Monday, 29 December 2014

Government favoured Rupert Murdoch's media empire, says outgoing Ofcom chief

Government favoured Rupert Murdoch's media empire, says outgoing Ofcom chief - Press - Media - The Independent: "He said he felt vindicated by court rulings in the regulator’s favour and said Ofcom was right to press for greater consumer choice in the pay-TV sector, including changes to the terms on which Sky shares its sports content with other companies.

“What we set out to do was promote competition in the context of what was then a highly concentrated market and I think we have achieved that. I think there is now more choice, more competition and more retail innovation.”

He claimed that the litigation system was “out of kilter” and allowed large companies to exploit their financial and legal muscle to challenge Ofcom rulings.

“It’s a bit too easy to appeal the decisions, it’s a bit too easy to delay the effective decisions, a bit too easy for very large companies to throw money at litigation as a tactic, and I think that skews things against smaller companies,” he said." 'via Blog this'

Friday, 19 December 2014

Press Recognition Panel: Please tell us what you think

Press Recognition PanelPlease tell us what you think:

"We intend to adopt firm policies on them at our meeting on 27 February 2015 having taken into account the comments which we receive in the meantime.

If you have comments on any of these interim/proposed policies/procedures, then please email us by Friday 13 February 2015.

Please tell us if you agree with what we propose. If you disagree, then please tell us how you think we should do things differently.

We welcome comments from all individuals and organisations (including media organisations, campaign groups, and public bodies).

As part of our general commitment to proceeding in an open and transparent way, we will generally publish all the comments that we receive." 'via Blog this'

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Tom Watson MP, Second Annual Leveson Lecture; Unfinished Business

News: Tom Watson MP, Second Annual Leveson Lecture; Unfinished Business – Tamsin Turk | Inforrm's Blog: "Areas for future parliamentary consideration: Tom Watson identified four main areas:

All political parties to comply with the Leveson recommendations concerning their members’ contact with senior journalists, editors and proprietors.

Ensure real plurality in the British news media with no market dominance that denies the public that plurality.

Protect the freedoms that true public interest journalism requires to promote democracy. For example, safeguarding the European Convention on Human Rights, amending the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (to safeguard journalists’ sources as per the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) and bolster obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for more timely disclosure of information.

Fulfill assurances given to victims concerning press self-regulation, including manifesto commitment to take action on any ‘Failure Report’ produced by the Press Recognition Panel.

In conclusion, Tom Watson called for editors and proprietors to take note of public opinion. He said that standards of British journalism would be restored and that

“…as Lord Justice Leveson showed, this can and will be done while at the same time freedom of expression in this country is enhanced.”" 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

NYC cinema overrules MPAA rating for Snowden documentary

NYC theater overrules MPAA rating for Snowden documentary - Boing Boing: "Citizenfour, the acclaimed Laura Poitras documentary about Edward Snowden, has been given an R rating by the notoriously corrupt and opaque MPAA ratings board (see This Film Is Not Yet Rated).

The IFC Center theater in New York City isn't having any of it, and has posted a notice inviting high-school age patrons to come, especially those who might vote in the next election." 'via Blog this'

Case Comment: Sugar (Deceased) v BBC & Anor [2012] UKSC 4

Case Comment: Sugar (Deceased) v BBC & Anor [2012] UKSC 4 – UKSCBlog: "This case results from a freedom of information request made by Stephen Sugar (a London solicitor who is now deceased) in respect of the Balen Report, a report commissioned by the BBC into its own news coverage of the Middle East. The BBC refused to comply with the request, relying on the exception set out at Schedule 1 of the Act which states that the BBC is only compelled to disclose information “held for purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature”.

It was the BBC’s position that the Balen Report had been produced for the purpose of reviewing the journalistic coverage of Middle East affairs, and consequently fell outside the ambit of the BBC’s freedom of information obligations in accordance with Schedule 1." 'via Blog this'

Ben Emmerson QC: The bête noire of the right wing press with a 'leviathan intellect'

Ben Emmerson QC: The bête noire of the right wing press with a 'leviathan intellect' - Profiles - People - The Independent: " Emmerson laughs at the comparison with the trade union leader and brushes aside the debacle, simply stating that he is “philosophical” and remains a great supporter of the European court.

He is, he explains, troubled by the fact that some politicians seem at loggerheads with the ECHR, which despite finding in Britain's favour in most cases, has rattled cages back home by defying the UK on such high profile matters at Abu Qatada's deportation and the voting rights of prisoners.

“The European court has been, since its establishment, the most effective standard setting institution for human rights in the world, albeit in a limited geographical region. With the expansion of the Council of Europe to encompass many of the states of the former Soviet Union, its jurisdiction now covers 800 million people and extends across areas that are conflict torn,” he says, insisting that it’s Euros 60 million budget needs to be boosted.

 “It has become popular for UK government ministers to make public attacks on the judiciary about decisions they don't like. At the end of the day exaggerated attacks on the legitimacy of the court have the capacity to undermine respect for rule of law,” he warns.

“It is a frightening prospect. Attacks on the independence of the judiciary, once they begin, gain momentum and don't stop at an international level. The Supreme Court (the highest domestic court) still has the respect of the ordinary person in the street but it is a very short step from the type of gratuitous attack we have seen directed towards an international institution to a situation in which right wing politicians and newspapers start pointing guns against the senior independent judiciary of England and Wales.

“Politically motivated attacks on the independent judiciary could cause a real crisis of public confidence" 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Donovan v Gibbons: YouTube libel

Donovan v Gibbons: "As the claim was issued after 1 January 2014 it did not fall to be tried with a jury, therefore the issues could be decided by the Judge at an early stage, although, as the majority of the publications complained of took place in 2013 the issues were decided under the common law as it existed prior to the Defamation Act 2013.

 Shortly after the decision the case settled, with the Claimant securing damages, an apology and the payment of her legal costs.

This is another example of the way in which early rulings on meaning, and other issues traditionally the province of the jury, are likely to make libel claims quicker and cheaper." 'via Blog this'

Former Attorney-General destroys government case for Bill of Rights

Dominic Grieve speech at UCL: "I also note the most recent suggestion that a new Bill of Rights could be used to give greater protection to the Press. No detail has been given and I wonder if study has been made of the existing case law. From FT Ltd v UK in 2010 (821/03) on, there is ample authority to show that Article 10 rights are available to protect journalists particularly with reference to their sources. I will be interested to see what else is on offer. In any case it could be offered without any change to the HRA at all.

Indeed looking carefully at the paper my Party has produced on changing our relationship to the ECHR, I am struck by the paucity of concrete examples of Strasbourg mission creep that are identified, to justify a case for change." 'via Blog this'

Speaking extra-judicially - Lord Toulson on Strasbourg influence

Speaking extra-judicially - ICLR: "As in a later case, Kennedy v Information Commissioner [2014] UKSC 20;  [2014] 2 WLR 808, which Lord Toulson also discussed, the court reached its decision on the common law principles of open justice, and not on article 10 of the Human Rights Convention, in order to permit disclosure of documents to the media.  "However,

I am certainly not advocating that the European Convention should be ignored in the development of the common law. The expansion of the action for breach of confidentiality to include a partial law of privacy is a striking example of the Convention leading to a change in the common law which had been widely regarded as defective."  Compare Kaye v Robertson ([1990] EWCA Civ 21) [1991] FSR 62 with Campbell v MGN Ltd [2004] UKHL 22; [2004] 2 AC 457.

The Act only required the courts to “have regard” to Strasbourg decisions, not to “adhere slavishly to every Stasbourg decision even if after careful consideration they believe it to be wrong.”" 'via Blog this'

Social Media Law Conference - Attorney General on free speech online

IBC Legal Conferences’ 8th Annual Social Media Law Conference - Speeches - GOV.UK: "The final guidelines have been in place for over a year now and have been widely well-received. They make it clear that those messages that are not targeting an individual and are being considered solely on the basis that they contravene the criminal law because they are grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false, should be looked at very carefully.

 Prosecutors are required to take account of the context in which messages are posted on social media, particularly the fact that they are often uninhibited, casual and ill thought out and that those who participate know this and expect a certain amount of repartee or ‘give and take’.

