The Duke reported finding a tracking device in the car of his ex-girlfriend, Chelsy Davies and explained that the press intrusion had a devastating impact on their relationship and contributed to its demise.
Andrew Green KC, who represents the Mirror, suggested that although the company’s journalists hacked the voicemails of numerous celebrities during the 2000s, there was no evidence that the Duke of Sussex was also target. Harry responded that this was because Mirror journalists used burner phones to destroy records and pointed to evidence of invoices for private investigators which corresponded with the timing of articles published about him. Hacked Off published a press release commenting on the allegations made by Prince Harry.
Prince Harry’s barrister, David Sherborne also cross-examined the Mirror’s former royal correspondent, Jane Kerr, who authored 10 of the 33 articles alleged to have come from illegal sources. Kerr maintained that whilst commissioning private investigators was common practice, she had never used them to conduct illegal acts or engage in voicemail interception.
The Guardian, The Independent and The Telegraph provided live commentary of the hearing and The Observer summarised the Duke’s cross-examination. The Press Gazette reported separately on the oral evidence provided by Prince Harry and Jane Kerr. The BBC, New York Times, CNN and AP News also covered the trial.
This week marked 10 years since former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden exposed the mass surveillance practice employed by the UK and US. In an interview marking the anniversary of the revelations, Snowden expressed concern about the dangers posed by government, Big Tech and commercially available surveillance cameras, facial recognition, spyware and AI, stating that “If we think about what we saw in 2013 and the capabilities of governments today, 2013 seems like child’s play.” The Open Rights Group, Atlantic, The Register, considered the impact of the whistle-blowing and reflected on whether anything has changed.
The latest attempt by Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, to appeal the decision to extradite him to the US has been rejected by the High Court. Swift J found that a new appeal would simple re-run arguments which had already been made. Assange’s routes of appeal are increasingly limited but his case could still be taken to the ECtHR. He faces a jail term of up to 175 years for espionage. The International and the European Federations of Journalists called on the US government to abandon the case on the ground that it threatens media freedom and the Freedom of the Press Foundation expressed its disappointment at the decision. CNN, the Independent, Reuters, AP News, and The Guardian covered the ruling.
Internet and Social Media
Social news site, Reddit is facing a protest over its decision to try to monetise access to its data, as more than 3,500 subreddits have announced they will lock their doors to new viewers. Subreddits are forums on the Reddit platform that act as communities for particular interests. They are moderated by community users in addition to a few paid moderators. More information is available from the Independent, the BBC, and the Guardian.
Data privacy and data protection
As part of a wider debate about whether students in higher education should be owed a duty of care, universities have been criticized for using GDPR as an explanation for failing to inform the families of students who have attempted suicide, according to the Guardian. MP for Guildford, Angela Richardson asserted that “the university sector clearly needs to improve is understanding of how to use GDPR properly.” Read the debate here.
The ICO have reprimanded the Thames Valley Police for publishing the details of witnesses to a person suspected of a crime, forcing the witness to have to relocate. The force has updated its guidance and policy documents as a result of the investigation. Two energy companies have also been fined £250,000 by the ICO for bombarding people and businesses on the ‘do not call register’ with unsolicited marketing calls. It is illegal to make marketing calls to individuals on the register and the companies have been issued with an enforcement notice ordering them to stop such practices.
The UK government has announced plans to remove Chinese surveillance cameras from government sites after pressure to address national security concerns relating to China. The part state-owned companies Hikvision and Dahua have been criticised for their links with privacy concerns and human rights abuses in China. Beijing opposed the move, stating “we urge the UK side to stop political manipulation and provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for the normal operation of Chinese companies in the UK.” More information can be found from Reuters, SkyNews, and The Guardian.
Newspaper Journalism and regulation
Receivers appointed by Lloyds Banking Group has taken control of the Telegraph Media Group, which includes the magazine Spectator due to an outstanding debt in the region of £1bn. The chair of the parent company was removed as an “act of last resort.” Existing industry players, such as Rupert Murdoch, Lord Rothermere and Alex Springer have been touted as potential buyers, as well as sovereign wealth funds in Gulf States, such as Saudi Arabia. The Financial Times, The Press Gazette, the Guardian, and The Sunday Times reported the story.
