The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog

Law and Media Round Up – 22 June 2020 [Updated]

Ministry of Justice figures for defamation claims in 2019 show a 22% increase over 2018.  We had a post on this.  There was also a piece on the Stewarts Law website.

As usual, updates on the Coronavirus guidance can be found on the Courts and Tribunal Judiciary.

Twitter has permanently suspended Katie Hopkins’ account for violating the platform’s “hateful conduct” policy. Hopkins has been repeatedly retweeted by the US president, Donald Trump, and had more than 1.1 million followers, was removed to “keep Twitter safe”, according to the social media platform. A spokesperson for Twitter confirmed her removal to the Guardian and there was a piece on their website.

The UK has cancelled all plans to release its NHS Covid-19 app  which was designed to be a key component of the test, track and trace programme to forge a way out of lockdown. The government has now confirmed that it will switch to the model preferred by Apple and Google. There was a piece in The Guardian.

The Press Gazette had a piece “Mail publisher pays damages to Palestinian centre over ‘grotesque’ libel in Tom Bower serialisation”. Carter Ruck, the law firm representing the Palestinian Return Centre, also published the news on their website.

Internet and Social Media

The Guardian had a piece “Facebook removes Trump re-election ads that feature a Nazi symbol

Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced in April that the nation would force Google and Facebook to pay for news content, ordering the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to develop a mandatory code between publishers and the tech giants. In its response to the ACCC consultation, Facebook has dismissed the idea it should pay for Australian news content, describing news content as “highly substitutable” in commercial terms. The Press Gazette had a piece.

Twitter has flagged a video tweeted by Donald Trump, which contained a fake CNN news segment about a “racist baby”, adding a warning label that the post contained manipulated media. There was a piece in The Guardian.

The Press Gazette had a piece “Nancy Pelosi: Social media bosses have ‘utterly failed’ to combat Covid-19 disinformation

Data Privacy and Data Protection

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has released an investigation report into the use of mobile phone extraction (MPE) by police forces when conducting criminal investigations in England and Wales. The investigation found that police data extraction practices vary across the country, with excessive amounts of personal data often being extracted and stored without an appropriate basis in existing data protection law. There was a news piece on the ICO’s website.

A data protection NGO is calling on the European Commission to block Google’s planned acquisition of Fitbit, arguing the technology giant doesn’t have a “clean record” with the handling of sensitive personal information.

Google formally notified the Commission of its plan to acquire Fitbit, a wearable technology company in the health and fitness sector, the deal is valued at approximately $2.1 billion (€1.8 billion). Euronews had a piece.

Norton Rose Fulbright Data Protection Report had a post “Schrems II judgement due in July – what this might mean for your outsourcing deal”.


The Guardian had a piece “Coronavirus mass surveillance could be here to stay, experts say”.

The Conversation had a piece “Tracing homophobia in South Korea’s coronavirus surveillance program”.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

The Press Gazette had a piece “Covid-19 has prompted boom for TV news, dip in media trust worldwide and surge in misinformation – 2020 Digital News Report”.


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

06584-20 Fair Play for Women v The Times, 1 Accuracy (2019), Resolved- IPSO mediation

02638-20 A woman v Mail Online, 3 Harassment (2019), 2 Privacy (2019), 1 Accuracy (2019), 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2019), 6 Children (2019), 12 Discrimination (2019), 14 Confidential sources (2019), Resolved0 IPSO mediation

01321-20 A Man v Sunday Life, 11 Victims of sexual assault (2019), Resolved: IPSO mediation

01235-20 Jones v Daily Star Sunday, 1 Accuracy (2019), No breach- after investigation

09159-19 Fair Play for Women v, 1 Accuracy (2019), Breach- sanction: action as offered by publication

07867-19 The Transparency Project v Daily Express, 1 Accuracy (2019_, Breach- sanction: publication of adjudication

05745-19 Yaxley-Lennon v Daily Star Sunday, 1 Accuracy (2019), 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2019), 16 Payment to criminals (2019), Resolved- IPSO mediation

Last Week in the Courts

On 17 June 2020 Nicol J handed down judgement in XLD V KZL[2020] EWHC 1558 (QB) granting the claimant an interim injunction for harassment and misuse of private information. The claimant alleged the defendant was blackmailing him after they met in secret on a dating website.