 Prosecutors are also required to apply a high threshold when considering whether a case should be prosecuted and this must take account of the fact that a person’s right to freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and encompasses behaviour that offends, shocks or disturbs." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

European Parliament: REPORT on connected TV

Net neutrality in Europe: European Parliament: REPORT on connected TV - A7-0...: REPORT on connected TV - A7-0212/2013 : "Existing ‘Must-carry’ rules need to be supplemented with ‘Must-be-found’ rules. Those content ...

Emily Bell's seminal speech on the relationship between journalism and technology

Emily Bell's seminal speech on the relationship between journalism and technology: It's time to make up or break up - World News Publishing Focus by WAN-IFRA: "Instead of news executives enjoying monthly visits to the Googleplex to play around on the bicycles, they should convene serious forums about archiving, moderation, deletion, censorship, submission of user information to the authorities. These are all critical social issues at the heart of both fields.

 The second unfashionable and unpopular call would be for regulation. In the US President Obama's strong statement on net neutrality took many by surprise but is a welcome intervention. Journalism still has a powerful voice in influencing issues of regulation and it should use both its corporate presence and intellectual capital to surface and interrogate some of the issues we are seeing today.

 And the third and most achievable is report. Report, report, report. Cover technology as a human rights and political issue as if it were Parliament. Maybe even with more verve and clarity - were that possible. It is just as interesting and about ten thousand times more important. The beats of data, privacy and algorithmic accountability currently either don't exist or are inadequately staffed." 'via Blog this'

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Nils Muižnieks: Azerbaijan's reprisals against brave activists and journalists must stop now - Index on Censorship | Index on Censorship

Nils Muižnieks: Azerbaijan's reprisals against brave activists and journalists must stop now - Index on Censorship | Index on Censorship: "Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights reflects on his recent mission to Azerbaijan – one of the most difficult of his tenure" 'via Blog this'

OSCOLA FAQs on online references

Oxford Law :: OSCOLA FAQs:

"Be careful when citing URLs. Studies indicate that 'link rot' or 'reference rot' (which is when the url still works but the content is gone) is a major problem.

In Harvard Public Law Working Paper no 13-42, Jonathan Zittrain, Kendra Alberg and Lawrence Lessig report that more than 70% of links in three Harvard law journals do not produce the information cited. As a solution, they promote, which 'will retrieve and save the contents of a webpage, and return a permanent link'. The system distributes 'Perma caches, architecture, and governance structure to libraries across the world. Thus, so long as any library or successor within the system survives, the links within a Perma architecture will remain'.

The original link can be cited along with the Perma link (which is useful as the reader can immediately see the source without having to follow the link to the Perma site), or the Perma link only can be cited (which has the advantage of being short).

This system is preferable to other short url systems that do not indicate the original website and url, and whose future is less certain. The Digital Object Identifier (doi) system used by some journals is also sound, but not all law journals use the doi system, and many of those that do also publish in hard copy and so do not require an electronic reference in OSCOLA.

In general, only include the web address when the document is only available online, when the web address is particularly helpful for finding the document, and when the web address is static (ie not the result of a search in a database). Avoid citing references that end in .pdf. " 'via Blog this'

The Sun keeps explosive and unprintable stories in 'wild West-style safe'

The Sun keeps explosive and unprintable stories in 'wild West-style safe' - Telegraph: "The tabloid's former deputy news editor Ben O'Driscoll, 38, said more than 30 years of unpublished stories were stored in the 7ft high safe.
He told Kingston Crown Court the paper kept hold of "eye-popping" reports, pictures, and videos which had not made the paper because they were not in the public interest.

"At the time I was there, there was an enormous safe, about 7ft high, like something out of a Wild West film, with big metal handles", he said. "It was full of 30 years of stories that are confidential and did not pass the public interest test." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

TV Licensing - Live TV and how you watch it

TV Licensing - Live TV and how you watch it: "If the programme is being shown on live TV, you need a TV Licence to watch or record it. If the device or technology you’re using to watch the programme causes a delay between when the programme was shown and when you watch it, you’re still receiving live TV.

‘Live TV’ means any programme you watch or record at the same time as it’s being shown on TV or an online TV service.
If you only ever watch ‘on demand’ programmes, you don’t need a TV Licence.

On demand includes catch-up TV, streaming or downloading programmes after they’ve been shown on live TV, or programmes available online before being shown on TV." 'via Blog this'

Ion Cârstea v. Romania, Breach of positive obligation to protect the right to reputation

Case Law, Strasbourg: Ion Cârstea v. Romania, Breach of positive obligation to protect the right to reputation – Hugh Tomlinson QC | Inforrm's Blog: "In relation to the question of whether the applicant was a “public figure”, the Court said:

“The role or function of the person concerned and the nature of the activities that form the subject matter of the article constitute another important criterion, which relates to the previous one. In this connection, the Court has previously held that a fundamental distinction needs to be made between reporting factual matters capable of contributing to a debate in a democratic society, such as those relating to politicians in the exercise of their official functions, and reporting details of the private life of an individual who does not exercise such functions, with the sole aim of satisfying public curiosity … In the latter case, freedom of expression calls for a narrower interpretation” [36]

In the present case the applicant was a university professor unknown to a wider public." 'via Blog this'

ITV eyed deal with Ant and Dec

ITV eyes deal with BBC star Graham Norton's production outfit | Media | The Observer: "ITV is exploring a tie-up with the production company owned by two of its biggest stars, Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly... as ITV looks at investment options to boost its in-house production arm, ITV Studios.

The broadcaster is said to be looking at buying a stake in one or both of the companies, or buying them outright.

"They were very close to reaching a deal a while back. The talks have been going on for at least six months," said a source familiar with the negotiations. "There are talks with other companies going on but these are the main ones."

Gallowgate, founded in 2004 as a vehicle to produce Ant and Dec shows including ITV1 hit Saturday Night Takeaway, is rather closer to home. It also produces Vernon Kay's ITV1 quiz Beat The Star. The company made a loss of £358,000 in the year to 31 March 2010, according to abbreviated accounts filed at Companies House." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

How the law works in the real world... one unique insight!

Our Events : News and events : Careers and Employability Centre : Schools and services : University of Sussex: "Tim Morris is a senior Corporate lawyer and advisor to one of the UK's most successful entrepreneurs, Charles Dunstone, across an expansive and impressive range of business ventures. Fresh from advising on the recent £3.6 billion merger of Carphone Warehouse and Dixons (the owner of Currys and PC World), Tim has a wealth of legal and business experience. His day-to-day business matters include advising on IPO's, joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions, negotiating commercial deals worth billions of dollars across a number of key jurisdictions including Europe, United States and China, through to managing litigation and the resolution of business disputes.

He has held the unique position of General Counsel and Company Secretary to two FTSE 250 companies simultaneously, Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk. Tim has also been awarded in-house lawyer of the year at The Lawyer Awards." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 24 November 2014

Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 No.2916

ATVOD Watch: Latest: "The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 Laid before Parliament on 6th November 2014

Coming into force on 1st December 2014.

Amendment of section 368E of the 2003 Act (harmful material) ." See also Explanatory Memorandum - they add credit card verification across a range of areas. 'via Blog this'

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Welcome back, Andy Coulson. Let me tell you about life after prison

Welcome back, Andy Coulson. Let me tell you about life after prison | Denis MacShane | Comment is free | The Guardian:

"Everyone in the political-media world knows that far from you being the only editor or journalist who took part in hacking and invasion of privacy, there are loads who did and nothing happened to them, just as I can name MPs and ministers today who fiddled the expenses system for personal profit – something no one accused me of – and who escaped without a mark on their character.

 So you will ask yourself, as I did: “Why me?” All I can say is that life happens. If I hear another senior judge friend tell me that what they and the CPS do has nothing to do with justice or truth but is about social order, I will yawn, but the plain fact is that this weird thing called society or public opinion needed some to be punished after the double scandal of MPs’ expenses and phone hacking." 'via Blog this'

Thursday, 20 November 2014

James Murdoch faces protest vote against Sky board role

James Murdoch faces protest vote against Sky board role | Business | The Guardian:

"His father Rupert controls 39% of Sky, which was known as BSkyB until changing its name last week.

