The identities of the actors set to play Coleen Rooney, Rebekah Vardy and their lawyers, as well as husbands Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy, have been revealed for Channel 4’s upcoming two-part film, Vardy v Rooney: A Courtroom Drama. There was a piece in the Scotsman about the series which will be broadcast later in the year.
Guardian Australia has announced the launch of Ben Roberts-Smith v the media, a special 5-episode podcast series about the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial. The episodes will be available from October 17, and a preview episode is already available.
Turkey has adopted a new “disinformation law” which could result in those convicted of spreading disinformation being jailed for up to 3 years. The main opposition Court has expressed its intention to challenge this law in the Constitutional Court.
Internet and Social Media
The senior coroner at Molly Russell’s inquest Andrew Walker, has issued safety recommendations that focus on child access to social media content. Molly died in 2017 after viewing extensive amounts of material related to suicide, depression, anxiety and self-harm on social media platforms like Instagram. The Guardian has more information here.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The DLA Piper blog has an article on the Executive Order on Enhancing Safeguards for United States Signals Intelligence Activities, issued by President Biden, aimed at addressing the widespread legal uncertainty that has prevailed with respect to transatlantic data transfers since the CJEU Schrems II decision in July 2020. The order will also allow the US government to flag any issues with European surveillance programs.
Secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Michelle Donelan welcomed President Biden’s executive order implementing the EU-US Data Privacy Framework. The DCMS said the UK “intends to work expediently” to review its improved safeguards and new redress mechanism, formally consult the UK Information Commissioner for an opinion, and prepare to present adequacy regulations before Parliament in early 2023 with guidance for organizations and individuals.
At Cambridge University found artificial intelligence (AI) tools used for hiring do not reduce recruitment bias. The study found nearly a quarter of 500 human resources professionals surveyed used automated AI for recruitment, but University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies researcher Kerry Mackereth said the tools “can’t be trained to only identify job-related characteristics and strip out gender and race from the hiring process.” The BBC has more information here.
The UK Information Commissioner’s Office formally reprimanded the Secretary of State for the Home Department after sensitive reports containing personal data were found at a public venue in London in September 2021. The documents included two Extremism Analysis Unit Home Office reports and a Counter Terrorism Policing report. The ICO said the Home Office did not adequately protect the personal data, did not implement a sign-out process for documents leaving the office and did not report the incident within the required 72 hours.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
Ofcom has opened an investigation into an episode of Mark Steyn’s 4 October programme on GB News after it received 411 complaints from viewers about comments made by author and journalist Dr Naomi Wolf in relation to Covid-19 vaccines. The investigation will consider whether this programme broke rules designed to protect viewers from harmful material. The Press Gazette has more information here.
The BBC’s executive complaints unit (ECU) has ruled that Match of the Day’s Gary Lineker broke impartiality rules with a tweet relating to Russia in February 2022. The tweet, which is still live, questioned whether the Conservative Party should give back money from Russian donors in response to Liz Truss suggesting Premier League teams should boycott the Champions League final in Russia. The Press Gazette’s coverage of the ruling can be read here.
Former Liberal Democrat MP Sir Simon Hughes has filed a claim against the Daily Mail’s publisher, Associated Newspapers Limited, which alleges that the newspaper misused his private information. According to Hacked Off, it has been reported that this will include the allegation of voicemail interception, or “phone hacking”.
- 13241-21 Wood v Helensburgh Advertiser, 1 Accuracy (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 01139-22 Mehson v Mail Online, 2 Privacy (2021), 3 Harassment (2021), 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2021), 1 Accuracy (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 02465-22 Gleeson v thesun.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2021), 2 Privacy (2021), 12 Discrimination (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 02466-22 Gleeson v mirror.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2021), 2 Privacy (2021), 12 Discrimination (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 07734-22 Gleeson v Mail Online, 1 Accuracy (2021), 2 Privacy (2021), 12 Discrimination (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 10784-22 Various v Telegraph.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2021), Breach – sanction: action as offered by publication
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
On 11 October 2022 a unilateral statement in open court [pdf] was read before Nicklin J in the case of Smith v Backhouse. A former lecturer at University College London Dr Christopher Backhouse paid US academic Dr Erica Smith £49,975 in damages in settlement of privacy and harassment proceedings. Dr Smith was the victim of an anonymous campaign of serious harassment between November 2020 and May 2021, which included death threats, unsolicited requests for sex by text message; and an attempt to deceive the police into sending an armed response team to her address. Inforrm produced a summary, which can be read here. 5RB’s summary can be read here.
