On 24 February 2021, Saini J handed down judgment in a preliminary hearing on meaning in Ware v French  EWHC 384 (QB). This was a libel action over a website article dubbing reporter John Ware’s Panorama programme into anti-Semitism in the Labour party “rogue journalism”.
The Judge acknowledged that French’s report was a “work of political journalism on an important issue of public interest”, but he said French had gone “beyond merely expressing opinions and entered the territory of accusing Mr Ware of deliberate wrongdoing in selectively presenting one side of the story on the national broadcaster (a body with well-known duties of impartiality…” French has vowed to continue fighting the case at a full trial and is crowdfunding his defence. The Press Gazette had a piece.
David Walliams and Martin Clunes have settled damages claims over phone hacking allegations by receiving “substantial compensation” and a public apology, after bringing legal action against the publisher of The Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People. The settlements were announced at a hearing alongside claims by actors Roxanne Pallett, Antony Cotton, Mark and Samantha Womack, Caroline Quentin and her husband Sam Farmer. Statements in open court were read before Mann J on 25 February 2021. The Press Gazette had a piece.
The Cabinet Office has dismissed a complaint about the Equalities Minister by arguing her tirade at a journalist was issued from a personal Twitter account. Kemi Badenoch was criticised for accusing Nadine White of “bizarre” behaviour after the HuffPost reporter sent a standard request for comment to a government press office. The minister published correspondence between the journalist and officials in launching the attack, which led to an alert about the risk to media freedom being registered with the Council of Europe. The Cabinet Office permanent secretary, Alex Chisholm, responded to a formal complaint from HuffPost by saying Badenoch is responsible for her own conduct on her social media account. The Guardian had a piece.
The Society of Editors had a piece “SoE calls for clarity of Scottish Hate Crimes free speech safeguards”.
As usual, updates on the Coronavirus guidance can be found on the Courts and Tribunal Judiciary.
Internet and Social Media
The Guardian had a piece “UK culture secretary warns Facebook after news ban in Australia”.
Twitter has announced it will launch a “super follow” feature, which lets users charge followers for access to exclusive content, later this year. The Guardian had a piece.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The ICO’s website had a post “Supporting you to meet your information access requests – 24 February 2021”.
LSE Media Policy Project had a post “Digital and data literacy: Comparing children’s understanding of data and online privacy with experts’ and advocates’ data literacy practices”.
DLA Piper Privacy Matters had a piece “Europe: Interim EDPB guidance on the application of GDPR to health research”.
The Financial Times had a piece “Vaccine passports are a technical and ethical minefield” [£].
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
Hacked Off had a post “Paul Wragg: A Free and Regulated Press”.
IPSO had a post “IPSO Blog: Examining IPSO’s latest ruling on user-generated comments”.
IPSO has published a number of rulings and resolutions statements since our last Round Up:
- 29978-20 Abdelrahman v The Times, 1 Accuracy (2019), Resolved – IPSO mediation
- 29766-20 Cohen v Mail Online, 1 Accuracy (2019), Resolved – IPSO mediation
- 28966-20 Harrison v Mail Online, 1 Accuracy (2019), 8 Hospitals (2019), Resolved – IPSO mediation
- 28402-20 Jamalli v The Daily Telegraph, 1 Accuracy (2019), No breach – after investigation
- 12214-20 Salmond v Scotland on Sunday, 1 Accuracy (2019), Breach – sanction: publication of correction
- 02678-20 Walker v Daily Mail, 1 Accuracy (2019), 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2019), Breach – sanction: action as offered by publication
- 12118-20 Wadeson v oxfordmail.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2019), Breach – sanction: publication of adjudication
Seven new claims were issued in the Media and Communications List this week, there was one libel claim, two data protection cases, two misuse of private information case, one “breach of privacy” claim and one “miscellaneous”. There were no claims issued against the media.
Last Week in the Courts
On 22 and 24 February 2021 Nicklin J heard the libel trial in the case of Lachaux v Evening Standard and Independent Print. Closing submissions will be heard on 1 March 2021. There was a news piece about the trial on the 5RB website.
On 22 February 2021 Tipples J heard a Norwich Pharmacal application in the case of Oldknow v Evans (as representative of the Labour Party).
As already mentioned, on 24 February 2021 Saini J handed down judgment in the case of Ware v French  EWHC 384 (QB).
On 25 and 26 February 2021 Mann J heard a case management conference in the Mirror phone hacking litigation, Various Claimants v MGN. There were statements in open court in 8 cases.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Facebook has returned news to Australian users after an eight day blackout and standoff with the federal government. The government said an 11th-hour deal was reached between Facebook and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, and the platform agreed to restore news to Australian users just days before the bill passed through parliament. The changes mean the government may not apply the code to Facebook if the company can demonstrate it has signed enough deals with media outlets to pay them for content. The government has also agreed that Facebook and other platforms, which would be subject to the code, would be given a month’s notice to comply. The Guardian had a piece.
ABC News had a piece “Mick Gatto loses defamation case against ABC over Lawyer X article”.