“LAPFF has consistently raised concerns about James Murdoch’s role on the BSkyB board since 2011, concerning conflicts of interest and director candidature suitability,” said Kieran Quinn, chair of the LAPFF.

The company said: “James Murdoch has always acted with integrity and competence in his time at Sky. He continues to make a major contribution to the company”

Advisory body Pirc is also recommending a vote against James Murdoch, arguing he cannot be considered to be an independent director as he has sat on the board for more than nine years. Pirc cited a report from Ofcom, the UK communications industries regulator, which criticised his handling of the phone hacking scandal." 'via Blog this'

Russia Today threatened with Ofcom sanctions due to bias

Russia Today threatened with Ofcom sanctions due to bias | Media | The Guardian:

"An Ofcom spokesperson said: “Ofcom has strict rules to protect audiences. If broadcasters break our rules we take swift, robust action.

“Since RT started broadcasting in the UK nine years ago, Ofcom has recorded breaches of the rules on ten occasions covering various issues, ranging from the amount of advertising, to due impartiality and graphic images.

“We have put RT on notice as a result of this breach and if RT breaches our due impartiality rules again we will consider taking further regulatory action, such as imposing a sanction.”" 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Judge Spano, ECtHR: anti-democratic or guardian of fundamental values?

The European Court of Human Rights: anti-democratic or guardian of fundamental values? – Judge Robert Spano | UK Human Rights Blog: "In sum, and this is the most important point, in the discharge of his mandate, it is not the role of the Strasbourg judge to second-guess the reasoned assessment of the national judge on the eventual outcome of a case, dealing with Convention rights that allow for restrictions based on proportionality, so long as the national judge has faithfully applied the general principles of the case-law of the Court to the facts of the case in accordance with the constitutional traditions in his country. I submit that if one carefully analyses recent cases of the Strasbourg Court, for example in Animal Defenders and SAS v. France, the so- called Burqa case, one might see a trend towards a more foreseeable and rational application of the margin of appreciation in line with a more robust concept of subsidiarity inspired by the Brighton Declaration of 2012, adopted under the UK Presidency in the Council of Europe, especially where difficult areas of economic and social policy are concerned. 
To be more precise, this case law has three elements. Firstly, with what may be termed the democratic element, the Court acknowledges that national authorities have “direct democratic legitimation”. 

For a more fully developed analysis of this point, see Robert Spano, Universality or Diversity of Human Rights? Strasbourg in the Age of Subsidiary." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Imposing Costs on Newspaper in Successful Source-Protection Case Did Not Violate Article 10

Imposing Costs on Newspaper in Successful Source-Protection Case Did Not Violate Article 10 | Strasbourg Observers: "As with all admissibility decisions, while we know the Fifth Section’s ruling was “by a majority,” the individual votes are not disclosed, and it is therefore important to explore whether there are any weaknesses in the majority’s reasoning. First, the majority opinion opens with the statement that it “does not consider” the costs ruling as an “interference” with Article 10. But this statement is not really followed up by an explanation, and the Court then proceeds to analyse the case under Article 10; so it is not quite clear how seriously the Court takes its own opening statement. But nonetheless, the statement seems to conflict with the Court’s own case law: take MGN v UK, where a newspaper had violated the Article 8 rights of a public figure, or in other words, had not exercised its freedom of expression in a “legitimate” manner, and yet, the Court considered the costs ruling “interfered” with the newspaper’s right to free expression. And similarly, in Kasabova v Bulgaria, a journalist had criminally defamed a public official, a conclusion the Court agreed with, but then went on to hold that the costs rulings “interfered” with her freedom of expression." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 17 November 2014

BBC iPlayer - Panorama - The Fake Sheikh Exposed

BBC iPlayer - Panorama - The Fake Sheikh Exposed: "The Fake Sheikh Exposed: Panorama's John Sweeney investigates claims that journalist Mazher Mahmood, known as the Fake Sheikh, created crimes and fabricated evidence." 'via Blog this'

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Why the Mark Lewis settlement with the Met is so important

Why the Mark Lewis settlement with the Met is so important | Media | The Guardian: "The case goes back to September 2009, when Lewis gave evidence to the Commons culture and media select committee. He told MPs that there were 6,000 phone-hacking victims, which contradicted the News of the World's single "rogue reporter" defence.

 Two months later, the Press Complaints Commission chair, Lady Buscombe, made a speech to the Society of Editors in which she said that the then Met assistant commissioner, John Yates, had passed her reliable evidence showing that Lewis's statement was incorrect.

 Lewis sued Buscombe, the PCC and the Met on the grounds that he had been accused of lying to parliament and, in so doing, damaged his reputation. In November 2010, Buscombe and the PCC apologised to Lewis and paid him £20,000 in libel damages.

 Following last week's settlement, Lewis said: "The Metropolitan police have spent about £250,000 unsuccessfully defending my claim" 'via Blog this'

Friday, 14 November 2014

From the Human Rights Act to a Bill of Rights? - UK Parliament

From the Human Rights Act to a Bill of Rights? - UK Parliament:

"Replacing the Human Rights Act?

 Some have argued that the HRA does little to protect historic constitutional rights and liberties, such as the right to trial by jury or free speech. The Conservatives have suggested a new Bill of Rights to replace the HRA.  Exactly how this would operate in practice in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights is unclear, though the Conservatives have indicated that they would seek a greater national “margin of appreciation” in how the rights were applied in a domestic context.

While it seems unlikely that the UK would opt out of the European Convention on Human Rights, if the HRA were repealed and the Convention rights were no longer contained in UK law, aggrieved parties might once again have to take their case to the Strasbourg court for determination. Moreover, depending on the funding available (through legal aid or otherwise), parties might find it less easy to bring rights-related proceedings." 'via Blog this'

Privacy and Injunctions - Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions 2012 Report

Privacy and Injunctions - Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions: "We believe that the courts are now striking a better balance between the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression, based on the facts of the individual case (para 32).

A privacy statute 

We believe that any statutory definition of privacy would risk becoming outdated quickly, would not allow for flexibility on a case-by-case basis and would lead to even more litigation over its interpretation. For these reasons we do not recommend one (para 37).

We do not recommend a statute declaring in broad terms the right to privacy. We disagree with criticisms that privacy law has been "judge made" and does not have parliamentary authority; it has evolved from the Human Rights Act 1998 (para 41).

Determining the public interest in private lives

We do not recommend a statutory definition of the public interest, as the decision of where the public interest lies in a particular case is a matter of judgment, and is best taken by the courts in privacy cases. As an alternative, we expect the reformed media regulator, in conjunction with other regulators, to publish clear guidelines as to what constitutes the public interest, and to update them where necessary (para 50).

We do not think that section 12(4) of the Human Rights Act 1998, in requiring the courts to "have particular regard to the importance of the Convention right to freedom of expression" when considering whether to grant any relief, means that article 10 has precedence over article 8. The practical effect of the claimant satisfying section 12(3) (see below) means that article 8 does not have precedence over article 10." 'via Blog this'

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Last gasp of the super-injunction?

Last gasp of the super-injunction - RPC Privacy Law: "The MOD recognises that the statistics are not complete and do not cover every application which falls within the subject.
It is nonetheless surprising that the figures reveal that every application for a new interim privacy injunction since August 2011 has resulted in an injunction being granted.
That said, it does seem clear that super-injunctions are almost extinct. The last interim super-injunction that was granted was in 2011.
Other derogations from open justice, or combinations of them, are being deployed frequently by the courts. 64% of applications for new interim privacy injunctions were heard in private, party anonymity was ordered in 50% and access to statements of case by non-parties restricted in 86% of cases." 'via Blog this'

Note: In 2014, there were zero applications in the first 6 months for a privacy injunction.

Ministry of Justice Report on Privacy Injunctions 2013

This bulletin presents statistics on privacy injunctions dealt with at hearings at the High Court or Court of Appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice (RCJ) in London during the period January to June 2013. It is the fourth bulletin in the series and includes comparison figures for the periods August to December 2011, January to June 2012 and July to December 2012 as presented in the first three bulletins. 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Panorama alleges that ‘fake sheikh’ tricked people into criminal acts

Panorama alleges that ‘fake sheikh’ tricked people into criminal acts | Media | The Guardian: "Steve Grayson, who worked with Mahmood on numerous stories in the 1990s including this one, said of the takedown: “He is a drug dealer, we’re drug dealers, we have paid this guy to supply the drugs to give to her.”

