On 10 November 2023, Nicklin J dismissed Associated Newspaper Ltd’s (ANL) application for summary judgement against seven claimants bringing misuse of private information proceedings against the publisher of The Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, and the MailOnline website, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon & Ors v Associated Newspapers Ltd  EWHC 2789 (KB). Nicklin J concluded “without difficulty” that each claimant had a real prospect of overcoming any limitation defence relied upon by the publisher.
The seven claimants bringing proceedings are: Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE; Elizabeth Hurley; Sir Elton John CH CBE; David Furnish; Sir Simon Hughes; Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex; and Sadie Frost Law. ANL’s restriction order application succeeded on one of the grounds advanced, namely that documents used by the claimants were subject to a Leveson Inquiry restriction order imposed in November 2012. Temporary reporting restrictions sought by ANL and granted at the March hearing remain in force, and are to be reconsidered at a hearing on 21 November. The 5RB summary can be read here and here. Doughty Street’s summary can be read here. The Press Gazette, Inforrm, Hacked Off, Reuters, The Guardian and Sky News are some of the many to cover the ruling.
Suspended Labour MP Andy McDonald has threatened libel proceedings against the Conservative MP Chris Clarkson, who accused him of “seeking to justify the murderous actions of Hamas” in the Israel-Hamas conflict. In his speech to a mass rally on 28 October 2023, McDonald called for peace in the Israel-Gaza war and in particular for an immediate comprehensively-binding ceasefire. He said: ‘We will not rest until we have justice. Until all people, Israelis and Palestinians, between the river and the sea, can live in peaceful liberty.’ In a statement, McDonald said “Mr Clarkson’s statement is highly defamatory and caused serious harm to my reputation.” The Guardian and Sky News have more information
The Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley defied calls for a ban on a pro-Palestinian march through London on Armistice Day as he insisted on the independence of his force amid intense government pressure to act. Suella Braverman has been accused of “sowing the seeds of hatred” by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer after her comments about the police and pro-Palestinian marches.
The King’s Speech was delivered by the King on 7 November 2023, announcing the Government’s plans to abolish section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. Section 40 would encourage newspapers to become independently regulated and help protect regulated newspapers from “SLAPPs” (strategic lawsuits against public participation). Notwithstanding potential opposition to the plan in the House of Lords, abolition of Section 40 could spell the formal end of the state-backed press regulation system envisaged by the Leveson report. Read Hacked Off’s response to the proposed repeal here. Read the Media Coalition Blog’s response here.
The speech also announced Parliament’s intention to reintroduce the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (No. 2). Some provisions would allow businesses to protect personal data in more “proportionate and practical ways” compared to EU GDPR requirements. The bill would also clarify rules for the use of machine-learning technologies and personal data for scientific research.
Internet and Social Media
Privacy International has published new research into UK Members of Parliament’s knowledge on the use of Facial Recognition Technology in public spaces. Read the research published here in full: “MPs Asleep at the Wheel as Facial Recognition Technology Spells The End of Privacy in Public”. The Press Release can be read here.
- 14278-23 Booley v express.co.uk, 2 Privacy (2021), 1 Accuracy (2021), 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 14281-23 Booley v derbytelegraph.co.uk, 2 Privacy (2021), 1 Accuracy (2021), 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 14282-23 Booley v Sunday Mirror, 2 Privacy (2021), 1 Accuracy (2021), 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 14284-23 Booley v mylondon.news, 2 Privacy (2021), 1 Accuracy (2021), 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 14285-23 Booley v nottinghampost.com, 2 Privacy (2021), 1 Accuracy (2021), 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 14289-23 Booley v dailystar.co.uk, 2 Privacy (2021), 1 Accuracy (2021), 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 14297-23 Booley v walesonline.co.uk, 2 Privacy (2021), 1 Accuracy (2021), 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 16633-23 NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde v Sunday Mail, 1 Accuracy (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 16741-23 Cunningham v dailyrecord.co.uk, 11 Victims of sexual assault (2021), 1 Accuracy (2021), 2 Privacy (2021), 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2021), 5 Reporting suicide (2021)
- 18586-23 Longthorpe v Daily Mail, 12 Discrimination (2021), 3 Harassment (2021), 2 Privacy (2021), 1 Accuracy (2021)
- 19361-23 Longthorpe v Mail Online, 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge (2021), 3 Harassment (2021), 2 Privacy (2021), 1 Accuracy (2021)
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
On 6 November 2023 there was a statement in open court [pdf] in the case of Packham v Fieldsports Channel Ltd. There was a press release from the claimant’s solicitors, Leigh Day and a report on the Raptor Persecution UK website.
The Conservative deputy chair Lee Anderson has apologised to a doctor after he made a “misleading” social media post about him. The MP for Ashfield offered his “sincerest apologies” to Dr Tom Dolphin for “any distress caused” by his post on X, formerly known as Twitter, which falsely implied Dr Dolphin had billed for a strike day. Anderson has agreed to pay £1,870 to the British Medical Association’s (BMA) strike fund to “compensate the upset I may have caused”. The Guardian has more information here.
The ICO has issued its apology to Dame Alison Rose following an investigation into a complaint from Nigel Farage. The ICO’s investigation was solely into NatWest’s actions as a data controller, not Dame Rose as the former CEO of NatWest Group.
New Issued Cases
There were three defamation (libel and slander) and one Miscellaneous claim(s) filed on the media and communication list in the last week.