On 19 June 2020, Mann J handed down judgment in Trance 4 of the News Group phone hacking litigation, Various Claimants v News Group Newspapers [2020] EWHC 1593 (Ch).  The judge refused to strike out the Replies which set out the claimants’ response to the defendant’s limitation defence.

On the same day there was an assessment of damages before HHJ Lewis in the case of Gilham v Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd & anr

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


The former West Australian Labor MP, Melissa Parke, has accused Wentworth MP Dave Sharma of implying she was an anti-Semite, when he tweeted a link to her resignation from last year’s federal election race after she made controversial comments about Israel. Sharma is arguing his tweet amounts to fair political comment. He has also branded Parke’s action as “lawfare” and an abuse of process ultimately threatening free speech. After early attempts at mediation broke down in May, the case is now headed for trial in South Australia later in the year. The Sydney Morning Herald had a piece.

The McCabe Curwood website has a comment on the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Victoria in the case of Defteros v Google LLC


CBC News had a piece “Constituents sue George Darouze for defamation”.


On 19 June 2020 France’s top court for administrative law dismissed Google’s appeal against a $57M fine issued by the data watchdog for not making it clear enough to Android users how it processes their personal information.

The State Council’s decision affirmed the data watchdog CNIL’s earlier finding that Google did not provide “sufficiently clear” information to Android users — which in turn meant it had not legally obtained their consent to use their data for targeted ads. Tech Crunch had a piece.


In the case of Higgins v Irish Aviation Authority [2020] IECA 157 [pdf] a €387,000 defamation award by a jury to an Aer Lingus pilot against the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has been cut to €76,500 by the Court of Appeal (CoA). Mr Justice Donald Binchy, on behalf of the three-judge COA, found the appropriate sum for general and aggravated damages was €76,500.  There were pieces in The Irish Examiner and the Sunday Times.


Norway has been forced to stop loading data to its national Covid-19 track and trace app after a ruling by the national data privacy watchdog.

The Norwegian Data Protection Authority (DPA) raised concerns that the Covid-19 track and trace software, called “Smittestopp,” poses a disproportionate threat to user privacy — including by continuously tracking and uploading people’s GPS location to a national database for half a year. Digital Health had a piece.


The Press Gazette had a piece “Philippine journalist Maria Ressa vows to ‘keep fighting’ after jail sentence for libel”.


The Outer House of the Court of Session has granted interim orders in an action for defamation brought by energy company British Gas against a blogger from Stornoway that require him to remove certain blog posts as well as restricting the content of future posts. Scottish Legal news had a piece.  The judgment in the case of British Gas Trading v McPherson [2020] CSOH 61 was delivered on 13 May 2020.

The Brodies websit had a piece entitled “Stuart Campbell v Kezia Dugdale and the defence of fair comment for defamation in Scotland“.


It is reported that the trial of the defamation claim brought by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong against blogger Leong Sze Hian has been adjourned.

United States

Bloomberg had a piece “Fox News Denies Defaming Playboy Model Who Claims Trump Affair”.

Former special counsel Robert Muller is being sued for defamation over a footnote in the Mueller report which identified him as a “Russian businessman”.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On 22 June 2020 Julian Knowles J will hear an application in the case of XLK v KZL.

[Update] On 23 June 2020 Saini J will hear the trial of a preliminary issue on meaning in the case of Millett v Corbyn.  There was a piece about the action in Jewish News.

On the same day Nicklin J will hear the pre-trial review in the case of Nwakamma & ors v Umeyor

On 25 June 2020, Jay J will hear the pre-trial review in the case of Gubarev & ors v Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd & anr.

On the same day Nicol J will hear an application in the case of Depp v News Group Newspapers


The following reserved judgment after a public hearing in a media law case is outstanding:

Aven v Orbis Business Intelligence, heard 16 to 19 March 2020 (Warby J)

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.


The Coronavirus lockdown is an ideal time for Inforrm readers to compose all those blog posts they have been thinking about for many months but been too busy to write.  This is an ideal opportunity to keep in touch with the media law world.  We can be contacted at



  1. Robert

    The links in the first paragraph aren’t quite right: You’ve linked to the Stewart’s Law piece twice, and not your own post.


      Thank you. Corrected

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