Billy told Panorama: “I’d like to apologise to Emma for my part in stitching her up. The only real criminal was Mazher Mahmood. He gave me the money to buy the cocaine.”" 'via Blog this'

Did 'Fake Sheikh' Mazher Mahmood mislead Leveson about the Dark Arts of his Past?

Did Mazher Mahmood mislead Leveson about the Dark Arts of his Past? – Peter Jukes | Inforrm's Blog: "The ‘particular firm’ Mahmood mentions, used regularly by News of the World executives Greg Miskiw and Alex Marunchak, was none other than Southern Investigations.Last year a senior police officer told me  that Southern Investigations’ relationship with News of the World,”“was without question the maternity ward where the Dark Arts were born.”" 'via Blog this'

BOWMAN v. THE UNITED KINGDOM - 24839/94 [1998] ECHR 4

BOWMAN v. THE UNITED KINGDOM - 24839/94 [1998] ECHR 4 (19 February 1998): Bowman tested the 1983 Act in respect of a £5 limit on electoral candidate expenditure in constituencies, held by the majority to infringe Article 10 but a notable dissenting minority claimed that::

"the restriction in question is part of an overall democratic electoral system with checks and balances that aim at preventing evasion of the maximum limits of expenditure. It offers equality of arms as between candidates; it protects candidates from manipulation by pressure groups – hence the preference of such groups for action in constituencies with marginal results – and safeguards their independence; it does not prohibit the spending of money for the promotion of a cause if done without the intention of promoting the interests, or harming the prospects, of a particular candidate; it counterbalances the limit imposed on candidates; it is limited in terms of time. To our minds the aforesaid reasons adduced by the respondent Government to justify the restriction in question are “relevant and sufficient”." 'via Blog this'

Case Law: Various Claimants v MGN, Judge orders Mirror Group to give phone hacking “generic disclosure”

Case Law: Various Claimants v MGN, Judge orders Mirror Group to give phone hacking “generic disclosure” | Inforrm's Blog: "On 28 October 2014.  Mr Justice Mann, the judge managing the Mirror Group phone hacking litigation, handed down a judgment dealing with the disclosure being sought by the claimants from MGN (Various Claimants v MGN [2014] EWHC 3655 (Ch)).

He ordered MGN to give “generic disclosure” in relation to phone hacking – that is documents going to the general practices of phone hacking at Mirror Group newspapers.

The claims have been brought by a number of individuals in respect of phone hacking and allied wrongs said to have been committed by newspapers.  Eight or nine cases are to be tried in February 2015 as test cases.

 The pleaded cases fall into two parts.  First there is “claimant specific” information which is said to demonstrate that a particular claimant was phone hacking. Secondly, there is material relied on which is described as “generic”." 'via Blog this'

IPSO chair’s speech to Society of Editors does not bode well for self-regulator

IPSO chair’s speech to Society of Editors does not bode well for self-regulator – Brian Cathcart | Inforrm's Blog: "Leveson, having carefully weighed evidence from all the relevant parties, made 38 recommendations for what he said would be an effective, independent self-regulator worthy of the public trust. According to an external analysis published over a year ago and still unrebutted by Moses or the industry, Ipso complies with just 12 of them. Simplification will not bridge that gulf. Simplification will not make Ipso acceptable to the public. 

Moses spoke in passing of the “eye-watering difficulty” of applying a press code of practice, a difficulty which arose because many cases involved judgements as to what was in the public interest. And, he said, “no one has defined what that means”.

Really? The code of practice Moses has inherited from the Press Complaints Commission defines the public interest. So do the codes at Ofcom and the BBC. And the Crown Prosecution Service has also published a definition. It is the job of a regulator such as Moses to interpret such a definition, and no doubt that can be difficult, but it is simply wrong to say there is no definition." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Society of Editors Conference 2014 - Ministerial pre-election speech

Society of Editors Conference 2014 - Speeches - GOV.UK: "In the summer of 1949, the horrors of the Nazi regime were still fresh in our minds.

The world was looking on helplessly as Stalin tightened his grip on Eastern Europe.

And in that atmosphere, David Maxwell-Fyfe led the drafting of what he called “a beacon to the peoples behind the Iron Curtain” – The European Convention on Human Rights.

Maxwell-Fyfe’s goals were noble. But today, they stand corrupted.

Article Eight, protecting the right to privacy, was created to fend off the threat of secret police conducting arbitrary searches for totalitarian regimes.

But in 2014 it is little more than an excuse for well-paid lawyers to hide the shady pasts of wealthy businessmen and the sexual indiscretions of sporting celebrities.

That people are being allowed to do so in the name of human rights shows how far from Maxwell-Fyfe’s intentions the idea has drifted." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 3 November 2014

The United Kingdom in Strasbourg – all the Article 10 judgments

The United Kingdom in Strasbourg – all the Article 10 judgments | Inforrm's Blog: "Following a request on Twitter by Adam Wagner of the “UK Human Rights Blog” for a breakdown down of the cases by category he had two responses.   There is a Word document from University of Law’s Trevor Jackson and an Excel spreadsheet from David Charlton.

There are twenty two cases listed over a period of nearly 40 years.  The United Kingdom was found to be in breach of Article 10 in eleven of them – that is 50% success rate." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

ObscenityLawyer: Tiger Porn Victim Bites Back

ObscenityLawyer: Tiger Porn Victim Bites Back: "In the years since S63(7) of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 was enacted there have been over 5,500 prosecutions for possession offences. Prior to the introduction of the legislation Ministers said there would merely be a handful of cases each year, and the Regulatory Impact Assessment predicted just 30 per annum.

Of great concern is that over the five years since enactment of the legislation the public, law enforcement agencies and the judiciary remain either oblivious or uncertain as to the precise meaning of at least two, and possibly all four, categories of the legislation. The Simon Walsh trial showed that CPS had sought to widen the meaning of Section 63(7)(b), seeking to prosecute for possession of images that depicted unconventional but not dangerous behaviour. The Andrew Holland (“Tiger porn”) case (Section 63(7)(d)) showed that harmless but crude jokes could also result in prosecution." 'via Blog this'

Erdogan cartoons: how artists responded to case against a Turkish colleague

Erdogan cartoons: how artists responded to case against a Turkish colleague - Index on Censorship | Index on Censorship: "Erdogan himself filed the complaint against Kart over a cartoon published in the daily Cumhuriyet on 1 February 2014 showing the then prime minister as a hologram watching over a robbery. This was a reference to his alleged involvement covering up a high-profile graft scandal.

 Erdogan claimed Kart was guilty of “insulting through publication and slander,” reports Today Zaman. And while the court initially ruled that there were no legal grounds for action, this decision was revoked following complaints from Erdogan’s lawyer. Kart was also fined in 2005 for drawing Erdogan as a cat. 

In court on Thursday, Kart stated: “Yes, I drew it [the cartoon] but I did not mean to insult. I just wanted to show the facts. Indeed, I think that we are inside a cartoon right now. Because I am in the suspect’s seat while charges were dropped against all the suspects [involved in two major graft scandals]. I need to say that this is funny.”

 He was finally acquitted, but many of his fellow cartoonists has already shared their artistic interpretations of Erdogan and the case." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 27 October 2014

Met conducted 38 press leak investigations in five years - RIPA used in 'vast majority'

Met conducted 38 press leak investigations in five years - RIPA used in 'vast majority', says source | Press Gazette: "Last month the Met admitted to secretly obtaining the phone records of The Sun newsdesk and political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, in order to find the source of the paper's Plebgate story. The action - first revealed by Press Gazette - has been widely criticised and prompted the Home Affairs Select Committee and Interception of Communications Commissioner's Office to launch inquiries. The Home Office has promised new protections for journalists in a revised RIPA code of practice and today the Liberal Democrats tabled a change in the law to make police forces obtain the approval of a judge for RIPA requests involving journalistic material.

