On 30 March 2021, Mann J handed down what is likely to be his final “phone hacking” judgment in ruling in Various Claimants v MGN  EWHC 771 (Ch) regarding amendments to some of the Claimants’ statements of case and costs. The Press Gazette had a report of the hearing – including of claims that in 2011 Mirror Group Newspapers tasked private investigators with finding “background” on Mr Justice Eady when he was dealing with Ryan Giggs’ application for an injunction.
On 1 April Byline Investigates continued its coverage of the story regarding a private detective obtaining the Duchess of Sussex’s mobile number after carrying out illegal searches of US databases. The Sun’s publisher News UK denied asking the detective to do anything unlawful on their behalf. The story continued on the 9 April “The Sun’s American Private Investigator denies obtaining Meghan Markle’s phone bills to count Prince Harry’s text messages – despite carrying out the illegal practice in the past”.
London mayoral candidate Laurence Fox is being sued for libel after he called three people “paedophiles” on Twitter. Mental health campaigner Simon Blake, Drag star Crystal, and actress Nicola Thorp began legal proceedings against Mr Fox on 1 April. The claimants allege Mr Fox defamed them on Twitter in October. The comments have since been deleted, and Mr Fox defended his comments, claiming the term used was a “meaningless and baseless” insult. The BBC had a piece.
As usual, updates on the Coronavirus guidance can be found on the Courts and Tribunal Judiciary.
Internet and Social Media
A group of tech and legal experts have come together to create a non-profit alternative to Google’s Privacy Sandbox following the phasing out of cookies. Google wants to replace third party cookies with its Sandbox technology which would still enable advertisers to target particular website users with marketing, but some marketers fear Google taking control of the personalisation technology which underlines most online advertising would enable it to increase its already huge dominance of the digital advertising market. The group says its Secure Web Addressability Network (SWAN) offers an alternative, and users will only be asked to consent to personalised marketing once – with their choice then carrying over to all the other websites involved. The Press Gazette had a piece.
The Government’s website had a press release, that a tough new regulator to help make sure tech giants such as Facebook and Google cannot exploit their market dominance to crowd out competition and stifle innovation online has launched.
Facebook has removed more than 16,000 groups trading fake reviews after the UK’s competition regulator criticised the company for failing to make good on a previous promise to clamp down on the practice. The Guardian had a piece.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
Hawktalk had a post “A divided Isle of Man is the answer to UK’s data transfer woes”.
The Irish Times had a piece “Irish approach to data protection ‘Kafkaesque’, says Schrems”
The Guardian had a piece “How US Capitol attack surveillance methods could be used against protesters”.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
The Press Gazette had a piece “‘Science journalism Christmas’: UK newspapers praised for AstraZeneca jab coverage”.
IPSO has published a number of rulings and resolutions statements since our last Round Up:
There were 35 new cases issued in the Media and Communications List between 29 March and 9 April 2021: 17 defamation cases, 16 data protection cases, one “breach of privacy” case and one injunction application.
Recent Decisions in the Courts
On 29 March 2021, Johnson J heard an application in the case of Soriano v Forensic News LLC and others. Judgment was reserved.
On 31 March 2021 Murray J granted a without notice injunction in the case of CNC v DGS. A copy of the order can be found on the judiciary website [pdf]
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
In the case of Lennon v Herald and Weekly Times  VSC 147 Daly AsJ considered various issued concerning pleading in mitigation of damage. Two paragraphs of the defence were struck out.
The Guardian had a piece “Peter Dutton starts issuing defamation threats to Twitter users”.
A prominent Greek crime journalist has been shot dead in what was described as an “execution-style” murder near his home in Athens. Giorgos Karaivaz, who sought to illuminate Greece’s seamier underside with his coverage of law and order stories on the private Star TV channel, died of gunshot wounds outside his home in the south of the city. The Guardian had a piece.
A Saudi court’s decision to sentence an aid worker to 20 years in prison for allegedly using a satirical Twitter account to mock the Riyadh government has been linked to the infiltration of Twitter by Saudi agents in 2014. There was an article on The Guardian.
Bloomberg reported that a lawyer for Singapore blogger Leong Sze Hian said he raised enough cash from fellow citizens to fully cover damages awarded to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a defamation trial.
Twitter said that the National Archives will not be allowed to resurrect Donald Trump’s tweets, even in its official capacity as a record-keeping organization. However, the archive is working to create a separate record of the former president’s tweets on his official library website. The former president has been permanently banned from Twitter since January, when the company became the first major social media platform to eject Trump after his behavior during the Capitol insurrection. The Guardian had a piece.
O.J. Simpson reportedly settled his defamation suit against The Cosmopolitan hotel of Las Vegas. TMZ Sports reported that the two sides agreed to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice. Fox Business had a piece.
Research and Resources
- Upgrading Unconscionability: A Common Law Ally for a Digital World, Maryland Law Review, Forthcoming, Babette Boliek, Pepperdine University – Rick J. Caruso School of Law.
- Big Data Regulatory Debates in the EU Wang, F. Big Data Regulatory Debates in the EU, (2017) Volume 28 Issue 4 European Business Law Review, pp. 593-613. https://kluwerlawonline.com/journalarticle/European+Business+Law+Review/28.4/EULR2017029, Faye F Wang, Brunel University London.
- The Council of Europe Data Protection Convention Reform: Analysis of the New Text and Critical Comment on its Global Ambition, Paul De Hert, Free University of Brussels (VUB)- LSTS; Tilburg University – Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT), Vagelis Papakonstantinou, Faculty of Law and Criminology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
- Getting to Privacy More Reasonably: A Partial Property Rights Theory of the Fourth Amendment, Mailyn Fidler, Harvard University – Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.
- The Economic Implication of the EU-UA Data Privacy Relationship on its Bilateral Digital Trade Activities, Seth Azubuike, Boston Bar Association; Northeastern University, School of Law.
- Incorporating an Actual Malice Exception to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 49 Southwestern Law Review 462 (2020), Christopher J. Robinette, Widener University – Commonwealth Law School, Shannon Costa,
Next Week In the Courts
On 13 April 2021 Johnson J will hand down judgment in the case of Soriano v Forensic News LLC and others.
On 15 April 2021 Nicklin J will hear an application in the case of Hijazi v Yaxley-Lennon.
On the same day there will be a trial of the case of Coker v Nwakanma before Saini J.
The following reserved judgments after a public hearing are outstanding:
Kumlin v Jonsson, heard 24 and 25 March 2021 (Julian Knowles J).
Junejo v New Vision TV Limited, heard 24 and 25 March 2021 (Murray J)
Millett v Corbyn, heard 16 March 2021 (Vos MR, Sharp P, Warby LJ).
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.