On 15 February 2021 the Press Gazette reported that a man has been jailed for almost six months after sending Facebook messages threatening to shoot a regional journalist. Peter Cunliffe has also been handed a two-year restraining order preventing him from contacting Amy Fenton, who at the time of the offence was chief reporter at Newsquest daily The Mail in Cumbria.
The paper’s journalists were flooded with abuse in response to their reporting over a woman who was charged with perverting the course of justice over false allegations of rape.
The Law Society Gazette had a piece “Suspended sentence for woman who live streamed video of boyfriend’s trial”.
Photographer Andy Aitchison, was arrested at home on suspicion of criminal damage after reporting on a protest outside Napier Barracks. Following his arrest he was detained for a number of hours, interviewed and released on conditional bail not to go to Napier Barracks, his lawyers said. Police refused charges, but days later he was handed a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) for £200, which Kent Police has now said was issued erroneously. Bindmans LLP said the FPN was “unlawful” and criticised what it called a “flagrant disregard of all journalists’ ability to report on events”. Journalists are classed as key workers during the pandemic. The Press Gazette had a piece.
Justice minister Lord Wolfson has said he will update lawyers on improvements to the controversial new online site for procedure rules. The blueprints for civil, family and criminal law have all moved to the gov.uk website but the change has been criticised by large numbers of users. The system has been described as unusable and in particular created doubts about how litigants in person can navigate their way through the rules in their current format. The Law Society Gazette had a piece.
The application for permission to appeal in the case of Johnny Depp v News Group Newspapers has now been fixed for 18 March 2021.
As usual, updates on the Coronavirus guidance can be found on the Courts and Tribunal Judiciary.
Internet and Social Media
Facebook has blocked publishers and users in Australia from sharing and viewing news in response to the country’s legislative plans to force it to pay for news content. The Facebook ban came a day after the government celebrated the passage of its world-first news media code through the lower house and just hours after News Corp signed a global deal with Google to pay for news content in its publications in Australia, the UK and the US. The Guardian had a piece.
The Conversation had a piece “Facebook has pulled the trigger on news content — and possibly shot itself in the foot”.
The Press Gazette had a piece “Regulation: Politicians running the world’s leading economies are planning to tame Facebook and Google”.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
On 19 February 2021 the Government’s website had a press release on the European Commission’s draft data adequacy decisions, which recognise the UK’s high data protection standards and set out that the UK should be found ‘adequate’. Positive data adequacy decisions under both the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Law Enforcement Directive (LED) would allow for personal data to continue to flow freely from the European Union (EU) and wider European Economic Area (EEA) to the UK.
The Law Society Gazette had a piece “Relief as EU deems UK data protection laws ‘adequate’”.
The ICO’s website had a post “ICO launches data analytics toolkit”.
Mishcon de Reya Data Matters had a post “Data protection adequacy imminent for UK?”
The Guardian had a piece “DWP uses excessive surveillance on suspected fraudsters, report finds”.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
The Society of Editors had a piece “Journalists to be included in courts Covid testing pilots”.
IPSO had a blog post “IPSO Blog: Representing Readers’ Views”.
IPSO has published a number of rulings and resolutions statements since our last Round Up:
- 29761-20 Rape Crisis Scotland v The Scotsman, 1 Accuracy (2019), Resolved – IPSO mediation.
- 28335-20 Hajiyev v spectator.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2019), No breach – after investigation.
- 11474-20 Hale v birminghammail.co.uk, 2 Privacy (2019), 3 Harassment (2019), 9 Reporting of crime (2019), No breach – after investigation.
- 11473-20 Hale v dailystar.co.uk, 2 Privacy (2019), 3 Harassment (2019), 9 Reporting of crime (2019), No breach – after investigation.
- 11472-20 Hale v mirror.co.uk, 2 Privacy (2019), 3 Harassment (2019), 9 Reporting of crime (2019), No breach – after investigation.
- 11471-20 Hale v dailyrecord.co.uk, 2 Privacy (2019), 3 Harassment (2019), 9 Reporting of crime (2019), No breach – after investigation.
- 11470-20 Hale v thescottishsun.co.uk, 2 Privacy (2019), 3 Harassment (2019), 9 Reporting of crime (2019), No breach – after investigation
Nine new claims were issued in the Media and Communications List this week, three were libel claims, two were data protection cases and there was one case each in the following categories: misuse of private information, harassment, Norwich Pharmacal and “miscellaneous”.
Last Week in the Courts
On 16 and 18 February 2021 Julian Knowles J heard a PTR in the case of Wright v McCormack. Judgment was reserved.
On 16 February 2021 Tipples J handed down judgment in the libel and data protection case of Mueen-Uddin v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 269 (QB).
On 17 February 2021 Saini J heard an application in the case of Weaver v British Airways.
On 18 February 2021 Saini J heard the trial of preliminary issues on meaning, fact or opinion and whether the words are defamatory in the case of Ware v French. Judgment was reserved.