The Plebgate probe and other leak investigations are conducted by the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS)." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Miranda v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Ors [2014] EWHC 255 (Admin)

Miranda v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Ors [2014] EWHC 255 (Admin) (19 February 2014): "Telegraaf Media Nederland Landelijke Media BV v Netherlands (2012) 34 BHRC 193 concerned the targeted surveillance of journalists with a view to obtaining knowledge of their sources. There was no prior review by an independent body; post factum review could not "restore the confidentiality of journalistic sources once it is destroyed" (paragraph 101). "The Court thus finds that the law did not provide safeguards appropriate to the use of powers of surveillance against journalists with a view to discovering their journalistic sources. There has therefore been a violation of Articles 8 and 10 of the Convention" (paragraph 102).

Nagla v Latvia [2013] ECHR 688 concerned the execution of a search warrant at a journalist's home; the search warrant was retrospectively approved by an investigating judge. At paragraph 90 the court stated:

"The Court notes that unlike in the Sanoma Uitgevers case, the investigating judge has the authority under Latvian law to revoke the search warrant and to declare such evidence inadmissible… Moreover… the investigating judge also has the power to withhold the disclosure of the identity of journalistic sources… The Court considers that the last two elements pertaining to the investigating judge's involvement in an immediate post factum review are sufficient to differentiate this case from the above-mentioned Sanoma Uitgevers case (see also Telegraaf Media… where a similar distinction was made). The Court, therefore, does not deem it necessary to examine the Government's submissions concerning the role of the supervising prosecutor in authorising searches under the urgent procedure."
The Coalition Interveners lay emphasis on the fact that the judge reviewing the case "under the urgent procedure on the day following the search" (paragraph 89) was in a position to prevent disclosure of the journalist's source before any use was made of it." 'via Blog this'

Perinçek v. Switzerland App. no. 27510/08, 17th December 2013 - genocide denial

Perinçek v. Switzerland App. no. 27510/08, 17th December 2013 (Jacob, White, Ovey): The Court found that as the Armenian genocide was still open to historical interpretation, the comments by the applicant that calling the Armenian massacres “genocide” was an international lie did not incite hatred or violence. Note that the Court distinguished this case from holocaust denial. “The Court thus doubted that there could be a general consensus as to events such as those in issue here, given that historical research was by definition open to discussion and a matter of debate, without necessarily giving rise to final conclusions or to the assertion of objective and absolute truths. In this connection, the Court clearly distinguished the present case from those concerning the negation of the crimes of the Holocaust. In those cases, the applicants had denied the historical facts even though they were sometimes very concrete, such as the existence of the gas chambers. They had denied the crimes perpetrated by the Nazi regime for which there had been a clear legal basis. Lastly, the acts that they had called into question had been found by an international court to be clearly established.” (p3, press release) 'via Blog this'

Putistin v Ukraine App No. 16882/03, 21 November 2013 - Article 8 reputation for dead?

Putistin v Ukraine App No. 16882/03, 21 November 2013 (from Jacob, White and Ovey): The applicant is the son of a former Dynamo Kyiv football player who took part in a game known as the “Death Match” in 1942. His father is deceased. The game was played between a team which included professional players from Dynamo Kyiv and a team of Germans. The German team was defeated. Allegedly as a result of their victory, the Dynamo Kyiv team suffered reprisals with a number of Ukrainian players sent to a local concentration camp, where four were executed. In 2001 a newspaper published an article entitled: “The Truth about the Death Match”. The article included a quotation from the producer of a film about the match, who stated that there were only four players who had been executed, and that other players had “collaborated with the Gestapo”. The applicant claimed that it suggested that his father had collaborated with the Gestapo.
The Court accepted that the reputation of a deceased member of a person’s family might, in certain circumstances, affect that person’s private life and identity, and come within the scope of Article 8. However on the facts, the applicant was not directly affected by the publication and the level of impact on the applicant had been remote. The article had been informative and not provocative or sensationalist. 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Defamation (Operators of Websites) Regulations 2013

The Defamation (Operators of Websites) Regulations 2013: "STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS

2013 No. 3028 The Defamation (Operators of Websites) Regulations 2013

Made 2nd December 2013

The Secretary of State makes the following Regulations in exercise of the powers conferred by section 5 of the Defamation Act 2013(1).

A draft of these Regulations was laid before Parliament in accordance with section 5(9) of that Act and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Games Rating Authority introduced 2012: The Right of Appeal

The Right of Appeal:

"The Video Standards Council is responsible for the age rating of video games for supply in the UK and other countries in accordance with the rules and procedures of the Pan-European Game Information ('PEGI') system.

As regards video games for supply in the UK the VSC (trading as the Games Rating Authority) is also responsible for the granting of classification certificates for video games pursuant to the Video Recordings Act 1984 (as amended) ('VRA').

 Any person who shall disagree with a decision made by the GRA that a video game is not suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it shall have a right of appeal against any such decision. Any such appeal shall be made to the GRA Games Appeals Panel ('GAP') which shall be an independent body set up to deal with any such appeals." 'via Blog this'

Who wants to be forgotten? TechnoLlama

Who wants to be forgotten? | TechnoLlama: "The second big development has been that Google has released its transparency report for European privacy requests for search removals, which makes for some very interesting reading. Google received 146,938 requests and evaluated 498,830 URLs for removal, of which 58% were not removed." Privacy via restricted access to news? 'via Blog this'

Monday, 13 October 2014

London libel ruling against Ethiopian dissident shows urgent need for reform

London libel ruling against Ethiopian dissident shows urgent need for reform | THE FREE SPEECH BLOG: "Mr Al Amoudi, a businessman so keen to preserve his reputation that his Wikipedia entry has been flagged up as inappropriate because it has been edited by people who have a “close connection” with him, has been granted two default judgments against Elias Kifle: a £175,000 award made in 2010, and a £180,000 award made [in 2013].

 Being based in the States and lacking the financial means to hire lawyers, Mr Kifle chose not to defend either of these claims. Last week’s case was allowed to proceed because of Mr Al Amoudi’s business activities and reputation among Ethiopians in London, five of whom gave evidence as having read the piece in question; the fact he is a “frequent visitor” to London; and the fact that Mr Al Amoudi’s children were educated in England. The judge, Mr Justice Eady, does not appear to have considered whether it is even remotely feasible for an Ethiopian journalist exiled in the US and who runs a news website on a shoestring budget to obtain the services of libel defence lawyers." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Third drugs trial involving the Sun's Mazher Mahmood collapses

Third drugs trial involving the Sun's Mazher Mahmood collapses | Media | "The position is that the Crown can no longer rely on Mr Mahmood as a witness of truth in this case, and for that reason, I offer no evidence against Mr Gordon on behalf of the Crown."

Anderson had commitments in France and was unable to appear. But the prosecution said the case against him would formally be dropped at a hearing on 3 October.

 It was McCreath J., when dismissing the case against Contostavlos in July, who ruled that there were "strong grounds" to believe Mahmood had lied to him and had been "manipulating the evidence"" 'via Blog this'

Prosecuting the Media: The DPP’s final guidelines – Alex Bailin QC and Edward Craven

Prosecuting the Media: The DPP’s final guidelines – Alex Bailin QC and Edward Craven | Inforrm's Blog: "The guidelines emphasise the need for “special care” in cases which involve the disclosure of journalists’ sources.

The European Court of Human Rights has highlighted the “potentially chilling effect” on press freedom of the forced disclosure of journalists’ sources (see Goodwin v UK (1996) 22 EHRR 123) and the Grand Chamber in Sanoma Uitgevers BV v The Netherlands [2011] EMLR 4 recently emphasised that source protection “is a cornerstone of freedom of the press, without which sources may be deterred from assisting the press in informing the public on matters of public interest”.

In addition, section 10 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 provides that no court may require a person to disclose the source of information contained in a publication for which they are responsible, unless the court is satisfied that disclosure is necessary in the interests of justice or national security or for the prevention of disorder or crime." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 6 October 2014

Would the paisley pyjamas sting stand up in court?

Would the paisley pyjamas sting stand up in court? | LSE Media Policy Project:

"If the Daily Telegraph had exposed the abuse of parliamentary expenses today, rather than in 2009, it could be prosecuted for purchasing a disc of expense receipts from a public official under either the Data Protection Act or the Bribery Act.

Yet only under the Data Protection Act – which carries much lighter sentences – would the paper have technically been able to mount a public interest defence. 

