On Thursday and Friday 4 and 5 March 2021, Mann J conducted his final case management conference in the News Group phone hacking litigation. The managing judge, who is due to retire from the High Court bench shortly, has presided over 90 case management conferences in the News Group and Mirror phone hacking litigation since his appointment as managing judge in 2013. The litigation will now be managed by Fancourt J.
At the outset of the hearing the settlements were announced of 13 claims, including those brought Noel Fielding, Rebecca Loos, Rhodri Giggs and Ally McCoist. All these claimants accepted “substantial damages” from the News of the World over phone hacking by journalists. There were pieces in the Guardian and the Press Gazette and on the BBC website.
On 2 March 2021 Warby LJ conducted a remote hearing in the case of HRH Duchess of Sussex v Associated Newspapers Ltd. Associated’s 11 Grounds of Appeal [pdf] were rejected, with Warby LJ explaining he “did not consider that there is any real prospect that the Court of Appeal would reach a different conclusion as to the outcome of the claim for misuse of private information, or as to the issues I decided in the copyright claim”, but the judge acknowledged the publication retains a right to challenge this in a higher court. We had a post about this hearing.
On 5 March 2021 Warby LJ handed down a judgment ( EWHC 510 (Ch)) following 2 March 2021 hearing. The newspaper was ordered to publish statements announcing its own defeat. Further, the Duchess was awarded recovery of at least 90 per cent of her legal costs for the summary judgment application. We had a post on the judgment and the Press Gazette had a piece.
A clinical psychologist and therapist has won her libel claim against the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline. Dr Elly Hanson issued proceedings over false and defamatory allegations contained in an article relating to the role allegedly played by “psychotherapists” in “fuelling” the fantasies of Carl Beech, whose allegations of historic child sexual abuse were investigated in the context of Operations Midland and Conifer.The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline published apologies online and in hard copy on 31 January 2021, paid Dr Hanson £65,000 in damages, and agreed to pay her legal costs. A Statement in Open Court was read in the High Court on 3 March, making it clear that the allegations levelled against Dr Hanson were untrue and should never have been published. There was a piece on 5RB and the Press Gazette.
The Press Gazette had a piece “Julian Assange extradition: Freedom of British media to expose US state secrets is at stake”.
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 “‘Self-deprecating’ black Tiktokker agency challenges prejudices in Italy”
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The ICO had a news “ICO urges businesses to act now as Children’s Code comes into force in six months”. Two separate companies that sent nuisance text messages during the Covid-19 pandemic have been fined a total of £330,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Messages from one of the firms prompted a record 10,000 complaints.
The ICO has fined West Sussex-based Leads Works Ltd £250,000 for sending more than 2.6 million nuisance text messages to customers without their valid consent, and has fined a Manchester company £80,000 for sending nuisance marketing messages during the pandemic. The ICO’s website had a news piece.
Mishcon de Reya Data Matters had a piece “Collective GDPR claims – is the route forward through the CPR?”
The Panopticon Blog had a post “Disclosure of Leakers”.
The Financial Times had an article “German court bars surveillance of far-right AfD”
Human Rights Watch had a piece “Technology is Enabling Surveillance, Inequality During the Pandemic”.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
The Society of Editors had a piece “New report into media coverage of terror underscores valuable role of the Press”.
The Press Gazette had two pieces about former Mirror editor Roy Greenslade and the IRA. The first was entitled “Greenslade responds to outrage over IRA views: “I did nothing more than scores of journalists”. The second was “Roy Greenslade and IRA: Northern Ireland coverage scrutinised as Guardian apologises”
IPSO’s blog had a post “Call for Publishers’ Annual Statements 2020”
IPSO has published one ruling and resolution statement since our last Round Up:
- 08251-19 Bates v The Scotsman, 1 Accuracy (2019), 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge (2019), No breach – after investigation
There were 8 new cases issued in the Media and Communications List last week – four data protection cases, two defamation cases, one harassment case and one pre-action injunction application. There were no claims against national media organisations.
Last Week in the Courts
On 1 March 2021 Nicklin J heard closing submissions in the case of Lachaux v Independent Print. Judgment was reserved.
On the same day Saini J continued to hear a case management conference in the case of Weaver v British Airways.
As already mentioned, on 2 March 2021 Warby LJ dealt with consequential matters in the case of HRH The Duchess of Sussex v Associated Newspapers Limited and handed down a judgment on 5 March 2021.
On 3 March 2021 Morris J handed down judgment in the privacy injunction case of COS v PER  EWHC 475 (QB).
As already mentioned, on the same day there was be a statement in open court in the case of Hanson v Associated Newspapers read before Griffiths J.
The same judge also heard an application for extension of time to serve evidence in the case of Hijazi v Yaxley-Lennon. There was a report on the BBC website.
On 5 March 2021, HHJ Parkes QC heard the Pre-Trial review in the case of Serafin v Malkiewicz & ors .