More than 1,000 journalists are set to hold a 48-hour strike to protest cuts to local radio services in England. The action follows failed negotiations with the BBC Local senior leadership team, against whom a vote of no confidence was passed last week. The International Federation of Journalists expressed its support for the NUJ’s industrial action. The Independent, the BBC, and Yorkshire Live covered the strike.
- 11063-22 Smith v The Mail on Sunday, 1 Accuracy (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 12068-22 Kelly v scottishdailyexpress.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2021), Breach – sanction: action as offered by publication
- 14035-23 Tucker v oxfordmail.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2021), Resolved – IPSO mediation
- 12648-22 Grandon v hadleigh.nub.news, 3 Harassment (2021), 1 Accuracy (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 01109-23 Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre v The Sunday Times Scotland, 1 Accuracy (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 14117-23 Dines v The Times, 1 Accuracy (2021), No breach – after investigation
Statements in open court and apologies
On 8 June 2023 TJM v West Yorkshire Police, The case concerned statements made to the Claimant’s employer, the Royal Navy, which suggested that the claimant had used threatening and coercive behavior towards his former partner and, as such, was not compatible for service in the armed forces. Only after the publication did the Defendant arrest the Claimant for questioning. Johnson J held that the comments were defamatory in a preliminary trial of the claim on 25 July 2022. Doughty Street published the Statement in which the Defendant apologised for the invasion of privacy caused to the Claimant and his child and stated that the West Yorkshire Police had since revised its procedures and safeguards.
New Issued cases
There were three defamation (libel and slander) claims and one misuse of private information claim issued last week.
Last week in the courts
On 6 to 9 June 2023, the trial in the case of LCG v OVD continued before Collins Rice J.
On 7 June 2023, Nicklin J handed down the long-awaited judgement in the case of Amersi v Leslie  EWHC 1368 (KB). The case concerned allegations made by Conservative donor, Mohamed Amersi, that ex-Tory MP and former Director of the Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC), Charlotte Leslie, had defamed him in a dossier sent to MPs and ambassadors, which claimed he had tried to use his wealth to take over the CMEC. The judge held that the Claimant had not proved serious harm had been inflicted on his reputation and refused permission to amend the Particulars of Claim, leading the case to be struck out due to a failure to disclose a proper cause of action .
Whilst Nicklin J did not resolve the question of whether the case amounted to an abuse of process, he raised concerns about the Claimant’s conduct including delaying commencement of the proceedings, refusing to provide the Court with information about his costs and subjecting the Defendant to successive civil claims. Conservative MP David Davis called the result a “victory for free speech” The BBC, The Guardian and The Independent covered the decision. A costs hearing is set to take place on Tuesday
On 9 June 2023, there was a hearing in the case of Styles v South Wales Police.
Media law in other jurisdictions
On 7 June 2023, the plaintiff’s defamation claim was struck out and dismissed as an abuse of process in the case of Woolf v Brandt (No 2)  NSWDC 184. The case concerned two Facebook posts made after the romantic relationship between the plaintiff and defendant ended.
On 9 June 2023, Lee J ordered that the trial in the case of Lehrmann v Network Ten Pty Limited (Tribunal of Fact)  FCA 612 will be heard by the ordinary mode of a judge sitting alone. All parties opposed a direction that there be a trial by jury. The court held that there was no substantial reason for departing from the usual mode of trial and that the significant publicity in the case would make a jury trial inappropriate.
On 7 June 2023, Madam Justice Forth handed down judgement in the case of Wang and Good Castle Real Estate Development v Lui 2023 BCSC 972. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant defamed her in two YouTube videos and two WeChat posts made in 2020. In her counterclaim, the defendant alleged that she was defamed by the plaintiff. The judge dismissed the defendant’s counterclaim in defamation and ordered the defendant to pay $7,500 in damages to the plaintiff for the two defamatory WeChat posts.
A number of civil society groups have denounced the recent internet access restrictions in Senegal and called on the government to abandon the measures. The government has stated that the measures have been implemented with the aim of preventing the dissemination of hate speech or calls for civil insurrection. The restrictions have limited access to platforms including WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. Read the statement here.