In some cases involving journalists, this means that the ‘defence of necessity’ has to be used to invoke the public interest indirectly.  QC’s Alex Bailin and Edward Craven have argued that it is unacceptable that these defences have to be brought by the ‘back door’." 'via Blog this'

Three months to save IPSO

Three months to save IPSO – Damian Tambini | Inforrm's Blog: "The newspapers would be well advised to support a stronger IPSO. In time, they may even need to re-assess their position on recognition under the Charter. After all, Parliament has passed the Crime and Courts Act, establishing the legal framework for the Leveson system of press self-regulation to be put into place.

The Act creates a system of incentives: if you fail to join an approved regulatory system, you are likely in due course to be exposed to considerably higher costs and damages in relation to privacy, libel and other legal risks associated with journalism.

As Leveson himself acknowledged, if membership of a self-regulatory body is to confer such privileges on journalists there must be some form of oversight – to ensure the body is not a sham, as many claimed the PCC was. So the Leveson scheme is an ingenious combination of oversight with multiple protections against interference by government.

But the newspapers that support IPSO are not convinced. For them it is the Charter system of recognition that by definition pushes the regulator over the definitional rubicon from self-regulation to government regulation.

Newspapers are also aware that unlike the PCC, IPSO has no monopoly on self-regulation of newspapers.

The Guardian, the FT and the Independent remain outside the tent and IMPRESS; an alternative regulator led by civil society organisations including local news websites, may seek recognition under the Charter. If it is successful, it could trigger the ‘incentives’ (i.e. the end of press protection from damages and costs) under the Crime and Courts Act. Then all newspapers would have to think again." 'via Blog this'

Newspaper Libel and Registration Act 1881: defining newspaper & proprietor

Newspaper Libel and Registration Act 1881:

"The word “newspaper” shall mean any paper containing public news, intelligence, or occurrences, or any remarks or observations therein printed for sale, and published in England or Ireland periodically, or in parts or numbers at intervals not exceeding twenty-six days between the publication of any two such papers, parts, or numbers.

The word “proprietor” shall mean and include as well the sole proprietor of any newspaper, as also in the case of a divided proprietorship the persons who, as partners or otherwise, represent and are responsible for any share or interest in the newspaper as between themselves and the persons in like manner representing or responsible for the other shares or interests therein, and no other person.
'via Blog this'

Gerry McCann attacks ‘disgraceful’ Sunday Times after £55k libel payout

Gerry McCann attacks ‘disgraceful’ Sunday Times after £55k libel payout | Media | The Guardian: "“This is exactly why parliament and Lord Justice Leveson called for truly effective independent self-regulation of newspapers – to protect ordinary members of the public from this sort of abuse. The fact is that most families could not take the financial and legal risk of going to the high court and facing down a big press bully as we have. That is why News UK and the big newspapers have opposed Leveson’s reforms and the arbitration scheme which is a necessary part of it.”

 Carter-Ruck agreed to act on a no-win, no-fee basis, a system threatened by proposed changes to the law. The £55,000 is to be donated to two charities for missing people and sick children.

 The Sunday Times said: “We have agreed a settlement with Mr and Mrs McCann.”

 Much of the industry, with the exception of the Guardian, the Independent and the Financial Times, has set up its own regulatory body, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), which started life three weeks ago.

In the statement, McCann calls Ipso the “latest industry poodle”. The McCanns have been involved in the Hacked Off campaign to tighten press regulation." 'via Blog this'

Friday, 3 October 2014

Sunday Mirror will find it hard to justify its Tory MP honeytrap

Sunday Mirror will find it hard to justify its Tory MP honeytrap | Media | "Now for the flaws. The pictures of the two women featured in the Twitter trap were used without their knowledge or permission. I suspect that could open the door for them to take legal action

Only Tory MPs were targeted. Why was that? Was there a political motive? Again, on what basis did the freelance choose his targets?

Then there is the questionable matter of relying on an unidentified freelance for such an obvious contentious "investigation". That's so unusual for such a high-profile story that I cannot remember a previous instance. It's fine to have confidential sources, but journalists should not have such a privilege.

 Worse still is the use of a freelance as some kind of built-in deniability for what is produced. It was noticeable that in his defence, the Mirror group's editor-in-chief, Lloyd Embley, said it was "not a Mirror sting." But that's semantics.

The Sunday Mirror accepted the story from the freelancer, evidently tested his methodology and his bona fides and then published it. Therefore, to all intents and purposes, it was the paper's sting. It is demeaning for the Mirror to distance itself from the exercise." 'via Blog this'

Conservatives pledge powers to ignore European court of human rights rulings

Conservatives pledge powers to ignore European court of human rights rulings | Politics | The Guardian: "Grieve said: “The suggestion that they can be negotiated with the Council of Europe so that the UK has its own space where it can [take what it wants] while everyone else complies is almost laughable. How can the UK obtain such a status when other countries have signed up to an agreement collectively to implement judgments?” Some ECHR judgments, such as the right to give prisoners the vote, were, he said, mistaken, but the proposals in the Conservative document seemed to “lack any maturity”.

 They also drew a furious response from the Tories’ coalition partners. Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat justice minister, said: “The Conservatives don’t care about the rights of British citizens – they care about losing to Ukip. These plans make no sense: you can’t protect the human rights of Brits and pull out of the system that protects them.

 “Europe’s human rights laws were designed by British lawyers to reflect British values of justice, tolerance and decency. We will not allow the Tories to take away the hard-won human rights of British people when in the UK or anywhere else in Europe.”" 'via Blog this'

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Phone hacking: Trinity Mirror to pay out over 10 claims

Phone hacking: Trinity Mirror to pay out over 10 claims | Media | The Guardian:

"Harris also cited evidence in the recent phone-hacking trial that saw former News of the World editor Andy Coulson found guilty. During the trial Dan Evans, a former reporter at the Murdoch tabloid, gave evidence. Evans was given a suspended sentence in recognition of his co-operation with police and prosecutors, having admitted hacking phones while he worked at the News of the World and his previous employer, the Sunday Mirror.

 Evans had admitted in court in January that he started hacking phones after he was made a staff reporter at the Sunday Mirror and carried out this activity at that title for about “a year and a half”.

Evans described the phone-hacking target list at the Sunday Mirror as containing “lists of celebrities’ voicemail pin numbers” and “celebrity agents’ [voicemail numbers] where you would pick up voicemails left by them”.

He admitted hacking the voicemails of 200 people and listening to about 1,000 voicemails in total.

In a statement, Trinity Mirror “admitted liability to four individuals who had sued MGN for alleged interception of their voicemails many years ago”, before adding: “MGN has apologised to those individuals and agreed to pay compensation. The amount of that compensation will be assessed by the court if it cannot be agreed.”" 'via Blog this'

Trinity Mirror hacking: why its legal director should consider his position

Trinity Mirror hacking: why its legal director should consider his position | Media | "Bailey left Trinity Mirror in June 2012 to be replaced the following September by Simon Fox.

Within a month, he was faced by the filing of four hacking claims by lawyer Mark Lewis.

History had finally caught up with Trinity Mirror and Fox, the new boy, obviously had to rely on the "review" already carried out by Vickers.

Initially, the company denied the legal claims and battled to deny the quartet the right to pursue their claims.

Its problems, and Fox's headache, worsened in March 2013 with the arrest of four of the group's senior journalists, current and past, for alleged phone hacking.

The following month, Fox told the Financial Times the company had not set aside any money to meet potential claims. He was reassured by the "considerable work" undertaken by his board members before he arrived.

By that, he meant the review and the 44 legal declarations by senior staff that they had not engaged in phone hacking.

 Trinity Mirror refused to make life easy for the claimants. In November 2013, it asked the court to throw out two cases and to quash evidence advanced by two more. The judge dismissed the publisher's application.

 Although Fox expected the "cloud hanging over us" to lift, the cloud has got blacker by the month. By July this year, the company revealed it had made a £4m provision to deal with 17 civil hacking claims.

This week we learned it was dealing with many more and, as of today, the high court was told the group is now facing up to 50 claims." 'via Blog this'

Mirror group phone-hacking costs could soar to £12m, court told

Mirror group phone-hacking costs could soar to £12m, court told | UK news | The Guardian: "The judge was told that an “unnamed QC” acting for the claimants wanted £335,250, while two other junior barristers sought £203,750 and £148,000. MGN proposed awarding the QC £215,250 and claimed the proposed use of four barristers was “plainly disproportionate”.