On the same say Richard Spearman QC handed down judgment in the case of Glenn v Kline  EWHC 468 (QB). Damage of £100,000 were awarded to the claimant, the former FA Chief Executive, against a former assistant director of football at Fulham. There was an article in the Independent.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Judgment in Leyonhjelm v Hanson-Young  FCAFC 22 was handed down on 3 March. Former senator David Leyonhjelm lost his appeal against a defamation ruling and must pay A$120,000 compensation to Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young. The Conversation had a piece.
Dolce and Gabbana has filed a defamation lawsuit against two fashion bloggers who reposted anti-Asian comments attributed to one of the designers. The Italian fashion house is seeking over $600m (£434m) in damages after the post led to a boycott of the company by Asian consumers. The claim was filed in a Milan civil court in 2019 but only became public this week when the bloggers – Tony Liu and Lindsay Schulyer – posted about it on their Instagram account. Sky reported the news.
Scottish Legal News had a piece “Definition of defamatory statement set out in bill”.
The National has an article “This is why reforms to Scotland’s defamation law were long overdue“.
Hundreds marched in Bangkok and lit ceremonial fires in front of a courthouse to protest Thailand’s draconian royal defamation law and the jailing of several prominent pro-democracy activists. They are also demanding the abolition of a lese majeste law which shields the kingdom’s ultra-powerful King Maha Vajiralongkorn and the royal family from defamation, and carries penalties of up to 15 years per charge. France 24 had a piece.
Alec Baldwin’s defamation lawsuit has been given the green light to head to trial. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice David Cohen denied the defendant Wojciech Cieszkowski’s request to have Baldwin’s defamation claim against him thrown out according to Page Six. “The plaintiff must meet a high bar of proof on his motion to dismiss and, since he fails to definitively prove the truthfulness of his interpretation of the incident, he does not meet his burden,” Cohen wrote in his ruling. Baldwin is alleging that Cieszkowski lied and defamed him when he accused the actor of punching him in the face during a dispute over a parking spot on November 2, 2018. Baldwin pleaded guilty to harassment over the altercation in January 2019, agreeing to pay a $120 fine and take anger management classes. Vanity Fair had a piece.
Research and Resources
- Journalists, Judges, and State Officials: How Russian Courts Adjudicate Defamation Lawsuits Against the Media, Kurkchiyan, M., & Kubal, A. (Eds.). (2018). A Sociology of Justice in Russia. Cambridge University Press., Maria Popova, McGill University
- In Search of the Elusive Middle Ground Between Blasphemy and Free Speech: From Defamation of Religion to Incitement to Hate, In Search of the Elusive Middle Ground Between Blasphemy and Free Speech: From Defamation of Religion to Incitement to Hate (August 5, 2020), Faisal Kutty, Valparaiso University Law School.
- Privacy the Shield that Protects or the Sword that Strikes Freedom of Speech?, Indian Law Review, Vishal Rakhecha, NALSAR University of Law.
- Designed to Serve Mankind? The Politics of the GDPR as a Global Standard and the Limits of Privacy , 80(4) Heidelberg Journal of International Law 819-845 (2020), Roxana Vatanparast, Harvard Kennedy School; University of Turin
- The Public’s Right to Benefit from Privately Held Consumer Big Data, Forthcoming, 96 N.Y.U. L. Rev. __ (2021)., Mary D. Fan, University of Washington – School of Law.
- Consumer Privacy and Consent: Reform in the Light of Contract and Consumer Protection Law, Australian Law Journal, Vol. 94, No. 10, 2020, U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 925, Damian Clifford, Australian National University College of Law, Jeannie Marie Paterson, University of Melbourne – Law School.
- The Public Trust in Data, Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 110, 2020, Aziz Z. Huq, University of Chicago – Law School.
- Pure Privacy, Northwestern University Law Review, Forthcoming, Jeffrey Bellin, William & Mary Law School.
- National Paths on implementing EU GDPR: a legal approach, Curierul judiciar, https://www.curieruljudiciar.ro/2018/10/15/28517/, Tatiana Camelia Dogaru, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (NSPSPA)
- CONSUMER CHOICE AND CONSENT IN DATA PROTECTION, Antitrust Chronicle https://www.competitionpolicyinternational.com/category/antitrust-chronicle/, Pranvera Këllezi, Këllezi Legal; Swiss Competition Commission.
Next Week in the Courts
On 8 March 2021 Nicklin J will hear an application in the case of COS v PER.
On 9 March 2021 Collins-Rice J will hand down judgment in the defamation case of Mirza v Farooqui.
On 12 March 2021 Nicklin J will hear an application in the case of Davies v Carter.
The following reserved judgments after a public hearing are outstanding:
Lachaux v Independent Print, heard 22 and 24 February and 1 March 2021 (Nicklin J)
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.