A leading BBC presenter has been taken off air pending an investigation after claims emerged that he paid a teenager more than £35,000 for sexual images. The well-known presenter allegedly began paying the teenager when they were 17. The family made a formal complaint to the BBC in May 2023, asking the corporation to stop the behaviour towards their child, now 20. The Sun broke the story. The Daily Mail, Evening Standard, BBC, Sky News, and Guardian are some of the many news outlets to cover the ongoing story.

Labour has an announced its opposition to the repeal of section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, a rule designed to enable cost-effective mediation to resolve libel claims for news publishers who sign up to the government-backed regulator. The Guardian warns of the potentially bruising clash with UK news publishers Labour’s opposition may face. The latest Media Law Podcast Newscast discusses the press reaction to this policy stance and corrects some of the misreporting over what Section 40 means. Hacked Off sets out the allegations made against The Guardian and Financial Times that they failed their readers with their misleading explanations of Section 40.

The UK Cabinet Office is to hand over Whatsapp messages concerning the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic to the public inquiry, following the High Court’s rejection of their challenge, Cabinet Office v Chair of Covid Inquiry [2023] EWHC 1702 (Admin).  Dingemans LJ and Garnham J held that requests for documents by public inquiries were “bound to lead to the inclusion of some irrelevant material”, but that did not make the request unlawful. The government said it would comply with the decision. Reuters, The Institute of Government, The Guardian and SkyNews have more information.

Former MP George Osborne has called in police after a “malicious” email was sent out to wedding guests days before his marriage to Thea Rogers. The anonymous email, which was also sent to several journalists, is alleged to be part of a “very serious campaign of ongoing harassment” against the couple, carried out over a “long period of time” and alleged to include cyberbulling. The Independent, SkyNews, Telegraph and London Economic have more information on the anonymous email. The Guardian and BBC also report a demonstration at the Osbourne-Rogers wedding which Just Stop Oil has stated was not organised by them.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has been accused of approving the “rewriting of history” by backing the extension of the “right to be forgotten” from search engines to cover news websites more broadly, Hurbain v Belgium (Application no. 57292/16). The Grand Chamber of the ECtHR upheld the decision the Third Section that the anonymisation of a newspaper archive report of a person’s involvement in a fatal road traffic accident did not violate Article 10.  We had a comment on the Chamber decision in 2021. There was a piece in the Press Gazette.

Internet and Social Media

Twitter has threatened to sue Meta following the launch of rival messaging app, Threads. Lawyers for Twitter have accused Meta of engaging in “systemic, wilful and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.” The letter before claim written to Mark Zuckerburg, dated 5 July 2023, accused Meta of hiring dozens of former Twitter employees with access to highly confidential information about the platform, many of whom “improperly retained Twitter documents and electronic devices.” The Guardian, Reuters,  Independent, Verge, Daily Mail, Forbes and CCN have more information. A spokesperson for Ireland’s Data Protection Commission said Meta’s Threads, will not be launched in the EU “at this point,” Independent.ie reports.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

The National Cybersecurity Centre is investigating an alleged breach of data belonging to Barts Health NHS Trust. The ALPHV, or BlackCat, group claimed it obtained 7 terabytes of internal documents belonging to London hospitals. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is also investigating the incident. Bloomberg has more information here.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

The CEO of secure messaging service ‘Element’ Matthew Hodgson has warned that the Online Safety Bill currently passing through parliament poses a huge threat to journalists and their sources. Hodgson warns the Online Safety Bill’s proposals to allow the government to scan private messages through a backdoor into secure messaging apps, with the aim to target criminals and terrorists, could also be used to find journalist sources and whistleblowers. The Press Gazette has more information here.

Hacked Off has published articles analysing the Meghan Markle/Clarkson complaint and outlining the five times The Mail profiteered from women in moments of vulnerability.

The editor of The Spectator has criticised the press regulator IPSO for upholding the complaint against The Sun over the Jeremy Clarkson column about Meghan Markle.

Fraser Nelson claimed that the ruling “puts IPSO in violation of its own charter” and “has torn up” protections for opinion. The Press Gazette has more information here.

The ICO has released a code of practice concerning data protection considerations for journalists and media outlets. The Information Commissioner John Edwards explained “the crucial public interest role served by the media is the reason journalism is covered by data protection law,” adding the code “strikes the right balance” while providing “clear and practical guidance.”


Statements in Open Court and Apologies

On 5 July 2023, Channel 5 made the latest of a series of statements in open court in which it apologised to the subjects of an edition of the reality programme ‘Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away!’. Channel 5 agreed to pay substantial damages to the claimants for publishing conversations obtained using covert microphones and body cameras by High Court Enforcement Officers. The material recorded in this way included conversations in which confidential information was disclosed. Channel 5 has also undertaken not to further publish the offending material. Read 5RB’s summary here.

New Issued Cases

There were no new cases issued on the media and communications list last week.