Mr Justice Mann appeared to agree, asking, “Is any of this litigation proportionate? At one level, all these costs are disproportionate for the claims being brought.”

The judge went on to suggest that any victim of phone hacking could expect less than £100,000 in damages – a fraction of the cost of a trial. He said potential damages were “probably less than six figures”. The judge added the only justification for the expense would be “the quasi-public interest” in pursuing the litigation." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, 21 September 2014

President of Supreme Court: Internet challenges privacy laws

On 26 August 2014, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury PSC delivered a speech entitled The Third and Fourth Estates: Judges, Journalists and Open Justice at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club"These developments may make it inevitable that the law on privacy, indeed, the law relating to communications generally, may have to be reconsidered. It undermines the rule of law if laws are unenforceable. There is no doubt that these technological developments give rise to enormous challenges for people involved in the law and people involved in the media." Is he arguing for better enforcement or more privacy?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

No, The Sun, “Euro judges” do not “go against UK in 3 out of 5 cases”. More like 1 in 100

No, The Sun, “Euro judges” do not “go against UK in 3 out of 5 cases”. More like 1 in 100. | UK Human Rights Blog: "I will conclude with a quote from Lord Neuberger’s recent speech on open justice . The President certainly seems to get it when it comes to legal misreporting (hat tip to Shoaib M Khan):

" But just as judges must not abuse their privileges which are accorded to them because of the importance of judicial independence, so should journalists and other communicators not abuse the privileges accorded to them because of the importance of freedom of expression. So, inaccurate and unfair reporting of a judge’s decision in order to make a good story is an abuse of the freedom of expression accorded to the press and it undermines the rule of law." 'via Blog this'

The Sun’s aggressive, then submissive, response to my complaint on its human rights reporting | UK Human Rights Blog

The Sun’s aggressive, then submissive, response to my complaint on its human rights reporting | UK Human Rights Blog: "But what I found most interesting about the process, which was started by the Press Complaints Commission and concluded by its post-Leveson successor, the Indepenndent Press Standards Orgaisation (IPSO), was the initial response to my complaint (PDF here) by The Sun’s Ombudsman, Philippa Kennedy OBE, which I thought was needlessly aggressive and demonstrates a worrying approach to this issue." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 15 September 2014

Europe, EEA, EU, EFTA, Council of Europe - countries - Venn diagram

Kuan0 - Europe, EEA, EU, EFTA, Council of Europe - countries - Venn diagram: "The Venn diagram and associated table of countries below are intended to help navigate the alphabet soup relating to Europe and groupings of European countries, ie the intergovernmental organisations (or international governmental organisations, IGOs) that are the EU, EEA, EFTA, Council of Europe" 'via Blog this'

The “New” New York Times: Free Speech Lawyering in the Age of Google and Twitter

The “New” New York Times: Free Speech Lawyering in the Age of Google and Twitter - The “New” New York Times: Free Speech Lawyering in the Age of Google and Twitter: "While they have been criticized for some of their decisions, the lawyers at companies like Google and Twitter are reminiscent of newspaper lawyers of old in their conscious thinking about and focus on freedom of expression. Their companies are not perfect, just as the New York Times is not perfect. Fifty years from now, though, we will remember these lawyers and their impact on how millions of people experience freedom of expression. And their paradigmatic decisions already have played significant roles in some of the most important freedom of expression episodes in modern times, including the leaking of classified documents to WikiLeaks and The Guardian, the sharing of anti-Islamic videos on YouTube, and the legislative debate over telecommunications and copyright rules such as “network neutrality” and “SOPA.”" 'via Blog this'

Friday, 12 September 2014


PCC RULING AGAINST DAILY MAIL – MY VERDICT | EU ROPE: "The Daily Mail’s so-called ‘corrections’ on this issue have been small and obscurely tucked away; they make no reference to my complaint; do not explain the context of the corrections and the reasons for them; do not state that the paper broke the Editors’ Code, and do not even have to refer to the PCC ruling. If this is the only consequence for sloppy, incorrect, alarmist and often xenophobic journalism, nothing is ever going to change, is it?
Until we have a proper, effective, independent press regulator in the UK – as required by The Leveson Inquiry – we will not be able to bring newspapers to account. My efforts to challenge just one Daily Mail story took most of this year; it should not have taken so long for the PCC to reach their (inadequate) verdict." 'via Blog this'

Thursday, 11 September 2014

What is media law? EU regulation of free to play games: hot topic or hot air?

EU regulation of free to play games: hot topic or hot air? | Gamer/Law: "The European Commission has just published a press release and report on the investigation into free to play games which it is coordinating within the European Union.  This follows my report back in February 2014 that the European Commission (one of the three legislative bodies in the EU and the prime policy maker) had decided to step into the increasingly thorny field of regulation of free to play games and in-app purchases in the online and mobile worlds.  Now the Commission has, seemingly out of the blue, issued a press release explaining what it has been up to all this time.

In this post I explain what’s going on and what’s REALLY important about the new guidance being issued to Apple and Google. " 'via Blog this'

Media Plurality in the UK: Where Do We Go From Here?

Media Plurality in the UK: Where Do We Go From Here? | LSE Media Policy Project: "What happens after the Ofcom analysis?

Probably a lot of occasionally interesting discussion; just possibly a new media plurality regime; most likely, nothing. The key questions, whatever your analysis, are what you then do and who makes the decisions. To take the easier question of who decides, the Government predictably gives a firm “non” to the suggestion that European Union tanks might be parked on our media lawn.  This is understandable, given Government’s natural desire to be able to wield influence over the media, but may be short-sighted if media markets continue to become more multi-national. It is also rather uncollegiate in limiting EU interventions in other Member States where media owners’ behaviour might be more detrimental to democracy and governments less effective at maintaining the media freedoms they were required to demonstrate at accession to the EU. The Government response seems to side-step the question of whether the final arbiter should be the independent regulator or a Government Minister. The Lords Committee seeks rather complexly to balance the desirability of independent arbitration with an element of democratic accountability. However, ultimately, it seems to me that politicians are elected to take such decisions and the objective should be that we have open and independent advice from a body such as Ofcom and a transparent, reasoned decision from Government." 'via Blog this'

Changes Are Coming to Scottish Broadcasting

Philip Schlesinger: ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ Changes Are Coming to Scottish Broadcasting | LSE Media Policy Project: "Scottish Government’s White Paper (the blueprint for independence negotiations) has pointed to possible co-regulation with Ofcom, another version of the joint venture idea mooted for the BBC.

If it is a no on 18 September, would these ideas simply disappear? That is hardly likely. The BBC is gearing up for the next Charter Review in 2016, a good time for lobbying for the Scottish interest. The SNP’s nascent Plan B would doubtless raise questions about the corporation’s formal accountability to the Scottish Parliament as well as the adequacy of Scottish representation on the BBC Trust and Ofcom’s board, much in tune with the call for more devolved broadcasting governance made earlier this year by the Silk Commission in Wales." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Cooke: First judgment under the new Defamation Act analysis

Farrer - First judgment under the new Defamation Act: "This highly anticipated judgment, the first to be decided under the Defamation Act 2013, looked specifically at the new "serious harm" test under s1(1). In finding against the claimants, the court made it clear that the threshold for a statement to be defamatory had been raised.
The court attached significant weight to early apologies and suggested that evidence will almost always be required to pass the serious harm test. However, on the meaning of "serious harm" itself, discussion was somewhat limited. The judge said that this was an ordinary term in common usage, providing little clarity on how it differs from the previous common law approach. " 'via Blog this'

Cooke & Anor v MGN Ltd & Anor [2014] EWHC 2831 (QB) (13 August 2014)

Cooke & Anor v MGN Ltd & Anor [2014] EWHC 2831 (QB) (13 August 2014):

"34. The 2013 Act was the product of extensive parliamentary scrutiny. A draft Bill was produced in March 2011 for public consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee of both Houses. The Joint Committee reported on the draft Bill on 19th October 2011. The Defamation Bill itself was then presented to the House of Commons on 20th May 2012 and after detailed consideration in both Houses received Royal Assent on 25th April 2013.

