Sunday Telegraph columnist Julie Burchill has apologised to activist and journalist Ash Sarkar, and agreed to pay her “substantial damages”, after making defamatory allegations on Twitter that played into Islamophobic tropes.

In Twitter and Facebook posts and a statement published after the libel and harassment case was settled, Burchill said that her posts had “included racist and misogynist comments” and “played into Islamophobic tropes”. She wrote: “Although it was not my intention, I accept that my statements were defamatory of Ms Sarkar and caused her very substantial distress.The Guardian had a piece and there was a detailed discussion of the case on the Doughty Street Chambers website.

On 18 March the application for permission to appeal and permission to adduce fresh evidence in the case of Depp v News Group Newspapers was heard by the Court of Appeal (Underhill and Dingemans LJJ).  Mr Andrew Caldecott QC, for Mr Depp sought the Court’s permission to adduce “fresh evidence” that Ms Heard had not, in fact,  donated all of her $7 million divorce settlement to charity as she claimed.  On the application for permission to appeal he argued that the Judge applied the wrong test in that he refused to give contemporaneous documents as much weight as oral evidence at trial. The Respondent argued that the evidence as to the charity donation could have been obtained at trial and, in any event, would have had no impact on the Judge’s decision at the trial. Judgment was reserved although the Court indicated it would be given quickly. We had a post on Inforrm and there was a piece on Sky News.

Byline Investigates published an exclusive “A Private Investigator Hired by The Sun to Spy on Meghan Markle and Her Father has Apologised to the Duchess – and the Queen”.

The Guardian has a piece, “‘Wagatha Christie’ heading for libel trial in autumn despite legal costs“.

The Press Gazette had a piece “Tommy Robinson given journalist stalking ban after making threats to try and stop story being published”.

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

Internet and Social Media

Facebook is considering launching a version of its popular photo social media platform, Instagram, for children under the age of 13.  BuzzFeed News reported Facebook announced in an internal company post that the company would begin building a version of Instagram for people under the age of 13 years to allow them to “safely” use Instagram for the first time. Currently the company does not allow people who are under this age to create an account on the platform. The Guardian had a piece.

 Data Privacy and Data Protection

The ICO’s website had a news” Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport and the Information Commissioner sign Memorandum of Understanding on data adequacy”.

Norton Rose Fulbright Data Protection Report had a post “New York State imposes a $1.5 million penalty in cybersecurity breach case”.

Privacy International had a post “The new Policing Bill fails to provide sufficient safeguards around extraction of victims’ data.


 China is poised to crack down on retailers that use facial recognition technology without their customers’ consent amid a growing public backlash about surveillance by companies.  Beijing signalled that it would clamp down on facial recognition after state media revealed that a significant number of stores had installed cameras to track customers without their knowledge. The Times had a piece.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

The Press Gazette had a piece “News Corp strikes ‘landmark’ Facebook News deal in Australia”.

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

New Cases

There were 19 new cases issued in the Media and Communications List last  week – 15 data protection cases, 3 defamation cases and one pre-action injunction application.

Last Week in the Courts

On 15 March 2021 Julian Knowles J  heard an application in the case of Ansari v Amini.

On 16 March 2021 the Court of Appeal (Vos MR, Sharp P, Warby LJ) heard an appeal in the case of Millett v Corbyn. The appeal can be see on the Court of Appeal’s You Tube channel, Parts 1 and 2.  Judgment was reserved.

As already mentioned, on 18 March 2021 the Court of Appeal heard an application for permission to appeal in the case of Depp  v News Group Newspapers.  The appeal can be see on the Court of Appeal’s You Tube channel, Parts 1 and 2.  Judgment was reserved.

On the same day, Nicklin J  handed down judgment in Ward v Associated Newspapers [2021] EWHC 641 (QB).

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


In the case of Christian Porter v ABC, ABC has secured the former solicitor general, Justin Gleeson SC, to lead the national broadcaster’s defence to a high-stakes defamation action launched by the federal attorney general.  Christian Porter began defamation proceedings against the ABC and investigative journalist Louise Milligan in the federal court to counter “false allegations against him in relation to a person who he met when he was a teenager”.  Porter’s statement of claim was lodged with the federal court. The Guardian had three pieces on the case: “Christian Porter defamation action: ABC engages former solicitor general to lead defence”, “Christian Porter defamation case: leading barristers could earn $20,000 a day in ‘trial of the century’” and “Christian Porter’s defamation action threatens to further chill public interest journalism”.

The Daily Mail had an article “Nine star Erin Molan’s defamation claim against Daily Mail Australia takes a turn as she’s accused of laughing at a ‘racist joke’ about an Aboriginal man on the Footy Show”.

The Guardian has a report on the defamation trial in the case brought by criminal lawyer Chris Murphy against the Daily Telegraph.  There was also a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald which reports that the newspaper argued that it did not defame high-profile criminal defence lawyer Chris Murphy in a column claiming he was battling the “ravages of age” and deafness, and it was merely suggesting he could not attend court during the coronavirus pandemic.


The Optimist has a report of the hearing in a defamation claim brought by a lawyer who objected to complaints about his comments on women and race. The defendants contended that his claim was frivolous.  Judgment was reserved.


The Irish Time had a piece “Woman suing neighbour for alleged defamation over ‘die in hell’ letter”.

Republic of Congo

The Committee to Protect Journalists issued an alert “Journalist arrested from clinic bed, detained over defamation complaint in Republic of Congo”.

United States

U.S. far-right and white supremacist groups stepped up their distribution of racist or anti-Semitic fliers, posters banners and other forms of physical propaganda last year, according to a study.  The Anti-Defamation League said it logged a total of 5,125 cases last year, compared with 2,724 in 2019. Its study focused on paper propaganda and signs, not online messages. Reuters had a piece.

A judge has dismissed a $1 million defamation lawsuit against City Attorney Mara Elliott, ruling her Facebook attack ads against election opponent Cory Briggs were protected free speech, even if they were misleading.  Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil said there is no evidence Elliott intended to deceive voters when her ad quoted an outdated court ruling that contained harsh criticisms of Briggs that appellate judges later softened. The San Diego Union Tribune had a piece.

Federal Appeals Court judge Laurence Silberman delivered a dissenting judgment [pdf] in a libel case attacking partisan bias in the news media, lamenting the treatment of conservatives in American society and calling for the Supreme Court to overturn New York Times v Sullivan.  There was a piece on the Politico website.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts

On Monday 21 March 2021 Nicklin J will hear a pre-trial review in the case of Hijazi v Yaxley-Lennon.

On Wednesday and Thursday 24 and 25 March 2021 Julian Knowles J will hear an application in the case of Kumlin v Jonsson.

On 25 March 2021 the Court of Appeal (Underhill and Dingemans LJJ) will hand down judgment in the case of Depp v News Group Newspapers.

Reserved Judgments

The following reserved judgments after a public hearing are outstanding:

Millett v Corbyn, heard 16 March 2021 (Vos MR, Sharp P, Warby LJ).

Depp v News Group Newspapers, heard  18 March 2021  (Underhill and Dingemans LJJ)

Miller v College of Policing and another, heard 9 and 10 March 2021 (Sharp P,  Haddon-Cave and Simler LJJ)

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.