On 1 July 2021, Nicklin J handed down judgment in the libel action of Lachaux v Independent Print Limited & Others  EWHC 1797 (QB). Bruno Lachaux won his long-running claim against the publishers of The Independent, i and the Evening Standard and was awarded a total of £120,000 in damages.
The judge ruled that the newspapers’ defence of publication on a matter of public interest under s.4 of the Defamation Act 2013 should not be upheld. Given the gravity of the allegations made against Mr Lachaux, the judge was critical of the “superficial and inadequate” efforts to investigate and the absence of any approach to Mr Lachaux for comment. There were posts on Inforrm and 5RB.
The Times and Mail Online have apologised to the chairman of BAFTA after falsely claiming he had “close links” with actor Noel Clarke. The Press Gazette had an article.
Former MP John Hemming has been ordered to pay costs after an unsuccessful application for summary judgment in his libel claim against journalist Sonia Poulton.
The Press Gazette had a piece “Matt Hancock snog scoop and media law: Sleazy, sensational and in the public interest”.
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 “MPs condemn social media firms over Chris Whitty death threats”.
Facebook, Google, Twitter and TikTok have signed up to the pledge, led by the World Wide Web Foundation (WWWF), to fix persistent weaknesses in how they tackle online gender-based violence. The Guardian had a piece.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The EU Commission has announced that adequacy decisions for the UK have been approved and UK’s data protection laws are robust enough to ensure data can safely flow to the UK from the EU (and EEA). The ICO had a statement.
Mishcon de Reya Data Matters had a post “GDPR “Adequacy” status conferred on UK”.
The ICO reported it has fined Leeds-based Brazier Consulting Services Ltd (BCS) £200,000 for making more than 11 million unlawful claims management calls.
An ICO investigation, prompted by complaints from the public, found the firm made repeated nuisance calls to people about PPI.
The ICO Blog had a post “Improving mobile phone data extraction practices across the criminal justice system in the UK”.
Pinsent Masons had an article “Platforms drawn into EU market surveillance regime for products”.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
New guidance commissioned by the Media Lawyers’ Association (MLA) has been published to help journalists understand the law, and help them recognise abuse that may be illegal. The independent guide will provide practical assistance to journalists in combating online threats and abuse, and was released as part of commitments by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to a National Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists. The Society of Editors had a piece.
IPSO has published a number of rulings and resolutions statement since our last Round Up:
- 01979-21 Parish v express.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2019), Breach – sanction: action as offered by publication
- 00347-21 Williams v Sunday Times, 1 Accuracy (2019), No breach – after investigation
- 27710-20 Mailey v Sunday Life, 1 Accuracy (2019), Breach – sanction: action as offered by publication
- 11891-20 Islamic Human Rights Commission v thejc.com, 1 Accuracy (2019), 2 Privacy (2019), 12 Discrimination (2019), No breach – after investigation
New Issued Cases
There were 14 new cases issued in the Media and Communications List between 28 June and 4 July 2021: 3 data protection cases, 2 injunction cases, 2 breach of confidence cases, 3 misuse of private information cases, one harassment case, 2 “miscellaneous” cases and one Norwich Pharmacal application.
Last Week in the Courts
On 28 June 2021 Murray J handed down judgment in the case of Watkins v Mackle  EWHC 1723 (QB).
On the same day Senior Master Fontaine handed down judgment in the case of XXXX Known As Jean Hatchet v Varma  EWHC 1709 (QB).
As already mentioned, 1 July 2021 Nicklin J handed down judgment in the case of Lachaux v Independent Media  EWHC 1797 (QB).
On the same day there was a hearing in the privacy case of GUH v KYT before Collins Rice J. Judgment was reserved.
Media Law in Other Jurisdiction
In the case of Schlaepfer v Australian Securities & Investments Commission  NSWCA 129 the Court of Appeal of NSW dismissed an appeal by the unsuccessful plaintiff in a slander action. Although a number of the judge’s findings were overturned, the defence of qualified privilege was made out.
The Guardian had a piece “Guardian Australia strikes deal with Facebook to licence news to the platform”.
Russian tennis player Yana Sizikova has filed a lawsuit for defamation after she was arrested amid match-fixing allegations at this year’s French Open. Sizikova was taken into police custody after a doubles match at Roland Garros over allegations related to last year’s tournament. Reuters had a piece.