On 12 October 2022, a statement was read in settlement of Mincione v RCS Media Group. Newspaper’s publisher RCS Media Group agreed to pay a “substantial sum” in compensation to Raffaele Mincione for what were alleged to be defamatory accusations of embezzlement, fraud and corruption. RCS also agreed to remove two online articles from 2019 and 2020 about the sale of 60 Sloane Avenue in Chelsea, London to the Vatican. The Press Gazette covered the hearing.
New Issued Cases
There were two cases issued in the media and communication list in the last week, on libel case and one pre-action injunction application.
Last Week in the Courts
On 10 October 2022, judgment was handed down in Driver v Crown Prosecution Service  EWHC 2500 (KB). The claim arose out of an email sent by a CPS lawyer to a member of the public in June 2019 (2019 email) about a criminal investigation in which the Claimant was a suspect. The Claimant claimed for a breach of the GDPR or the Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018; Misuse of Private Information (MPI) and a breach of Article 8(1) brought under the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998. Held, DPA 2018 governed the data protection claim because the processing was done for law enforcement purposes . The 2019 email was personal data because the receiver, a member of the public, was able to identify the Claimant as one of the persons to which it related . The defence that sending the email was justified because the Defendant had a legitimate purpose of maintaining public confidence in the investigation and prosecution of crime failed because they did not establish that there was any necessity or pressing social need for this member of the public, on this occasion, to be updated about the case in this way ; which resulted in an attempt to harm or embarrass the Claimant politically. The MPI claim failed as the Claimant failed to show that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy , and the claim under the HRA 1998 failed for the same reasons; thus, there was no need to disapply limitation . Damages of £250 were awarded for the DPA 2018 breach.
As mentioned above, on 11 October there was a statement in open court in the case of Smith v Backhouse.
On 12 October 2022 there was a statement in open court read in the case of Mincione v RCS Media Group.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
The Guardian covers the preliminary hearing for the upcoming defamation trial between Lachlan Murdoch and Private Media’s online news outlet, Crickey. The relevance of Murdoch’s leadership of the US Fox Corporation and its role in the January 6 riots was discussed at length. Lawyers for Murdoch told the court that the article falsely claimed, among other imputations, that Murdoch “illegally conspired with Trump to overturn the presidential election result” and “knowingly entered into a criminal conspiracy with Donald Trump and a large number of Fox News commentators to overturn the 2020 election result”. Private Media told the court they will be relying on Australia’s new public interest.
ABC is seeking to rely on a new public interest defence in a defamation battle with former elite soldier and Australian Values Party founder Heston Russell, who claims the broadcaster wrongly accused him of war crimes. The Sydney Morning Herald has more information here.
Renee Spencer is taking legal action against the Jesus Christians sect’s leader, David McKay, accusing him of defamation in videos that were posted last year on the Jesus Christians YouTube channel, which has more than 130,000 subscribers. She claims McKay wrote a script which referred to her as a “devil worshipper” and a person who has “conspired with neo-Nazis and attempted murderers to terrorise and persecute a Christian group”. The sermon, which is transcribed in court documents, refers to a “mother in Australia whose daughter married one of our members”. The Age has more information here.
The Michael Geist blog has an article that explains why the Canadian film and TV production sector’s Bill C-11 expectations are wildly out of touch with global standards.
On 11 October 2022, judgment was handed down in Bell v GRFN et al., 2022 ONSC 5603 No genuine issue for trial was found since the “sting” of the defamation was substantially true.