Last Week in the Courts
On Monday 6 November 2023, there was a statement in open court in the case of Packham v Fieldsports Channel & O’Rourke KB-2023-000965.
On the same day, there was a hearing of preliminary issues before Griffiths J in the case of Alam v Guardian News & Media Limited KB-2023-000955.
On Tuesday 7 November 2023, there was a hearing in the case of Bell v Department of Work and Pensions QB-2022-001436.
On Wednesday 8 November 2023, there was a remote hearing in the case of Blake and others v Fox QB-2021-001248.
On the same day, Mrs Justice Collins Rice dismissed libel claims brought by Daniel Miller and Nina Power in respect of sixteen tweets and the content warning on an archive published by the artist Luke Turner. The counterclaim for harassment brought by Mr Turner was also dismissed, Miller & Anor v Turner  EWHC 2799 (KB). The claimants had not shown that the publication had caused (or were likely to cause) serious harm, as required by Section 1 Defamation Act 2013. 5RB has a summary here.
On Thursday 9 November 2023, there was a hearing in the case of Mincione v GEDI Gruppo Editoriale S.p.A QB-2020-004499.
On Friday 10 November 2023, there was a hearing in the misuse of private information case of Pearson and others v Harpin KB-2023-004119.
As mentioned above, on the same day Nicklin J dismissed Associated Newspaper Ltd’s application for summary judgment against the seven claimants bringing misuse of private information proceedings.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Queensland Labour MP Don Brown has settled a defamation action by agreeing to a court order that he pay $50,000 in damages to a former LNP candidate over defamatory comments he made about her. ABC News has more information here.
On 8 November 2023, the Court of Appeal for Ontario handed down judgment in Chaudhary v Shadid, 2023 ONCA 743 (CanLII). The appellants commenced an action against the respondent for his role in briefly sharing someone else’s arguably defamatory Facebook post. The respondent successfully brought an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss the defamation action, pursuant to s. 137.1(3) of the Courts of Justice Act 1990. The appellants’ appeal from this ruling was dismissed.
Israel’s parliament has passed an amendment to the country’s counterterrorism law that introduces the “consumption of terrorist materials” as a new criminal offence. Human rights groups in Israel have said it is tantamount to thought policing. Al Jazeera has more information here.
On 7 November 2023, judgment was handed down in O’Neill v Carson (Defamation)  NIMaster 9 by Master Bell following a default judgment awarded to the plaintiff on 13 December 2022. Ex-DUP councillor Michelle O’Neill is to receive no award of damages for a former DUP councillor saying she will be “put back in her kennel.” While Master Bell ultimately concluded that Ms O’Neill’s reputation has not been damaged and that no award of damages should be made, he caveated by explaining the “very real price” Carson had paid “for his stupid and offensive remark.” Carson was to pay his own costs. Master Bell further noted “the remark has cost him the respect of many, if not all, of the women in Northern Ireland” and his political career and reputation . The Belfast Telegraph has more information here.
US actors’ union SAG-AFTRA has now agreed a “tentative deal” with Hollywood studio bosses, with picket locations now officially closed. A statement from the union said it has achieved a deal of “extraordinary scope,” including protection from the threat of artificial intelligence and “unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation”. The national SAG-AFTRA board is set to review the agreement before details are released and the guild’s full membership takes a vote. Sky News, The Guardian, AP News and The Hollywood Reporter have more information.
Research and Resources
- Citron, Danielle Keats, From Bad to Worse: Cyber Stalking, Threats, and Speech (2023), Supreme Court Review, forthcoming, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2023-72
- Gerke, Sara and Rezaeikhonakdar, Delaram, Privacy Shield 2.0 — A New Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework Between the European Union and the United States (2023), Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 45(2)
- Dellinger, Jolynn and Pell, Stephanie K., Bodies of Evidence: The Criminalization of Abortion and Surveillance of Women in a Post-Dobbs World (2023), 19 Duke J. Const. L. & Pub. Pol’Y (Forthcoming)
- Diab, Robert, ‘Must the Police Refuse to Look?’ Resolving the Emerging Conflict in Search and Seizure Over Civilian Disclosure of Digital Evidence (2023), McGill Law Journal, Forthcoming
- Hogendoorn, K.M., Online Child Sexual Abuse: Protecting All Children’s Human Rights Pro-actively (2023), Utrecht University, School of Law
Next Week in the Courts
On Monday 13 November 2023 Deputy Judge Alegre will give judgment in the misuse of private information case of Pearson v Harpin.
On Wednesday 15 November 2023 there will be a hearing in the injunction claim in Orb X International Ltd -v- Emery KB-2023-004114.
On Thursday 16 November 2023 there will a hearing the defamation case of Mir -v- Hussain KB-2022-004194
Mueen-Uddin v Secretary of State for the Home Department, heard 1 and 2 November 2023 (Supreme Court).
George v Cannell and another, heard 17-18 October 2023 (Supreme Court)
Trump v Orbis Intelligence, head 16 October 2023 (Steyn J)
Harcombe v Associated Newspapers, heard 3 to 7 and 10 to 11 July 2023 (Nicklin J)
YSL v Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, heard 14-15 June 2023 (Julian Knowles J)
Various Claimants v MGN, heard June and July 2023 (Fancourt J)
MBR Acres v FREE THE MBR BEAGLES, heard 24-28 April 2023, 2-5, 9, 11-12, 15, 17-18, 22-23 May 2023 (Nicklin J)
Duke of Sussex v Associated Newspapers Limited, heard 17 March 2023 (Nicklin 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).