The Court of Appeal has ordered that Johnny Depp’s application for permission to appeal against the judgment of Nicol J (Depp II v News Group Newspapers Ltd & Anor [2020] EWHC 2911 (QB)) should be considered at a hearing.  On 1 February 2021 Underhill LJ ordered that the hearing should take place if possible between 15 and 31 March 2021.

The BBC has been fined £28,000 for contempt of court after a regional TV news programme BBC South East Today used a “scene-setting” clip of a judicial review hearing. The report was shown on the 6.30pm and 10.30pm news bulletins and was seen by a total of about 500,000 viewers, including on iPlayer.  Andrews LJ and Warby J said they could not treat the BBC too leniently as it would “send out the wrong message to those with a more cavalier attitude towards restrictions on reporting, recording and broadcasting court proceedings”.  We had an Inforrm post and there was a piece on the Press Gazette.

The Statement in Open Court [pdf] in the case of Duke of Sussex v Associated Newspapers received wide coverage.  There was an Inforrm post, a piece on Byline Investigates and reports in the Guardian and on the BBC.

The Press Gazette had a piece “Charges dropped against Kent protest photographer as Culture Sec grilled on press freedom”.

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

Internet and Social Media

Top British clubs have been urged to stop linking to betting websites from their social media channels because of the potential harm it could cause. A group of 50 former addicts and others affected by gambling have written to 11 teams in the Premier League, EFL and Scottish Premiership. The BBC had a piece.

Sky News had a piece “Myanmar military attempts to block Facebook for ‘stability’ after coup

Data Privacy and Data Protection

Mishcon de Reya Data Matters had a piece “The changing face of beauty tech”.

On February 4, 2021, the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) announced (in French) that it sent letters and emails to approximately 300 organizations, both private and public, to remind them of the new cookie law rules and the need to audit sites and apps to comply with those rules by March 31, 2021. There was a post on Hunton Privacy Blog.

The European Commission had a piece “Bridging the divide between big data innovation and privacy-aware data protection”.


Thomson Reuters Foundation had a piece “Dystopia Prime:’ Amazon AI van cameras spark surveillance concerns”.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

Hacked off had a blog post “IPSO “Rebuttal” of Covid-19 report”.

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

New Claims

Six new claims were issued in the Media and Communications List this week all of them were data protection cases.

Last Week in the Courts

On 1 to 6 February 2021 Julian Knowles J heard the trial in the case of Spicer v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis. Judgment was reserved.

On 1 February 2021 a statement in open court was read before Nicklin J in the case of Duke of Sussex v Associated Newspapers.

On the same day, judgment was handed down in the case of Tinkler v Ferguson [2021] EWCA Civ 18 (heard 16 December 2020 by Peter Jackson and Dingemans LJJ and Sir Richard McCombe).  The Court upheld the decision to strike out a malicious falsehood claim on the grounds that the proceedings were abusive and disclosed no reasonable cause of action. The Court held that there was an inherent power to prevent misuse of its procedure where the process would be manifestly unfair to a litigant or would otherwise bring the administration of justice into disrepute. There was a comment on the appeal on Lexology.

On 2 February 2021 there was a costs management conference in the case of Weaver v British Airways plc before Saini J.  A judgment was given on an application to extend the “cut off date” and in relation to the recoverability of advertising costs [2021] EWHC 217 (QB).

On 3 February 2021 Nicklin J gave a costs judgment in the case of Santi v Santi.

On 4 February 2021 Tipples J handed down judgment in the case of D v Persons Unknown [2021] EWHC 157 (QB).

On 5 February 2021 Nicklin J heard a trial of preliminary issue in the cases of Yousaf v Associated Newspapers Ltd and Sharif v Associated Newspapers Ltd.  Judgment was reserved.  The Judge held that the Mail on Sunday article bore a “Chase Level 1” meaning in most cases.  There was a post about the decision in The News and an “Explainer” in The Dawn.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


On 2 February 2021 Rares J handed down judgment in the case of Chau v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (No.3) [2021] FCA 44.  The plaintiff, Dr Chau Chak Wing, a philanthropist and businessman, was among the subjects of an ABC Four Corners episode in 2017. The businessman sued the broadcaster, Nine and Nick McKenzie, an investigative reporter at the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, over the joint report.  The federal court found the episode had unfairly damaged his “good name”, but had not necessarily made him out to be a spy. Justice Steven Rares found in favour of Chau, awarded him $590,000 and his legal costs, and restrained the ABC from republishing parts of the episode. The BBC and the Guardian had a piece.

On 1 February 2021 Rothman J handed down judgment in the case of Pan v Cheng [2021] NSWSC 30.  There was judgment for Mr Pan in the sum of Aus$285,000 and judgment for the Chinese Australian Services Society in the sum of Aus$150,000.

The Sydney Morning Herald had a piece “Stead offered to settle AFR defamation case for less money, court told”.


In the case of Caplan v. Atas, 2021 ONSC 670  the Ontario Superior Court of Justice recognised a new tort of harassment in internet communications.  There was a CanLII Connects commentary, “A New (and Needed) Cyber-Tort Emerges


The Government has published the submissions made on the Review of the Defamation Act 2009.


The Conversation had a piece “Myanmar’s military has used surveillance, draconian laws and fear to stifle dissent before. Will it work again?”.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s county courts will gain jurisdiction over more personal injury and defamation cases under plans put out to consultation. Justice Minister Naomi Long has launched a 12-week public consultation on increasing the general civil jurisdiction of the county courts. Irish Legal News had a piece.


The Guardian had a piece “Fears rise that Polish libel trial could threaten future Holocaust research”.


The Committee to Protect Journalists issued an alert that Russian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release all journalists detained during recent protests, and allow members of the press to cover political demonstrations without fear.

United States

Bloomberg had a piece “Fox News Faces $2.7 Billion Lawsuit Over Voting Machine Fraud Claims”.

Authorities are investigating whether a child pornography suspect who gunned down two South Florida FBI may have used his doorbell’s security camera to know exactly when they were approaching his apartment and time his ambush, firing a high-powered rifle through the door as their team neared to search his home and computer. ABC News had a piece.

Research and Resources

Next Week In the Courts

On 9 February 2021 Steyn J will hand down judgment in the case of Kim v Lee (heard 26 January 2021).

On the same day HHJ Lewis will hand down judgment in the case of Gilham v Mirror Group Newspapers & anr.

On 10 February 2021 Nicklin J will hear an application in the case of BHX v GRX

Reserved Judgments

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

Duchess of Sussex v Associated Newspapers, heard 19 and 20 January 2021 (Warby J).

Spicer v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, heard 1 to 5 February 2021 (Julian Knowles J).

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