On 15 July 2021 Saini J handed down judgment in Blackledge v Person(s) Unknown  EWHC 1994 (QB) awarding substantial libel and harassment damages to the victim of a campaign of online abuse in the form of anonymous blog posts on a website making false and defamatory allegations of sexual misconduct.
The claimant brought a claim in (a) libel; (b) harassment; and (c) for breach of the GDPR against ‘Person(s) Unknown’ defined as being the authors, editors and publishers of the website. He obtained default judgment and sought (i) damages; (ii) an injunction against the Defendant(s); and (iii) a s. 13 DA 2013 order against the host of the website to remove the statements or cease distribution. The Judge awarded £70,000 in damages and granted injunctions in libel and harassment. An order for the blog in question to be removed from the internet was also made. 5RB had a post and the Law Society Gazette had a piece “Unknown blogger liable for £70,000 over #MeToo posts”.
It has been reported the ICO has raided two home as part of an investigation in the leaking of CCTV footage of Matt Hancock in his office with Gina Coladangelo. The ICO has released a statement on its investigation. The raids were condemned in an article in the Sun by Gavin Millar QC as an “astounding state attack on our democracy“. The Press Gazetter had a piece “Info chief under fire for raid to find Sun Matt Hancock scoop whistleblower“.
The Guardian had a series of articles on the Pegasus Project – a leak which has uncovered global abuse of a cyber-surveillance weapon. These articles include:
- What is Pegasus spyware and how does it hack phones?
- Huge data leak shatters the lie that the innocent need not fear surveillance
- FT editor among 180 journalists identified by clients of spyware firm
The Press Gazette had a piece on the potential ramifications for publishers of the judgment issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of Hurbain v. Belgium (application no. 57292/16).
As usual, updates on the Coronavirus guidance can be found on the Courts and Tribunal Judiciary.
Internet and Social Media
Reuters had a piece “English football faces up to global nature of online hate”.
A new documentary about Anthony Bourdain has sparked a debate over its use of artificial intelligence to stitch together voiced quotes by the late celebrity chef and effectively bring his voice back to life. The Guardian had a piece.
The Guardian had a piece “‘They’re killing people’: Biden slams Facebook for Covid disinformation”.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The ICO Blog had a post “What’s next for the Accountability Framework?”
Reuters had an article “ Miniclip, Apple duck data privacy lawsuit over pool game app”.
Bloomberg Law had a piece “Surveillance in Spotlight Amid Ongoing EU-U.S. Data Privacy Rift”
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
Byline Investigates had a piece “The press had sharpened their knives long before England lost on penalties, according to former Sunday Mirror star sports reporter.”
Hold the front page had a post “Weeklies rapped for revealing sex offender’s dad was council chairman”.
IPSO has published a number of rulings and resolutions statement since our last Round Up:
- Decision of the Complaints Committee 02959-21 Walker v Sandbach Chronicle, 1 Accuracy (2019), No breach – after investigation
- Decision of the Complaints Committee 02600-21 A woman (A) v The Sunday Times, 1 Accuracy (2019), 11 Victims of sexual assault (2019), 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2019), No breach – after investigation
- Decision of the Complaints Committee 02510-21 A woman (B) v The Sunday Times, 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2019), 1 Accuracy (2019), 11 Victims of sexual assault (2019), 7 Children in sex cases (2019), No breach – after investigation
- Decision of the Complaints Committee A man and a woman v Bordon Herald, 2 Privacy (2019), 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2019), 9 Reporting of crime (2019), Breach – sanction: publication of adjudication
- Decision of the Complaints Committee 01902-21 A man and a woman v Haslemere Herald, 2 Privacy (2019), 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2019), 9 Reporting of crime (2019), Breach – sanction: publication of adjudication
- Decision of the Complaints Committee 01360-21 A man and a woman v Liphook Herald, 2 Privacy (2019), 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2019), 9 Reporting of crime (2019), Breach – sanction: publication of adjudication
- Decision of the Complaints Committee 00390-21 Collins v Daily Mail, 1 Accuracy (2019), No breach – after investigation
- Decision of the Complaints Committee 29958-20 Iddon v The Sun, 1 Accuracy (2019), No breach – after investigation
New Issued Cases
There were 8 new cases issued in the Media and Communications List between 12 and 19 July 2021: 4 data protection cases, 1 defamation case, 1 breach of confidence case, 1 breach of privacy case and 1 Norwich Pharmacal application.
