This week the media has been dominated by coronavirus (for up to date worldwide statistics, see here).  So far the business of the Courts in England and Wales continues.

However, it is inevitable that a number of upcoming cases with foreign witnesses will be adjourned.  In addition, the Government is considering more drastic containment measures in the next week including self-isolation for the over 70s.  It seems likely that Court business will be affected.

On 9 March 2020 the Press Gazette had a piece on the Government creating a new coronavirus disinformation unit to monitor social media and respond to false claims relating to the outbreak. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the aim of the unit was to “provide a comprehensive picture on the potential extent, scope and impact of disinformation”.  it has also been announced that UK aid will fund new international push to challenge dangerous fake news about coronavirus.

Last week, the ASA published two rulings about ads for face masks which claimed that they could protect wearers against coronavirus infection.  Its website had piece, “Coronavirus COVID – 19 Advertising responsibly”.

Back to legal news. On 11 March 2020 the Supreme Court (Lords Wilson, Briggs and Kitchin) has granted Google LLC permission to appeal against the order of the Court of Appeal in the case of Lloyd v Google LLC ([2019] EWCA Civ 1599) granting the representative claimant permission serve a representative claim out of the jurisdiction. There was an post on Inforrm.

On 9 March 2020 , Byline Investigates had a piece alleging that TV presenter Philip Schofield was forced to come out as gay in order to “manage” a threatened Sun story about his private life. There was a press release by Hacked Off and an Inforrm post.

The publisher of the Daily Mirror has lost the latest round of a High Court fight with claimants including the Duke of Sussex, who say they were victims of phone hacking. One concern the Daily Mirror had related to allegations that MGN’s legal department had been aware of widespread use of unlawful information gathering techniques. Mr Justice Mann ruled that the claim relating to allegations about what the legal department knew could be aired at a trial. The Press Gazette had a piece.

The Guardian’s media commentator Roy Greenslade has a piece entitled “It’s time to break the silence about Mirror phone hacking”.

Internet and Social Media

CBC had a piece “COVID-19 and social media: Limit the spread of fear by changing online behaviour”.

IICSA report calls for social media firms to be forced to pre-screen all uploaded material to help law enforcement agencies cope with the “explosion” in online child sexual abuse in the UK. There was a piece on The Guardian.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

The ICO’s website had a blog post that it has issued two reprimands, which are legal warnings, to schools for wrongly disclosing the personal data of children in the form of pictures.

The Swedish Data Protection Authority fined Google SEK75m (€7m, £6.13m) for failures relating to the right to have search results removed, granted under GDPR. Under the European rules, individuals have the right to have search results removed from Google results if they are inaccurate, irrelevant or “considered superfluous.”

The regulator also criticised Google for informing website owners that a listing was due to be removed allowing them to republish the pages at a different address. The watchdog said this effectively undermined the right to delist. There was a piece on The Register.

The Panopticon blog had a post “Data Protection Doesn’t Do Oral (Processing)”.

The ICO has issued guidance “Data protection and coronavirus: what you need to know”.


Germany’s domestic intelligence agency (BfV) has put part of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) under formal surveillance as the chief of the BfV has described far-right terrorism and extremism as the biggest danger facing democracy in Germany. The Guardian had a piece.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

IPSO had a blog post “Reporting on sudden infant deaths”.


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

Recent Judgments

The judgment in the case of Godfrey v Institute of Conservation [2020] EWHC 374 (QB), handed down on 21 February 2020 by Saini J is now available on Bailii.

Last Week in the Courts

On 9 March 2020 Warby J heard an assessment of damages in the case of Reid v Price.  Judgment was reserved and was handed down on 13 March 2020 ([2020] EWHC 594 (QB)).  The claimant was awarded damages for misuse of private information of £25,000.

On 10 March 2020  Nicol J heard an application in the case of Johnson v McArdle. 

On the same day Mann J handed down judgment in the case of Various Claimants v MGN [2020] EWHC 553 (Ch) (heard 28 to 31 January 2020)

On 11 March 2020 the Court of Appeal (Floyd, Newey and Arnold LJJ) handed down judgment in the data protection case of Dawson-Damer & Ors v Taylor Wessing LLP & Ors [2020] EWCA Civ 352 (heard 29 and 30 January 2020).  The appeal and the cross-appeal were both allowed.

On the same day Julian Knowles J handed down judgment in the case of Hayden v Associated Newspapers [2020] EWHC 540 (QB).  The judge concluded that the words complained of did not bear any defamatory meaning and the claim was dismissed.

On 12 March 2020 there was the trial of a preliminary issue in relation to meaning in the case of Hijazi v Yaxley-Lennon before Nicklin J.  Judgment was reserved. There was a report of the hearing on the BBC website.


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

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


A South Melbourne brothel owner is taking legal action to force Google to reveal who wrote its bad online reviews, some of which direct customers to a nearby competitor. There was a piece on The Age.


The Committee to Protect Journalist had an alert for Bangladesh authorities to locate missing journalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol, and not allow a criminal defamation case to proceed against him.


Canada News Wire had a press release “Law Commission of Ontario Launches Final Report: Defamation Law in the Internet Age


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would begin using advanced digital monitoring tools to track carriers of the coronavirus, raising major privacy concerns and prompting accusations of mass surveillance. The Times of Israel had a piece.


The Court of Session (Lord Clark) handed down judgment in the case of Wildcat Haven Enterprises v Wightman [2020] Scot CS CSOH 30. The Court dismissed out a £750,000 claim for damages brought against Green MSP Andy Wightman.  The claimant said that Mr Wightman harmed its plans to raise funds for a wildcat sanctuary in the Highlands. There was a piece in The Guardian.

United States

The Atlantic had a piece “The True Danger of the Trump Campaign’s Defamation Lawsuits”.

Former casino mogul Steve Wynn was awarded the “nominal” damage amount of $1 after a Nevada judge ruled a woman defamed him when she reported to Las Vegas police in 2018 that Wynn raped her in Chicago in the early 1970s and that she gave birth to his daughter in a gas station restroom. Fox Business had a piece.


A 15-year-old boy has been arrested in Zambia for allegedly defaming the country’s president in Facebook posts, as critics accuse the administration of turning increasingly authoritarian. The unnamed teenager will appear in court soon, police said. The Guardian had a piece.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On 16 to 19 March 2020 there will be a trial in the data protection case of Aven v Orbis Business Intelligence before Warby J.


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

Hijazi v Yaxley-Lennon, heard 12 March 2020 (Nicklin J)

ZXC v Bloomberg, heard 3 and 4 March 2020 (Underhill, Bean and Simon LJJ)

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

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 compiled by Nataly Tedone who is a media and entertainment paralegal.