On 26 February 2020 there was a pre-trial review before Nicol J in what promises to be one of the most high profile libel trials of the year, Johnny Depp v News Group Newspapers.

The action concerns an article published in the Sun on 28 April 2018 under the headline “How can J K Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ to cast Depp after assault claim“.  The claim form is available Lawtel [£].  The article alleged that Mr Depp abused his ex-wife, Amber Heard, while they were married.  The Court heard that his previous lawyers had accidentally disclosed 70,000 text messages to the defendant’s lawyers.  The trial is due to begin on 23 March 2020 and is listed for 10 days.  There was a piece in the Press Gazette.

There was a Statement in Open Court in the case brought by beautician Danielle Hindley against the Mail on Sunday. The tabloid accused Hindley of being a “cosmetic cowboy”, falsely stating that she had botched the treatment of customers.  Inforrm had a post by Brian Cathcart.  There was a piece in the Guardian, Why the calls for legal curbs on the press? Because the watchdog has no teeth and pieces on BBC website, in the Press Gazette and on Zelo Street. More information can be found the Hacked Off Website, Parts I, II and III for more information.

The news that the Prime Minister and his companion are having baby and will be married occupied the front pages of several Sunday Newspapers, prompting the suggestion that the information had been leaked to deflect attention from the remarkable resignation statement of the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office.

On 28 February 2020 the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, gave his annual press conference.  A transcript [pdf] is available on the Judiciary website.

In the continuing legal proceedings concerning the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange his legal team have blamed the Guardian for the publication of sensitive unredacted cables.

Internet and Social Media

Paul Bernal’s new book “What do we know and what should we do about internet privacy?”  was published on 20 February 2020.

The Social Media Law Bulletin has covered the rise of influencers over platforms, especially in the context of wearable technology.

TechRadar considers the accessibility of the internet and where this may be put at risk.

The BBC has considered the implications and impact of internet shutdowns.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

The ICO has released Guidance on Codes of Conduct and Certification on the GDPR.

The European Data Protection Board has ordered Google to conduct a full data protection assessment following its acquisition of FitBit, HealthcareIT News reports.

The Financial Conduct Authority has suffered a data breach estimated to have impacted over 1,600 complainants.

The European Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence has been analysed by the Data Matters Blog.

The Mischon de Reya Data Matters Blog has considered whether fashion brands are being transparent about their data.


MI5 Chief Sir Andrew Parker has requested technology firms for “exceptional access” to encrypted messages the Guardian reports.

Newspapers, Journalism and Regulation

Following comments from the Government that it was minded to extend powers to regulate social media platforms to Ofcom, Kevin Bakhurst has responded with an article in the Times [£]. The article highlights that Bakhurst’s arguments that online regulation poses no threat to freedom of speech.

The LSE Media Policy Law Blog has covered the application of the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive and the impact it is expected to have on media organisations practices when producing content.

A man who posted on Facebook that a journalist “needed raping” has been sentenced to five months in jail following the highly abusive threating comment. Leroy McCarthy was also serving a suspended sentence for abusing police officers.

IPSO Rulings

The IPSO Committee released seven rulings this week:

The last five of these were brought by the ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah in relation to tabloid coverage of the death of his son.  There was a report in the Press Gazette.

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

As already mentioned, on 26 February 2020 there was a statement in open court in the case of Hindley v Associated Newspapers.

Recent Judgments

The judgment in Hathi v News Corp [2020] EWHC 365 (QB) – handed down on 21 February 2020 is now available on Bailii.

On 21 February 2020 the Administrative Court handed down judgment in Short v The Falkland Islands [2020] EWHC 439 (Admin), dealing with the Court’s power to anonymise an individual subject  to extradition proceedings for an alleged sexual offence.

[Update] On 21 February 2020 Saini J handed down judgment in the case of Godfrey v The Institute of Conservation [2020] EWHC 374 (QB) [pdf] after a meaning trial.  It was held that the words complained of were statements of opinion.

Last Week in the Courts

On 24 February 2020 Saini J heard an application in the case of Siddiqi v Aidiniantz.

As already mentioned, on 26 February 2020, Nicol J heard the PTR in Depp v News Group Newspapers.  

On 27 February 2020, Warby J heard the PTR in the case of Aven v Orbis.  A reserved judgment will be handed down on 2 March 2020.

On 28 February 2020, Nicol J handed down a judgment in the case of JKL v VBN [2020] EWHC 458 (QB).  The trial listed for 16 March 2020 has been adjourned.


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

12 March 2020, Media and Communications List User Group (“MACLUG”), Plenary Session, 4.45pm, Court 13 Draft Agenda [doc]

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

30 September 2020, 5RB Conference, IET Savoy Place.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


In the case of Massarani v Kriz [2020] NSWDC 26 Gibson DCJ struck out a libel claim on the ground that the legal costs and court resources required to determine the claim were be out of all proportion to the interest at stake.

ABC News reports that school principal Tracey Bose was awarded $3,000 damages against two parents who made derogatory comments about her on social media.


The CTRC hearing into wireless services continues with CEO of Telus, Darren Entwistle, and providing testimony this week. Michael Geist covers the developments.

Hong Kong

The DLA Piper Privacy Matters Blog has covered developments in Hong Kong’s data protection regime.


The Irish Times has a piece entitled “Why you can’t publish a Weinstein #MeToo story in Ireland” – blaming Ireland’s “very restrictive libel regime”.

It is reported that Wissam Al Mana, a Qatari billionaire and ex-husband to US singer Janet Jackon, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Facebook after a dubious crypto project used his photo in ads on the platform


Fackebook, Twitter and Google are robustly responding to the Pakistan Government’s attempted censorship.


Turkey blocked social media access for citizens for 16 hours following an airstrike in Syria.

United States

Stanford’s Cyberlaw Blog has covered the Department of Justice’s plans to restrict the encryption of communications data.

The Guardian considers how Michael Bloomberg’s campaign is “polluting” the internet.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On Monday 2 March 2020, a judgment of Warby J in the case of Aven v Orbis will be handed down by Saini J.

On 3 March 2020 the Court of Appeal (Underhill, Bean and Simon LJJ) will hear the appeal in the case of ZXC v Bloomberg.  We had a case comment  on the first instance decision.

[Update] On 3 March 2020 there will be a trial in the case of Hayden v Associated Newspapers before Julian Knowles J.


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

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.

This Round up was complied by Suneet Sharma a junior legal professional with a particular interest and experience in media, information and privacy law.