On the same day, the appeals and cross appeals with respect to the amendments to the defamation action MTM Commercial Trust v Statesman Riverside Quays Ltd, 2022 ABCA 328 was dismissed.
The Fei Chang Dao blog covers the censorship over information around the 20th National Congress in Beijing on 16 October 2022.
The Leaflet has a piece entitled Interim injunctions in online defamation suits border on censorship
Former High Court Judge Justice Bernard Barton has weighed in on the debate to remove juries from defamation trials, calling the proposal “preposterous.” The suggestion was made in a review of defamation laws published earlier this year. Barton explained that “Judges come from a privileged background by and large. They live in a rarefied atmosphere. What do they know about how ordinary members of society think about anything, never mind defamation?
Italy’s data protection authority, the Garante, is investigating an application that reproduces false, realistic voices of well-known individuals. The Garante has asked “The Storyteller Company — Fakeyou” to provide information on how its technology works, what personal information is processed and the purposes for data processing, IAPP reports.
The Times of Malta reports on evidence given by former prime minister Joseph Muscat in a libel case. He described a Facebook post by lawyer Christian Grima as “totally defamatory” in his regard because it implied that he killed or was involved in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
A Connecticut jury has decided that right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay at least $965 million in damages to numerous families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting for falsely claiming they were actors who faked the tragedy.
The Grunge website has a piece on the “largest defamation verdicts in US history”
The Times reports that Amber Heard has filed an appeal against the libel judgment that ordered her to pay her former husband Johnny Depp $10.35 million.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily halted Texas’ social media law from going into effect while tech trade groups seek review from the Supreme Court. NetChoice and CCIA had requested in a Sept. 29 motion that the 5th Circuit stay implementation while they ask the Supreme Court to take up the underlying case. The trade groups — which represent Facebook, Twitter and Google — are appealing a Sept. 16 ruling from the 5th Circuit that upheld the Texas law.
Research and Resources
- Schultz, Jason, The Right of Publicity: A New Framework for Regulating Facial Recognition (2022), Brooklyn Law Review, Forthcoming
- Greenleaf, Graham and Kaldani, Tamar, Mongolia’s Unique Data Privacy Law Completes Coverage of Central Asia (2022), 178 Privacy Laws & Business International Report
- Jütte, Bernd Justin and Priora, Giulia, CJEU Rejects Poland’s Challenge to Preventive Upload Filtering to Combat Copyright Infringement on Online Platforms (Case C-401/19) (2022), Forthcoming in EIPR
- Wasiq, Mohammad Rasikh, Legal Regime on Freedom of Speech and Expression with Special Reference to Sedition Law under India, the United Kingdom, and the United States Of America (2022), International Journal of Creative Research Thoughts (IJCRT)
- Wasiq, Mohammad Rasikh, Sedition in Respect of Freedom of Speech and Expression: Indian Legal Perspective (2022), ILS Law College
Next Week in the Courts [Updated]
On Wednesday 19 October 2022 there will be hearings in the cases of Hay v Cresswell and Bashar v Thompson.
On Thursday 20 October 2022 there will be hearings in the case of QRT v JBE and LCG v OVD.
Dyson v Channel 4 News, heard on 6 October 2022 (Nicklin J)
Riley v Sivier, heard on 18 July 2022 (Steyn J)
Nagi v Santhiramoulesan, heard on 11 July 2022 (Johnson J)
Hodson -v- Persons Unknown & Others, heard on 12 and 13 July 2022 (Jay J).
Daedone v BBC, heard on 7 July 2022 (Pepperall J)
Shah v Ahmed, heard on 4 July 2022 (Collins Rice J)
Tayler v HarperCollins, heard on 28 June 2022 (Pepperall J)
BW Legal Services v Trustpilot A/S, heard 17 and 18 May 2022 (Tipples J)
LCG v. OVD, heard on 4 May 2022 (Murray J)
XXX v Persons Unknown, heard on 12 April 2022 (Chamberlain J)
This Round Up was compiled by Colette Allen who is the host of Newscast on Dr Thomas Bennett and Professor Paul Wragg’s The Media Law Podcast (@MediaLawPodcast).