Judgment was handed down in Hutley v Cosco  NSWCA 17 and The Sydney Morning Herald had a piece “Court overturns $360,000 defamation win in Balmain neighbours’ feud”.
Mondaq had a piece “Ontario Court Sets Out New Tort Of “Harassment In Internet Communications“.
In the case of Huff v Zuk, 2021 ABCA 60 the Court of Appeal of Alberta dismissed the defendant’s appeal against an award of $50,000 defamation damages.
Al Jazeera reports that India has announced new rules to regulate content on social media, making Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and others more accountable to legal requests for the swift removal of posts and sharing information on where the messages originated from.
The Irish Times had a piece “Refugee tribunal member sues for defamation”.
The Irish Examiner reports that Judge O’Connor in the Circuit Civil Court has approved a €9,000 damages settlement offered to a teenager who was pulled back into a Tesco store and wrongly accused of not paying for a can of Coca-Cola.
It is reported that businesswoman Vivy Yusof’s defamation suit against a netizen, for allegedly slandering her on the issue of the government helping the B40 and M40 groups affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, is set for trial on 11 August 2021.
Malay Mail reports that the Federal Court in a majority decision has held that Perkasa and its then president Datuk Ibrahim Ali have to pay RM150,000 in damages to former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng over the group’s defamatory statements published in October 2011
Singer Cardi B has filed a motion to dismiss a defamation case against herself and sister Hennessy Carolina after they were named in a lawsuit back in September, following a beach altercation in the Hamptons with a group of ‘MAGA supporters.’ The MailOnline had a piece.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a defamation case brought against former President Donald Trump by adult film star Stephanie Clifford—better known as Stormy Daniels—but the ex-president is still in legal jeopardy for alleged defamation, as two cases from women who accuse Trump of sexual misconduct move forward in court. Forbes had a piece.
Singer and actress Hilary Duff is being sued by a photographer for slander and libel after an incident last year in which she confronted him while he took photographs of her son and other children playing soccer. Darryl Wilkins filed the suit against Duff in Los Angeles County Superior Court, accusing her of damaging his reputation by implying he is a child predator in a video she posted to social media of the confrontation. The MailOnline had a piece.
The Guardian had a piece “Judge approves $650m settlement of privacy lawsuit against Facebook”.
Research and Resources
- Would a Statutory Privacy Tort in Australia Harm Valuable Free Speech?, Megan Richardson University of Melbourne – Law School, Barbara McDonald, The University of Sydney Law School, Normann Witzleb Monash University – Faculty of Law, David Vaile University of New South Wales (UNSW) – Faculty of Law; Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, Graham Greenleaf University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law.
- Deepfake Privacy: Attitudes and Regulation, Northwestern University Law Review, Forthcoming, Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 21-04, Matthew B. Kugler, Northwestern University – Pritzker School of Law, Carly Pace
- The Global Flood of COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps: Sailing with Human Rights and Data Protection Standards against the Wind of Mass Surveillance, SHS Web of Conferences 92 (2021): 01035. https://doi.org/10.1051/shsconf/20219201035., Irena Nesterova, University of Latvia.
- Data Protection in a European World of Ideals: An Unforeseeable Division of Camps (A Study of the Approach Towards Data Protection of the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights), Heather Taylor, Trinity College (Dublin).
- Data and Competition Law: Introducing Data As Non-Monetary Consideration and Competition Concerns in Data-Driven Online Platforms, Umar Javeed, Competition Commission of India.
- Incentivizing Data Donations and the Adoption of COVID-19 Contact-Tracing Apps: A Randomized Controlled Online Experiment on the German Corona-Warn-App, Victoria Fast, University of Passau, Daniel Schnurr, University of Passau.
Next Week in the Courts
As already mentioned, on 1 March 2021 Nicklin J will hear closing submissions in the case of Lachaux v Independent Print.
On the same day Saini J will continue to hear a case management conference in the case of Weaver v British Airways.
[Updates] On 2 March 2021 Warby LJ will deal with consequential matters in the case of HRH The Duchess of Sussex v Associated Newspapers Limited.
On the same day there will be a statement in open court in the case of Sadler v Joyner before Griffiths J.
On 3 March 2021 Morris J will hand down judgment in the case of COS v PER.
On the same day there will be a statement in open court in the case of Hanson v Associated Newspapers read before Griffiths J. The same judge will then hear an application in the case of Hijazi v Yaxley-Lennon.
On 5 March 2021, Warby LJ will hand down judgment in the case of HRH The Duchess of Sussex v Associated Newspapers Limited.
On the same day HHJ Parkes QC will hear the Pre-Trial review in the case of Serafin v Malkiewicz & ors .
On 5 March 2021, two judgments will be handed down. First, Steyn J will hand down judgment in the case of Sahota v Middlesex Broadcasting Corporation Limited. Second, Richard Spearman QC will hand down judgment in the case of Glenn v Kline.
The following reserved judgments after a public hearing are outstanding:
Wright v McCormack, heard 16 and 18 February 2021 (Julian Knowles J)
Desporte v Bull, heard 9 February 2021 (Julian Knowles 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.