Exam date

When's the 2016 exam? Wednesday 8th June, am.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Legal costs of libel means its for rich only?

Click on 'read more' and you'll find a stack of links with selected excerpts to further illustrate the analysis below. Main themes here: the 2011 libel reform proposals, now the 2012 Libel Reform Bill - a response to our laws/courts being seen to be used by corporations and the rich to bully newspapers into silence on issues that they didn't want reported. When Max Mosley won his breach of privacy case against NoTW, News International ran up £1m in costs defending itself. The social worker libelled by The Sun over the Baby P case 'won', but was left with a legal bill of £300k: do libel laws only work if you're rich? Also looks at difference between libel (written) + slander/defamation (visual/speech), and the issues raised by online material, plus 'superinjunctions', eg the Trafigura case (also John Terry, Ryan Giggs, Andrew Marr...).
Another quick eg on costs (24.5.12): Carina Trimingham sued the Mail for breaches of privacy and homophobic harassment over the 65 articles they published on her, many mockingly or irrelevantly citing her (lesbian/bisexual) sexuality. She lost, and is left with a £410k bill: thats the Mail's legal costs which she has been ordered to pay. CT had an affair with MP Chris Huhne.
I think we've well enough established how unsatisfactory the PCC is as a press regulator: it offers minimal protection from intrusion or inaccuracy, and remedies of dubious status should your complaint be upheld (although it does seem to undertake substantial work to resolve complaints by acting as a complainant/press go-between, so speeding things up).

When it comes to the alternative of using the law courts, there is a clear issue: cost.

Before looking at a case which shows how legal justice may be increasingly out of reach of all but the rich (thus a return to the way things were before the 1792 Fox's Libel Act (adding juries) and Libel Act of 1843 (creating a public interest defence?), bear in mind that this works both ways: the superinjunctions [see this blog + BBC] we've seen are an expression of the ability of the rich and powerful to silence our democratic press/media. Indeed, we even get 'libel tourism': the rich and powerful (not least corporations seeking to prevent negative coverage of their actions) from outside the UK using UK law courts to get court orders which legally restrict reporting on them not just in the UK but beyond too. Libel laws are not beyond question: yes, they theoretically offer some protection from media intrusion and distortion, BUT corporations can take out cases knowing that many papers will simply agree to their demands (often, in effect, to cease publishing the truth) to avoid the huge legal expenses of a court case. At a time when most newspapers have been savagely reducing their workforces, even a successful legal defence of a libel complaint can cost the equivalent of several full-time journalists!

Here then is a case (as reported by Roy Greenslade) of a social worker who won her libel case against The Sun - and has been left with a £300k bill, after the damages award has been factored in (added emphasis is mine).
Social worker Sylvia Henry won a libel action against The Sun, which made false allegations about her over the Baby P case, but she now faces the possibility of being almost £300,000 out of pocket.
That's the amount of shortfall in the legal costs she is able to claim from the paper's publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN).
The senior costs judge, Master Hurst, ruled that lawyers acting for Henry could not claim any more than the previous court-approved amount from NGN, a division of News International.
He made the ruling despite the fact that Henry would have a "very good case" to justify the extra costs in a detailed assessment.
In June last year, The Sun agreed to pay Henry compensation and apologised unreservedly to her for publishing false allegations about her role in the Baby P tragedy.
Henry, a social worker in the London borough of Haringey for 23 years, was accused by The Sun of being "grossly negligent" in her handling of the case.
Baby P, Peter Connelly, was a 17-month old boy who died after suffering more than 50 injuries over an eight-month period. His mother, her boyfriend and another relative were convicted of causing or allowing the death of the child.
But Haringey children's services came in for criticism for failing to protect Peter, and The Sun ran a campaign alleging that the department was partly to blame for his death.
As part of that campaign, published over four months from November 2008, Henry was accused by the paper of being "grossly negligent" in her handling of Baby P's case.
Her solicitor, Daniel Taylor, told the high court that the newspaper alleged she had shown no remorse for these failings and was "shameless and had ducked responsibility for Peter's death".
The false allegations were said to have been published in about 80 articles.
Ben Beabey, the solicitor for NGN, told the court in that hearing: "The Sun fully accepts that the claimant played no part and bears no responsibility for the circumstances surrounding the death of Peter Connelly and that she did her best for him. The Sun apologises to Ms Henry."
Following that hearing, the London legal firm that acted for Henry, Taylor Hampton, have been seeking costs from NGN.
It exceeded the previous agreed amounts, it said, because of the way the defence was conducted.
Master Hurst said NGN has "mounted a vigorous and lengthy defence which was amended four times. They served 10 lists of documents.
"I do not suggest that the defendant was not entitled to act as it did, but it cannot now try to pass off this constantly changing scenario as being no more than a minor inconvenience to the claimant."
But the costs judge said that Henry's lawyers had "largely ignored the provisions of the practice direction" in relation to the budgeting of costs.
He suggested that Henry's lawyers should have raised the matter of the extra costs earlier in the litigation and he therefore ruled in NGN's favour.
Daniel Taylor said they were "naturally disappointed with the decision" but thought it "very significant" that the judge gave permission for an appeal without any request for one.
The case will be seen as significant because Master Hurst's judgment is the first such ruling in relation to a defamation costs budgeting pilot following reforms proposed by Lord Justice Jackson.
Sources: Legal Futures (1) and (2)
Notice there's no mention of the PCC here. Just as importantly, if you were on a typical social worker wage of <£20k a year, and read this, what would YOU do if YOUR name was attacked in this way? How could you get any justice if you cannot afford such a bill? (Again, do note that this logic also works in reverse: newspapers, especially local/regional, frequently cave in to frankly cheeky complaints from corporations rather than face the crippling costs of defending the principle of freedom of speech; of freedom to publish in a democracy.)

