place of work to speak to him about allegedly “transphobic” tweets There were reports in, amongst other places, the Guardian, the Independent, the BBC and the Sunday Times.

The High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom has issued its “Report on the use of Targeted Sanctions to Protect Journalists”.  The report was launched on 13 February 2020 at an event organised by the International Bar Association. There was a piece on the Press Gazette.

Internet and Social Media

Bloomberg reports that 400 million social media users are set to lose their anonymity in India under new rules to be published shortly.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

The ICO and the FCA have issued a joint statement warning FCA authorised firms and insolvency practitioners to be responsible when dealing with personal data.

The Privacy and Cybersecurity Law blog has a commentary on the ICO’s Age Appropriate Design Code of Practice.

IT Governance reports that the Italian Data Protection Authority (Garante per la protezione dei dati personali) last month issued a €27,802,946 fine to telecoms company TIM S.p.A for several GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) infringements and a lack of accountability

Inside Privacy reports that the German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information has launched a public consultation on anonymization

Freedom of Information

Mishcon de Reya Data Matters reports that The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued an important decision, holding that Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) is a “public authority” for the purposes of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR).

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation


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

There was a report on the ruling in Miller v Sunday Times in the Press Gazette.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

We are not aware of any statements in open court in the past week.

Last Week in the Courts

On 11 February 2020 the Court of Appeal (Etherton MR, Lewison and Rose LJJ) handed down judgment in the case of Fearn v. The Board of Trustees of the Tate Gallery [2020] EWCA Civ 104 (heard 21 and 22 January 2020).  The appeal was dismissed.

On 11 February 2020 Steyn J gave judgment in the case of Sakho & anr v World Anti-Doping Agency [2020]  EWHC 251 (QB) (heard 15 January 2020). It was held that the words complained of were defamatory but that the republications were not.  The judge gave permission to appeal.

On 12 February 2020 Nicol J heard the trial in the case of Hathi v News Corporation.


3 March 2020, 17.30-19.00  Bringing Claims for mass data-breaches, BIICL, at Mischon de Reya

14 March 2020, Media Democracy Festival, Birkbeck University, Central London. Free registration tickets are now available.

30 September 2020, 5RB Conference, IET Savoy Place.  Interested readers should email

Please let us know if you have any events which you would like to be listed.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


The Guardian reports that Melbourne dentist, Dr Matthew Kabbabe, has been given permission by the federal court to serve Google to attempt to find out the personal details of an anonymous account that left a bad review about his practice.

Facebook and Google have shared submissions to the Defamation Working Party supporting changes to the law.


The High Court has ruled that former Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Owen Arthur used words capable of defaming the father of Prime Minister Mia Mottley in the lead-up to the May 24, 2018 General Elections. Permission to appeal was granted.

The Barbados Advocate has a piece entitled “Update Libel Laws”.


Littler has a post entitled Ontario, Canada: New “False Light” Privacy Tort and How It Might Impact Employers dealing with the case of Yenovkian v. Gulian, 2019 ONSC 7279


The Art Newspaper reports that British dealer James Butterwick has been cleared of  defamation for describing Russian Avant Garde works in an exhibition as fake.


The Shift considers a report which shows that Malta lost the majority of cases brought against it in the European Court of Human Rights, including 5 cases under Article 10.

New Zealand reports that Sir Robert Jones has discontinued his defamation claim against filmmaker Renae Maihi on the fifth day of the trial at the High Court in Wellington.


Scottish Legal News has a piece by Julie Hamilton, “Defamation, social media and the right to insult”

United States

Lawyer Alan Dershowitz  has issued libel proceedings against another lawyer, David Boies accusing him of carrying out a “war of defamation” and “engaging in a sustained campaign to subvert the judicial process for purposes of disseminating outrageous, knowingly false and defamatory claims accusing Dershowitz of sexual abuse.”

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

We are not aware of any media law cases listed for hearing next week.


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

Hathi v News Corporation, heard 12 February 2020 (Nicol J)

Sube v News Group Newspapers, heard 4 to 7 February 2020 (Warby J)

Canada Goose Retail v Persons Unknown. heard 4 and 5 February 2020 (Etherton MR, David Richards and Coulson LJJ)

Various Claimants v MGN, heard, 28 to 31 January 2020 (Mann J)

Dawson-Damer & Ors v Taylor Wessing LLP & Ors, heard 29 and 30 January 2020 (Floyd, Newey and Arnold LJJ)

W M Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants, heard 6 and 7 November 2019 (Lady Hale and Lords Reed, Kerr, Hodge and Lloyd-Jones)

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