On 19 February 2021 Saini J handed down judgment in the case of Sellers v Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth And Development Affairs & Anor  EWHC 358 (QB) He dismissed claims by Paul Sellers, the former Country Director of the British Council in Italy, that two emails (of three complained of) sent by staff at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Council were defamatory of him at common law. There was a news report on the 5RB website.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Members of Facebook’s oversight board, which some have likened to an internal “supreme court”, have been called on to speak out or step down after the platform shut down swathes of media and key public information sites during a battle with the Australian government. The Guardian had a piece.
The Sydney Morning Herald had a piece “PM stops advertising on Facebook as MPs call for more regulation”.
The Guardian had a piece “Belarus jails two journalists who covered Lukashenko protest”.
CBC had an article “Peter Nygard to drop defamation case against CBC, members of The Fifth Estate”.
A court in Delhi has acquitted a journalist of defamation after she accused a former government minister of sexual assault, in a landmark ruling for India’s #MeToo movement. Indian journalist Priya Ramani had faced up to two years in jail for criminal defamation over an article she had written accusing Mobashar Jawed Akbar, a former foreign minister and newspaper editor, of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room during a job interview. The Guardian had an article.
Businessman Declan Ganley and a telecommunications company of which he is chairman and chief executive have claimed before the High Court that they were “maliciously” defamed by broadcaster CNN. Mr Justice Tony O’Connor granted an ex-parte application by Mr Ganley’s lawyers permitting legal papers to be served outside the jurisdiction on CNN. Mr Ganley and Rivada Networks claim they were defamed in a broadcast and article published by Cable Network News (CNN)on October 20th, 2020 . It is claimed the publication arose after the company had been seeking to enter into a contract with the US government to build a 5G telecommunications network by leasing the US department of defence’s mid-band spectrum. The Irish Times had a news piece.
Malaysia’s highest court on Friday found news portal Malaysiakini in contempt over comments about the judiciary posted by readers, a ruling condemned by rights groups as a clampdown on free speech. Reuters had a piece.
The Nation reports that the High Court in Abeokuta, Ogun State, has delivered its judgment in a libel claim against UK-based Blogger, Maureen Badejo. The Judge described Maureen Badejo’s campaign against the claimants as “the worst case of reckless defamation and evil use of the internet and social media,” and awarded the sum of N250million to each of the claimants (making a total N500 million) as aggravated and exemplary damages for libel.
Forbes had a piece “Judge Tosses Out Another GOP Lawsuit Against CNN”.
Research and Resources
- Report on Civil Liability for Misuse of Private Information, Jack Tsen-Ta Lee & Phang Hsiao Chung; Simon Constantine (ed), Report on Civil Liability for Misuse of Private Information (Singapore: Law Reform Committee, Singapore Academy of Law, 2020) (ISBN 978-981-14-7748-5), Jack Tsen-Ta Lee, Independent, Hsiao Chung Phang, Attorney-General’s Chambers, Singapore.
- Personal Information Management Systems: A User-Centric Privacy Utopia? Published in Internet Policy Review (18 December 2020), 9(4), pp 1 – 25; https://doi.org/10.14763/2020.4.1536 , Heleen Janssen, University of Cambridge – Computer Laboratory, Jennifer Cobbe, University of Cambridge – Computer Laboratory, Jatinder Singh, University of Cambridge — Dept. Computer Science & Technology (Computer Laboratory)
- Security Challenges and Strategies for the IoT in Cloud Computing, International Journal of Innovations in Engineering Research and Technology ISSN: 2394-3696 Volume 3, Issue 9, Sep.-2016, Lakshmisri Surya, Independent.
- A Critical Assessment on the Extraterritorial Application of Human Rights Treaties to Transnational Cyber Surveillance, (2017) 15:1 Canadian Journal of Law and Technology 53-65., Wanshu Cong, European University Institute – Department of Law (LAW); McGill University – Faculty of Law.
- Five Myths About Privacy, The Washington Post 2013, Daniel J. Solove, George Washington University Law School.
- State Cyber Surveillance and the Elimination of Human Rights Encounter, 2018 American Society of International Law Midyear Research Forum, Wanshu Cong, European University Institute – Department of Law (LAW); McGill University – Faculty of Law.
- Privacy Class Actions, Ignacio Cofone, McGill University Faculty of Law.
- From Theory To Practice: Exercising The Right Of Access Under The Law Enforcement And PNR Directives, Plixavra Vogiatzoglou, Katherine Quezada Tavárez, Stefano Fantin et al., From Theory to Practice: Exercising the Right of Access under the Law Enforcement and PNR Directives, 11 (2020) JIPITEC 274 para 1 , Stefano Fantin, KU Leuven, Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP); Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Plixavra Vogiatzoglou, KU Leuven – Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP), Pierre Dewitte, KU Leuven – Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP), Katherine Quezada Tavárez
Next Week In the Courts
On Monday 22 February 2021 Nicklin J will begin hearing the libel trial in the case of Lachaux v Evening Standard and Independent Print.
On the same day Tipples J will hear a Norwich Pharmacal application in the case of Oldknow v Evans (as representative of the Labour Party). There is a piece about the case in the Jewish Chronicle.
The following reserved judgments after a public hearing are outstanding:
Wright v McCormack, heard 16 and 18 February 2021 (Julian Knowles J)
Ware v French, heard 18 February 2021 (Saini 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.
This Round Up was compiled by Nataly Tedone who is a media and entertainment paralegal.