Category Archives: Media Law

Social media is not above the law

The rise of social media appears to be unstoppable. Consider these figures, from a recent Forbes article:

  • Facebook has over 1.3 billion monthly active users and $2.9 billion in quarterly revenue
  • Twitter has 271 million monthly active users and $312 million in quarterly revenue
  • Both rely heavily on mobile users, with 86 per cent of Twitter’s traffic coming via mobile devices while 68 per cent of Facebook’s traffic is through such devices
  • Every minute, there are roughly 350,000 tweets and 382,000 Facebook “likes”.

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Phone Hacking: Trinity Mirror admits liability

It has recently been reported that Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, has admitted liability in respect of claims brought by four individuals who sued over allegations of voicemail interception. This comes with the news that Trinity Mirror has also settled six other related claims. The alleged victims include Shane Ritchie and actress Lucy Benjamin along with Sven-Goran Eriksson and actor Christopher Eccleston.

Trinity Mirror had previously made unsuccessful applications for summary judgment and to strike out several of these claims. Continue reading

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Trial by jury: to be a rare exception

From the first ruling on mode of trial since the abolition of the right to jury trial in defamation cases, it is apparent that the court will only on rare occasions exercise its residual discretion.

In his judgment in the case of Tim Yeo MP V Times Newspapers Limited, in which Carter-Ruck acts for the Claimant, Warby J examined the constitutional history to the new legislation and ultimately dismissed the Defendant’s application for trial by jury. Times Newspapers had argued that, since the subject matter of the case involved issues of public interest concerning the reputation of a senior Member of Parliament and the newspaper’s freedom of expression, it should be heard with a jury.
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Cooke and Anor v MGN: Raising the bar

After an anxious wait for the first judicial interpretation of the new “serious harm” threshold imposed by the Defamation Act 2013, Wednesday’s judgment by Bean J in Cooke and Anor v MGN [2014] EWHC 2831 gives an early indication of just how much the bar has been raised. Continue reading

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Verdicts in News of the World phone hacking trial

The News of the World phone hacking trial reached its conclusion this week, with the jury delivering verdicts for the majority of charges. Following a trial which lasted for some eight months, former editor Andy Coulson was found guilty of conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages, in the period between October 2000 and August 2006.

Rebekah Brooks, a former editor of the publication, and Stuart Kuttner, a former managing editor, were cleared of the same charge relating to phone hacking. Mrs Brooks was further cleared of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. Along with her husband Charlie Brooks, and News International staff Mark Hanna and Cheryl Carter, Mrs Brooks was also cleared of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in relation to alleged destruction or removal of evidence during the Police investigation. Continue reading

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Open Justice on Trial?

This week sees the start of a terrorism trial that has already been the subject of much controversy between proponents of the long held principle of open-justice, the media and the government.

The trial, in which the two Defendants are accused of offences pursuant to the Terrorism Act 2006, was originally (and most unusually) due to take place entirely in secret and with the identity of both Defendants concealed. This followed an application of the Crown, heard by Mr Justice Nicol on 19 May 2014 Continue reading

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Google v Spain: EU backs ‘right to be forgotten’

In a landmark decision on internet privacy, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) has ruled that search engine operators must comply with requests to remove links to personal data that is “irrelevant or excessive”, even where the person is not prejudiced by the listing and even where the original publication was lawful. The decision, on 13 May, comes in the wake of broader EU proposals for a new data privacy law, including a ‘right to be forgotten’ that would oblige operators to delete personal data unless there are legitimate grounds to retain it. It also, somewhat surprisingly, contradicts previous advice by the EU’s Advocate General that search engines should ignore such requests, since a general right to be forgotten would “entail sacrificing pivotal rights such as freedom of expression and information”. Continue reading

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New “unfettered” image privacy rights for children? The Weller case

Last week, Mr Justice Dingemans handed down judgment in Weller v Associated Newspapers [2014] EWHC 1163 (QB), ruling that the privacy of the children of singer and songwriter Paul Weller had been breached by Associated Newspapers Limited, the publishers of the Daily Mail and the Mail Online, and awarding the Weller children a total of £10,000 in damages. Continue reading

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Carter-Ruck letter a “mark of honour”

BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson is reported as saying that receipt of a Carter-Ruck letter is one of two marks of honour in modern British journalism – the other is a menacing exchange with Peter Mandelson. For the full … Continue reading

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The Defamation Bill: What can we expect?

For a brief period it seemed as if the much discussed Defamation Bill was in line to be cast into the legislative scrapheap of history as it emerged the Bill had become a party political battleground about how to best implement the Leveson Report’s recommendations on press regulation.

The legislative fault line concerned the new clause 2 of the “Putnam amendments”, named after the Labour Peer Lord Putnam, who along with Baroness Boothroyd, Lord Mackay and Baroness Scotland had tabled the amendments. Clause 2 proposed to create a statute based press regulator which, in principle, echoed the recommendations of the Leveson Report. The Conservative party, while agreeing with the need for a new and beefed up press regulator, had opposed any statutory underpinning for such a body. The result was a standoff which saw David Cameron indicating that unless there was cross-party agreement the amendment would be dropped, and the Bill could be scrapped altogether. Continue reading

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