A High Court judge has ruled the Times Newspapers Ltd may inspect, subject to redaction of material that might identify informants, a Garda report prepared for the Minister for Justice seven years ago. The Times Newspapers Ltd sought to inspect the report in preparation of its defence to a defamation action brought against it by a former garda over an article in The Sunday Times. The Garda report, dated September 29, 2014, is entitled ‘A report for the Minister for Justice concerning the provision of confidential information by a serving member of the Garda to dissident republicans’. The Garda Commissioner, a non-party in the defamation case, opposed inspection, claiming public interest privilege on grounds including preserving the force’s ability to effectively investigate crime and protect informants. The Irish Examiner had a piece.
A leading Malaysian news site was ordered to pay over $130,000 after losing a defamation case against a mining company, adding to concerns about worsening freedom of expression. Malaysiakini was sued by Raub Australian Gold Mining, which claimed articles and videos published in 2012 about pollution allegedly linked to the firm’s operations were defamatory. The now-defunct company’s suit was initially dismissed in 2016, but an appeal court found in favour of the firm two years later, ordering the independent portal to pay 550,000 ringgit ($132,000) in damages and costs. France 24 had an article.
The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of Shkelzen Berisha, the son of Albania’s former prime minister, who said the book that became the movie “War Dogs” falsely linked him to arms dealers. Berisha sued author Guy Lawson for defamation over his book, “Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners From Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History,” purporting to tell the true story of how three young people became international arms dealers. Lawson sold the movie rights to Warner Bros., and the book became the movie “War Dogs.” Lower federal courts said that because Berisha was a public figure, he was required to demonstrate not only that the statements were false but also that they were made with actual malice. The rulings cited the Supreme Court’s landmark civil rights-era case, New York Times v. Sullivan. NBC News had a piece.
The Huffpost had an article “Alex Jones Asks Court To Make Hillary Clinton Testify In Sandy Hook Defamation Case”.
Reuters had a piece “Fired Fox News host accuses NPR, CNN of defamation over rape claim”.
Research and Resources
- Content Moderation as Surveillance, Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 36, 2022 (forthcoming), Hannah Bloch-Wehba, Texas A&M University School of Law; Yale University – Yale Information Society Project.
- Reasonable Expectations of Privacy in an Era of Drones and Deepfakes: Expanding the Supreme Court of Canada’s Decision in R v Jarvis in Jane Bailey, Asher Flynn & Nicola Henry (eds) The Emerald International Handbook of Technology-Facilitated Violence and Abuse (Bing, Kristen Thomasen, University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law; University of Windsor, Faculty of Law , Suzie Dunn, University of Ottawa; Centre for Law, Technology and Society.
- Deepfakes, Privacy, and Freedom of Speech, YourWitness Blog, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, 2021, Christa Laser, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Eric Goldman, Santa Clara University – School of Law.
- Ransomware, Privacy, and Data Protection: A Multi-Jurisdictional Analysis, Magdalena Brewcznska, Independent, Suzie Dunn, University of Ottawa; Centre for Law, Technology and Society, Avihai Elijahu, Independent.
- Submission to Inquiry into Privacy and Personal Information Protection Amendment Bill 2021, Lyria Bennett Moses, University of New South Wales (UNSW) – Faculty of Law, Monika Zalnieriute, University of New South Wales (UNSW) – Faculty of Law.
- Big Data, Big Legal Scuffle: Encapsulating the Right of Privacy: Kenyan Reflection, Jerameel Kevins, University of Nairobi, School of Law
Next Week In the Courts
On 5 July 2021 Collins Rice J will hand down judgment in the the privacy case of GUH v KYT.
On 5 July 2021 and 6 July 2021 there will be a hearing in the case of Qatar Airways Group v Middle East News UK Ltd before Saini J.
On 9 July 2021 the Court of Appeal will hand down judgment in the case of Greenstein v Campaign Against Antisemitism.
The following reserved judgments after a public hearing are outstanding:
Greenstein v Campaign Against Antisemitism, heard 24 June 2021 (Popplewell, Dingemans and Carr LJJ)
Vardy v Rooney, heard 18 June 2021 (Steyn J)
Masarir v Kingdom of Saudi Arabia., heard 15 and 16 June 2021 (Julian Knowles J)
Bindel v PinkNews Media Group Ltd, heard 26 May 2021 (Nicklin J)
Riley v Murray, heard 10 to 12 May 2021 (Nicklin J)
Lloyd v Google, heard 28 and 29 April 2021 (UKSC)
Hijazi v Yaxley-Lennon, heard 21-23 and 26 April 2021 (Nicklin J)
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)
Miller v College of Policing and another, heard 9 and 10 March 2021 (Sharp P, Haddon-Cave and Simler LJJ)
Wright v McCormack, heard 16 and 18 February 2021 (Julian Knowles J)
Desporte v Bull, heard 9 February 2021 (Julian Knowles J)
Ansari v Amini, heard 10-11 November 2020 (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.