On Tuesday and Wednesday 19 and 20 January 2021 Warby J will hear the Duchess of Sussex’s application for summary judgment against Associated Newspapers, the publishers of the Mail on Sunday, in her claim for misuse of private information, data protection and breach of copyright.

The judge ruled that the public could log-on to the virtual hearing but only if they registered by 4pm on Friday 15 January 2021.  Inforrm had a post entitled Mail Faces High Court Showdown With Meghan Markle This Week Following a Bad Run of Legal Losses.

Hold the Front Page has a comment on the case of Sicri v Associated Newspapers entitled “83,000 reasons to remember that arrested suspects have right to privacy until charged

Pub landlord Karl Morris pleaded guilty to sending a public online communication that he knew to be false and for the purposes of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety contrary to Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. Michael Casey, who runs the Your Harlow and Your Thurrock websites in Essex had reported that police raided Morris’ pub as part of a series of drug searches across the town, citing a police press release and adding a clarification that no drugs had been found nor any arrests made at the pub. Morris, contacted Your Harlow and demanded the whole story be taken down. He then falsely claimed on Facebook, in a post that was extensively shared throughout the local community, that Casey had been arrested on suspicion of child porn offences. The post included the full address and a photo of Casey’s home, which is also where he works, causing him to fear for his family’s safety. Morris pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and was told to pay a £200 fine, a £34 victim surcharge and £105 costs to the CPS. There was a piece on the Press Gazette.

The Society of Editors had a piece “PA obtains court injunction over Workers of England Union press cards”.

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

Internet and Social Media

The Press Gazette had a piece “Tech platforms now editors says Hancock as Trump banned from social media and Parler switched off by Amazon”.

The Press Gazette also had a “Platform Profile”  Which publishers used Parler and why most refused to associate with controversial right-wing site.

The BBC reports that the Polish government has proposed a new law to stop social media platforms deleting content or banning users who do not break Polish laws.  there was also a report in the Guardian.

A Covid-19 Vaccine Counter-Misinformation Fund has been launched by Google News Initiative aimed at reaching broader audiences with fact checks. The global $3m fund is open to news organisations of any size, which have a proven track record in fact-checking and debunking activities or partner with an organisation with such recognition. The Society of Editors had a piece.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

The European Data Protection Board adopted its Strategy for 2021-2023, which outlines its objectives and key actions for the upcoming years. Its strategy, as well as its work in general, are guided by core principles of protection of individuals’ personal data and development of a common data protection culture, which serves as an inspiration and model globally. Mondaq had a piece.

Advocate general Michal Bobek found that, under the Europe Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, any of the EU’s 27 states can bring privacy actions against Facebook. The opinion, which is non-binding, could lead to an increase in the number of enforcement actions taken against Facebook and other companies that process personal data if it is adopted by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Computer Weekly had a piece.

British Airways faces a group action in respect of its 2018 data breach.  Compliance Week had a piece.


Reuters had a piece “HK security chief says communications surveillance can come under security law

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

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

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


ABC News had a piece “Clive Palmer still suing WA Premier for defamation after all, apologetic spokesman says”.


The B.C. Supreme Court has ruled that Twitter must answer to a defamation lawsuit from West Vancouver billionaire Frank Giustra in Canada. Giustra sued Twitter in 2019, alleging the social media giant allowed false and defamatory messages to be posted about him. Rather than file a response to Giustra’s claim, Twitter sought to have the matter dismissed out of B.C. courts, arguing that California, where Twitter has its headquarters, would be the correct jurisdiction but its arguments were rejected. Business in Vancouver had a piece.

Northern Ireland

The Belfast News Letter had a piece by Lord Lexden, “Stormont has not explained why it refuses to reform libel law to protect free speech and journalism” and another by Kate Hoey.


France 24 had a piece “Thai royal defamation cases ramp up as protests pause”.

United States

The Supreme Court of the State of New York’s Second Department has overturned a decades-old precedent when it ruled that a false claim of homosexuality is no longer defamation per se. Such a false claim can still be considered defamatory, but plaintiffs will have to prove that they’ve been damaged by it. Before the ruling, under New York law, examples of defamation per se include falsely accusing someone of a heinous crime or having a “loathsome disease.” Falsely claiming that someone is homosexual had also been lumped in. Defamation per se is a false accusation that is so damaging that plaintiffs don’t have to prove that they suffered damages, unlike defamation claims. The NBC News had a piece.

Business Insider had a piece “Dominion is ramping up its defamation lawsuits for election conspiracy theories. Trump and his right-wing media allies could be their next target.

New Claims

Three new claims were issued in the Media and Communications List this week: two “non-media” libel case and one misuse of private information/data protection case.

Last Week in the Courts

On 14 January 2021 there was a statement in open court [pdf] in the case of Emmanuel v Associated Newspapers before Nicklin J.

On 15 January 2021 judgment was handed down by the Court of Appeal in the case of Wright v Granath [2021] EWCA Civ 28.  The appeal against Jay J’s dismissal of Dr Wright’s lawsuit under article 27 of the Lugano Convention was allowed by a 2:1 majority on the basis that the cause of action in Norway requires negligence which is not required in the English cause of action. There was a 5RB case comment.

On the same day Jay J handed down judgment in the case of Soriano v Forensic News LLC & Ors [2021] EWHC 56 (QB).  The claimant obtained permission to serve a US defendant out of the jurisdiction, successfully overcoming the hurdle of section 9 of the Defamation Act 2013. There was a 5RB case comment.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

As already mentioned, on 19 and 20 January 2021 Warby J will hear an application for summary judgment in the case of Duchess of Sussex v Associated Newspapers.

Reserved Judgments

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

B.C.Strategy UK Ltd v Keshet Broadcasting Ltd heard 17 November 2020  (Saini J).

Riley v Sivier, heard 11 December 2020 (Collins-Rice J).

Tinkler v Ferguson, heard 16 December 2020 (McCombe, Peter Jackson and Dingemans LJJ).

Please let us know if there are other reserved judgments which we should be listing.

This Round Up was compiled by Nataly Tedone who is a media and entertainment paralegal.