Last Week in the Courts

On 3 July 2023, the libel trial in Harcombe & Kendrick v Associated Newspapers Ltd began before Nicklin J. The claimants, a practising GP and an independent researcher, allege that a 2019 Mail on Sunday article titled “The deadly propaganda of the statin deniers” defamed them. 5RB and Press Gazette have more information.

On 4 July 2023, Heather Williams J heard preliminary arguments and a strike out application in Davidoff v Hargrave. The libel claim relates to a tweet and a comment on an online website. 5RB has more information here.

On 5 July 2023, the public inquiry set up to investigate allegations that British special forces unlawfully killed detainees and others in Afghanistan heard arguments over reporting restrictions. The Ministry of Defence and Royal Military Police are seeking wide-ranging restrictions on what can be reported, and on the extent to which the inquiry can take place in public, on national security grounds, 5RB reports.

On the same day, Fancourt J heard two applications in Duke of Sussex v NGN. The Duke of Sussex is bringing a claim for misuse of private information arising from unlawful information gathering against the publisher. His application was to amend his case to assert that NGN should be estopped from raising any limitation defence. 5RB, ITVX and Press Gazette have more information.

On  5 July 2023 Susie Alegre handed down judgment in the case of Bekoe v LB Islington [2023] EWHC 1668 (KB).  The claimant’s claims for misuse of private information and breaches of the GDPR  were successful.  Damages of £6,000 were awarded.

The representative claimant in the case of Prismall v Google LLC has applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal against the decision of Heather Williams J dismissing the representative claim for misuse of private information (see our Case Comment here)

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


Brittany Higgins has revealed she has received a defamation threat from her former boss Linda Reynolds over an Instagram post that included a list of complaints against the senator. Reynolds has responded by accusing Higgins of “defamation of my character.” Higgins’ has alleged that she was raped by a fellow Liberal staffer in Reynolds’ ministerial office in 2019. The staffer, Bruce Lehrmann, has denied the allegations.


A Canadian judge has ruled that the “thumbs-up” emoji is just as valid as a signature, arguing that courts need to adapt to the “new reality” of how people communicate as he ordered a farmer to pay C$82,000 ($61,442) for an unfulfilled contract, South West Terminal Ltd. v Achter Land, 2023 SKKB 116. The Guardian has more information here.


The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that national competition authorities can determine infringement of the EU GDPR when examining competition cases, Meta Platforms v Bundeskartellamt (Case C-252/21). The judgment relates to Meta’s data collection practices. In its decision, the CJEU determined Meta “cannot justify, as a legitimate interest,” data processing for personalised advertising “in the absence of the data subject’s consent.” Read the CJEU press release here. Read the Panopticon Blog summary and analysis here.


Russian authorities have deployed technologies to track the online lives of citizens and conduct surveillance to counter criticism of the war. Some tools use simple phone and website tracking while others break encrypted services provided by WhatsApp and Signal to keep tabs on individuals. The New York Times has more information here.


Sweden’s justice minister has said his government may be open to amending a protest law to ban Quran burning, after the public burning of a Quran in Stockholm last month sparked fury across the Muslim world. The international reaction resulted in condemnation from the governments of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Morocco recalled its ambassador, and in Baghdad, a crowd of protesters assembled at the Swedish embassy and entered its compound before being dispersed by security forces. Sweden’s announcement has raised concerns over freedom of expression. EuroNews, APNews, BBC, Reuters and AlJazeera have more information.

United States

The Even Law Blog considers whether human-edited AI-created work means joint author between person and AI under US copyright law. Read the full article here.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts 

On Monday 10 July 2023, the preliminary issues trial in the case of Harcombe v Associated Newspapers will continue before Nicklin J.  The case is listed to concluded on Tuesday 11 July 2023.

On 11 or 12 July 2023, the Court of Appeal will hear the appeal in the harassment case of Smith v Backhouse.

On  Tuesday 11 July 2023 there will be a hearing in the Haverfordwest District Registry case of Gammon v Riley.

On  Wednesday 12 July 2023 there will be hearings in the cases of Food Hub Limited v Persons unknown owning or controlling the Youtube account entitled ‘Fraudhub’ and Kassai v Tabarra.

On Thursday 13 July 2023 there will be a hearing in the harassment case of McGee v Lewis

On Friday 14 July 2023 there will be a hearing in the case of Ibrahim v Kennedy.

Reserved Judgments

Dyson v Channel 4, heard on 27 June 2023 (Dingemans, Birss and Warby LJJ)

Clarke v Rose, heard on 19 and 20 June 2023 (Steyn J)

YSL v Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, heard 14-15 June 2023 (Julian Knowles J)

Wright v McCormack, heard 15 June 2023 (Singh, Andrews and Warby LJJ)

Brachers LLP and another v Lingard, heard 16 June 2023 (judge) 

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)

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 Colette Allen who is the host of Newscast on Dr Thomas Bennett and Professor Paul Wragg’s The Media Law Podcast (@MediaLawPodcast).