Last Week in the Courts
As already mentioned, on 15 July 2021, Saini J handed down judgment in the case of Blackledge v Persons Unknown  EWHC 1994 (QB).
On the same day Nicklin J heard an application in the case of Swan v Associated Newspapers. Judgment on meaning and fact/opinion was given by Warby J last May  EWHC 1312 (QB).
On 16 July 2021, Chamberlain J handed down judgment in the harassment case of McNally v Saunders  EWHC 2012 (QB). Summary judgment was entered for the defendant.
Media Law in Other Jurisdiction
YouTuber Jordan Shanks has raised about $1m to fund his defamation battle against New South Wales deputy premier John Barilaro and the criminal defence of his producer, Kristo Langker. Barilaro is suing Shanks, known on YouTube as Friendlyjordies, for defamation, alleging he was wrongly portrayed as corrupt in a series of videos on the popular channel. The Guardian had a piece.
France’s competition regulator has fined Google €500m (£428m) for failing to negotiate “in good faith” with news publishers over payment for their content. The Press Gazette had a piece.
A High Court judge has withdrawn from a jury a defamation action between Michael Reilly and Iconic Newspapers, after saying the article at the centre of the case was fair and accurate and enjoyed absolute legal privilege. That meant it was a matter of law for the court to decide, the judge said. The action was brought by engineer Michael Reilly who claimed he was defamed by being called a criminal in the report of a District Court hearing about another Michael Reilly who got a suspended jail sentence, six year driving ban and a fine for uninsured driving. The Irish Times had a piece.
The Guardian had a news “Russia bans media outlet that published Vladimir Putin scoops”.
The Straits Times had a piece “Widow who sued sister-in-law for calling her ‘rotten’ sought $4m in defamation suit, got $40,000”.
Reuters had a piece “Sacha Baron Cohen, Showtime win dismissal of Roy Moore defamation lawsuit”. The full judgment in the case of Robert Stewart Moore and Kayla Moore v Sacha Noam Baron Cohen, Case 1:19-cv-04977-JPC is available here [pdf].
Research and Resources
- How Data Can Be Used Against People: A Classification of Personal Data Misuses, Jacob Leon Kröger, Milagros Miceli and Florian Müller, Technische Universität Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin; Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society and Universität Kassel.
- The myth of individual control: Mapping the limitations of privacy self-management, Jacob Leon Kröger, Otto Hans-Martin Lutz and Stefan Ullrich, Technische Universität Berlin, Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society and Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society.
- Charting the Skies: Where Does Facial Recognition Technology “Fit” in the Data Privacy Cosmos?, 2 Notre Dame Journal on Emerging Technologies 292 (2021) (Forthcoming), Steven Zansberg, University of Denver Sturm College of Law.
- Analyzing the key rules as well as the approach taken towards confidentiality and privacy in arbitration, Lusungu Mtonga, University of Cape Town.
- The Missing “California Effect” in Data Privacy Law, Jens Frankenreiter, Washington University in St. Louis – School of Law.
- Freedom of Expression in Israel: Origins, Evolution, Revolution and Regression, Oxford Handbook on the Israeli Constitution (Aharon Barak, Barak Medina, Yaniv Roznai, eds.) (forthcoming), Adam Shinar, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah – Radzyner School of Law
Next Week in the Courts
On 19 July 2021 Nicklin J will hand down judgment in the case of Hijazi v Yaxley-Lennon (heard 21-23 and 26 April 2021).
On the same day, Saini J will hear the trial in Ashley v Times Newspapers.
The following reserved judgments after a public hearing are outstanding:
Swan v Associated Newspapers, heard 15 July 2021 (Nicklin J)
Masarir v Kingdom of Saudi Arabia., heard 15 and 16 June 2021 (Julian Knowles J)
Riley v Murray, heard 10 to 12 May 2021 (Nicklin J)
Lloyd v Google, heard 28 and 29 April 2021 (UKSC)
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.
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