Research and Resources
- Nash, Victoria and Felton, Lisa, Treating the Symptoms or the Disease? Analysing the UK Online Safety Bill’s Approach to Digital Regulation (2023).
- Agarwal, Charu, Data Protection: An Individual Right or An Economic Compromise (2023).
- Agrawal, Kartik, Legality of NFTS, Web 3.0, Cryptocurrency & Metaverse (2022).
- GN, Pooja, Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (RETD) VS. Union of India & ORS (2023).
- Matsumi, Hideyuki and Solove, Daniel J., The Prediction Society: Algorithms and the Problems of Forecasting the Future (2023).
- Floridi, Luciano, Machine Unlearning: Its nature, scope, and importance for a “delete culture” (2023).
- Surani, Aishwarya and Bawaked, Amani and Wheeler, Matthew and Kelsey, Braden and Roberts, Nikki and Vincent, David and Das, Sanchari, Security and Privacy of Digital Mental Health: An Analysis of Web Services and Mobile Apps (2023), Conference on Data and
- Mitchell, Gregory, Balancing Private and Public Interests in the Disclosure of Sexual Harassment Information (June 6, 2023). Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Forthcoming, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2023-48.
- Sharma, Vaishnavi, Understanding Non-Consensual Dissemination of Intimate Images Laws in India with Focus on Intermediary Liability (December 2021). 14 NUJS Law Review 4 (2021).
- Sonnenberg, Peer and Hoffmann, Timo, Data Protection Revisited – Report on the Law of Data Disclosure in Switzerland (2022), Sonnenberg, P. & Hoffmann, T. Data Protection Revisited – Report on the Law of Data Disclosure in Switzerland. University of Passau IRDG, Research Paper Series No. 22-17.
- Pappa, Marina, At the Crossroads of Legal and Technical Translation: The Case of Personal Data (2023). AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 7, Number 2.
- Corbin, Caroline Mala, Free Speech Originalism: Unconstraining in Theory and Opportunistic in Practice (2023). George Washington Law Review, Forthcoming.
- Kozak, Malgorzata, The Media Pluralism Principle, Financing of Public Broadcasters and EU Law (2023).
- Druhan Bullock, Virginia Blair, Frivolous Floodgate Fears. 98 Ind. L.J. 1135.
Next week in the courts
The trial in the case of Various Claimants v MGN will continue all week before Fancourt J.
On 12 June 2023 Nicklin J will deal with directions in the committal application in Davies v Carter.
On Tuesday 13 June 2023, there will be a hearing in the case of Gammon -v- Riley.
On the same day judgment will be handed down by Julian Knowles J in the case of Christodoulides v Christou & Holbech (heard 6 December 2022).
On 13 to 20 June 2023 there will be a trial in the misuse of private information case of Bekoe -v- LB Islington.
On Wednesday 14 June 2023 there will a hearing in the case of WFZ -v- BBC.
On 14 and 15 June 2023 there will be a hearing in the data protection case of YSL -v- Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
On 15 June 2023, the Court of Appeal (Singh, Andrews and Warby LJJ) will hear the claimant’s appeal in the case of Wright v McCormack.
On Friday 16 June 2023 there will be hearings in the cases of Zhurba -v- Person(s) Unknown and Brachers LLP and another v Lingard.
LCG v OVD, heard 25-26 May, 5-8 June 2023 (Collins Rice J)
Ghenavat v Lyons, heard 25 to 26 May 2023 (HHJ Lewis)
Mehmood v Up and Coming TV Limited, heard 26-28 April 2023 (Heather Williams J)
Various Claimants v Associated Newspapers, heard 27 to 30 March 2023 (Nicklin J)
Crosbie v Ley, heard 21 and 22 March 2023 (Julian Knowles J)
Duke of Sussex v Associated Newspapers Limited, heard 17 March 2023 (Nicklin J)
Aaronson v Stones, heard 12-15 December 2022 (Julian Knowles J)
This Round Up was compiled by Jasleen Chaggar who is studying the BPC at the University of Law.