35. Both Mr Tomlinson and Mr Price have sought to refer to Hansard to cite remarks made in the course of the Bill's passage through Parliament, relying on Pepper v Hart [1993] AC 593. I consider that it is proper to refer to the Ministerial foreword to the draft Bill, to the Joint Committee's report on the draft Bill, and to the Explanatory Notes to the Act, to identify the mischief at which it was aimed. I also consider that the parliamentary history, and in particular any respect in which the Act differs from the original draft Bill, may be highly illuminating. It is also proper to refer to statements made by the promoters of the Bill (that is to say the sponsoring minister in each House or the proposer of any successful amendment) in order to resolve a genuine ambiguity in the Act." 'via Blog this'

Cooke & Anor v MGN Ltd & Anor [2014] EWHC 2831 (QB) (13 August 2014)

Cooke & Anor v MGN Ltd & Anor [2014] EWHC 2831 (QB) (13 August 2014): Mr Bean rules on the Defamation Act - the first case heard in QBD:

"28. The Act only applies to defamation claims where the cause of action has arisen since the beginning of 2014. Mr Tomlinson and Mr Price tell me this is the first case in which the interpretation of the Act has come before the courts.

29. There was originally a suggestion in correspondence that Midland Heart are a "body that trades for profit" and that therefore by virtue of s 1(2) they could only succeed if they showed that the publication has caused or was likely to cause serious financial loss. However, by the time the issues to be tried by me were formulated the parties were agreed that s 1(2) does not apply in the present case, although its terms are arguably of some assistance in construing s 1(1).

30. It is common ground that s 1(1) requires a claimant to show that serious harm has been caused or is likely to be caused to his reputation. It is not enough to show that the publication has caused or is likely to cause serious distress or injury to feelings." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Historical censorship of media - and 'golden years' 1832-1912

Josiah Wedgwood, MP, protested in the House against the institution by the Government of prosecutions of the Press. His speech was a scathing attack on those who were intent on returning to the political prosecutions of a century before. He noted that from 1832 to 1912 – Cobbett to Bowman – prosecutions of the Press of this nature had ceased and that it was from the trial of Cobbett that the freedom of the press really dated. 'The best men in every age have been against such prosecutions', he observed, adding the warning, 'there has always been some provocation, some fear inspiring prosecution. The clamour of propertied classes has again and again deafened the Government to the still, quiet voice of reason and liberty.'

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

McSithigh papers available online

Open access to 2013 work: "Open access versions of a couple of my 2013/4 publications and talks have recently been made available through the University of Edinburgh. These versions are the best possible permitted under the terms of the relevant publishers –  peer reviewed but not fully formatted for (print) publication in the journal in question. They are accessible without registration or charge to all.
Earlier publications continue to be available via my SSRN page without a need for a subscription, in various forms." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Here comes the judge – puff piece on IPSO's new chair

Here comes the judge – the maverick aiming to tame Britain's raucous press | From the Guardian | The Guardian: ""To those who have voiced doubts as to the ability of Ipso to meet the demands of independent regulation, I say that I have spent over 40 years pursuing the profession of barrister and judge whose hallmarks are independent action and independent judgment. I do not intend to do away with that independence now."

Moses was subjected to what is understood to have been a rigorous interview for the Ipso post, described by one of the participants as "a robust going-over that took him somewhat by surprise."" 'via Blog this'

Monday, 12 May 2014

Joint declaration on universality and the right to freedom of expression

Joint declaration on universality and the right to freedom of… · Article 19: "Certain types of legal restrictions on freedom of expression can never be justified by reference to local traditions, culture and values. Where they exist, such restrictions should be repealed and anyone who has been sanctioned under them should be fully absolved and be afforded adequate redress for the violation of their human rights. These include:

                          i.    Laws which protect religions against criticism or prohibit the expression of dissenting religious beliefs.             ii.    Laws which prohibit debate about issues of concern or interest to minorities and other groups which have suffered from historical discrimination or prohibit speech which is an element of the identity or personal dignity of these individuals and/or groups.

iii.    Laws which provide for special protection against criticism for officials, institutions, historical figures, or national or religious symbols." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Criminal Justice and Courts Bill (12th March 2014)

Criminal Justice and Courts Bill (12th March 2014): "The provisions have been in operation for five years and have resulted in prosecutions far in excess of the numbers predicted in 2008. From our own experiences of the current extreme pornography law (S63 (7 CJIA 2008), we know that some prosecutions have been deployed against sexual minorities and with scant regard to the particular provenance or contexts of the materials on the charge sheet (R v Holland; Webster; Walsh). While the provisions on bestiality may be transparent, the first two provisions are absolutely not" 'via Blog this'

Saturday, 5 April 2014

State intimidation of journalists leaves media freedom in jeopardy

State intimidation of journalists leaves media freedom in jeopardy: "This growing cultural prejudice against journalists and normalisation of criminalising them takes its cue from the Leveson Inquiry, the Media Standards Trust, Hacked Off, “Common Purpose”, the Campaign for Media Reform, and the legions of cheer-leading academics who want to “decontaminate” British journalism of the “unethical”. 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

W1A falls short of the real absurdity of life at the BBC

W1A falls short of the real absurdity of life at the BBC: "Daily Mail [is] rolling its eyes into the back of its head. This, after all, was perfect clickbait. Along with soft porn and body fascism – the usual enticements to the raging troglodytes who inhabit the underworld beneath the online articles – BBC-bashing is a surefire winner. The headlines ran: “I could earn DOUBLE elsewhere: £320,000-a-year BBC TV chief defends huge pay packet” and “New carpets at BBC’s £1bn HQ … just months after it opened.”" 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Jack of Kent: McLibel

Jack of Kent: McLibel: "It is the Crap Libel Case against which all others are measured.

In particular, there are three really, really stupid decisions by McDonalds in this case. These decisions are so staggeringly misconceived that they should be treasured by anyone interested in the dysfunctions of human nature. Only very special decision-makers can make decisions this bad." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Ukranian oligarchs using UK defamation laws to prevent stories about wealth

Rinat Akhmetov - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "In 2008, a judgment was obtained from the High Court of Justice in London after Obozrevatel, a Ukrainian language Internet publication refused to retract false and libelous statements alleging that Mr. Akhmetov was connected to criminal activity and violence. The Obozrevatel report interviewed his former classmates and neighbors, and delved into his early years." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Audiovisual Media Services: European Regulators Group

Audiovisual Media Services: European Regulators Group: "European Commission has formally established a group of EU Regulatory Authorities in the field of Audiovisual Media Services. The Group brings together heads or high level representatives of national independent regulatory bodies in the field of audiovisual services, to advise the Commission in implementing the EU's Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) in a converged media age.

The European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services will advise and assist the Commission in its work to ensure consistent implementation of the AVMSD and other related fields in which the Commission can act. It will facilitate cooperation between regulatory bodies in the EU, and will also allow for an exchange of experience and good practice." 'via Blog this'

English court confirms existence of privacy tort

English court confirms existence of privacy tort | TechnoLlama: "Tugendhat J. had to consider whether misuse of private information, breach of confidence and breach of DPA statutory duties amount to a claim in tort. [He] first referred back to Campbell v MGN [2004] 2 WLR 1232 where Lord Nicholls established that breach of confidence was better encapsulated by another concept, that of misuse of private information, and commented that the tort, however labelled, “affords respect for one aspect of an individual’s privacy”. [He] also referred to Douglas v Hello [2005] EWCA Civ 595 and Imerman v Tchenguiz [2011] Fam 116 as other cases where the tort of misuse of private information had been mentioned.

The judge then concluded that “the tort of misuse of private information is a tort” within the meaning of the CPR rules." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

ICO Consults on DP Guidance for the Media

ICO Consults on DP Guidance for the Media: "The draft guidance that was developed following the Leveson Report's recommendation that the Information Commissioner develops specific and comprehensive guidance on the application of the Data Protection Act to the press is now subject to public consultation. The final version of the guidance aims to help those working in the media to understand and comply with data protection law and good practice.

The deadline for responses to the consultation on the draft guidance is 22 April 2014" 'via Blog this'