Lets define a couple of terms here:
In common law jurisdictions, slander refers to a malicious, false,[2][not specific enough to verify] and defamatory spoken statement or report, while libel refers to any other form of communication such as written words or images.[3] Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism. Related to defamation is public disclosure of private facts, which arises where one person reveals information that is not of public concern, and the release of which would offend a reasonable person. "Unlike [with] libel, truth is not a defense for invasion of privacy."[4][not verified in body]
The common law origins of defamation lie in the torts of "slander" (harmful statement in a transitory form, especially speech), each of which gives a common law right of action.
"Defamation" is the general term used internationally, and is used in this article where it is not necessary to distinguish between "slander" and "libel". Libel and slander both require publication.[8] The fundamental distinction between libel and slander lies solely in the form in which the defamatory matter is published. If the offending material is published in some fleeting form, as by spoken words or sounds, sign language, gestures and the like, then this is slander.
Libel is defined as defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures.[9] The law of libel originated in the 17th century in England. With the growth of publication came the growth of libel and development of the tort of libel.

I've left all the Wiki-notes in to highlight the curious lack of precision in such a major concept, but basically:
SLANDER/DEFAMATION = malicious or false SPOKEN statements
LIBEL = malicious or false WRITTEN statements (or still images)

THE MOSLEY CASE
In the case of Max Mosley [see this article + Gdn section], whose S&M/bondage practices were splashed across newspapers by NoTW, he has successfully sued for breach of privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights BUT lost his libel case. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosley_v_News_Group_Newspapers. Mosley's victory was hollow - he was awarded only £60k damages!!! - but then again the legal costs of News International topped £1m.
The Mosley case (the story ran in 2008, his law suits were swift with early judgements in 2009 but more cases potentially to be launched; Mosley continues to campaign for much tighter restrictions on the media) is a key one for 'wider social issues', not least the conflicting right to privacy and right to free expression. Mosley had asked that the courts enforce a right for anyone subject of a newspaper article to be informed prior to publication - but, having been given the rather small £60k damages for breach of his right to privacy under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the judge dismissed this idea as in conflict with another ECHR article, 10, on freedom of expression:
"The government's judgment is that the imposition of such a positive duty would be likely to have - and would undoubtedly risk - a serious chilling effect on the freedom of the media and the freedom of the public to express themselves," Eadie told the court.
... For the Guardian, Lord Lester QC argued that the legal duty sought by Mosley was not required by article 8 of the human rights convention - the right to privacy - and was inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression in article 10. The availability of injunctions and the right to sue for damages after the event amounted to an effective domestic remedy, he claimed.
"In practice," said Lester, "injunctive relief is usually available and will in itself be an effective remedy." These arguments have found favour with the court today.
What seems to have tipped the balance in favour of the media was the court's conclusion that any requirement to pre-notify an individual would have been subject to a public interest exception. A newspaper could opt not to notify the person concerned if it believed it could defend its decision subsequently on the basis of the public interest, the court said.
A reasonable belief in a public-interest defence would have to be sufficient to justify non-notification, the court said, even if it was found later that no such public interest arose. Otherwise, there would be a chilling effect on freedom of expression.
This was on the European Court of Human Rights' May 2011 ruling (written by legal expert Joshua Rozenberg).
See all Roy Greenslade articles linked to the Mosley case: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade+mosley
Michael White: 'This case exemplified the fact that - with some honourable exceptions - serious investigative journalism is in retreat':
Newspapers are entitled to make mistakes in a free society - and make amends when they do, which many find harder. But this one, like the McCann and Robert Murat settlements in recent weeks, is hard to justify on the media side. So our side may have been weakened for no good reason.
But things will be OK as long as a robust public interest defence remains effective, the so-called Reynolds defence mounted by the Sunday Times against a libel suit from the former Irish Taoiseach, a case where the paper was able to show it had given Reynolds time to reply before publication.
What the NoW's dirty tale of S&M sex sessions failed to show was legitimate public interest as opposed to lots of the public being interested in the Formula 1's chief's strange private obsession.
...
The sad truth is that serious investigative journalism - tabloid, broadsheet and radio/TV kinds - are all in retreat with honourable exceptions, including those which Guardian readers read from time to time.
Why? Because they're difficult and expensive, they run up against powerful interests with hot-shot legal teams. Much easier and cheaper to print more rubbish about celebrities.
A pity poorer people than Max Mosley who get defamed can't get redress as he did.


Some more brief points/resources:
Several excerpts below on the March 2011 announcement of proposals to reform libel law; this led to a Libel Reform Bill being included in the May 2012 Queen's Speech (when proposed new laws to be voted on by Parliament are announced). There also sections on superinjunctions and Tweed's 2012 book.


2012 LIBEL LAW REFORM BILL:
Roy Greenslade, May 2012: 'Libel bill is good news for all who believe in free expression':
If it isn't radically altered, the major effect will be to protect free expression for journalists, writers, bloggers and scientists around the world. It will also curtail, and possibly terminate, the phenomenon of libel tourism.
Of course, campaigners will need to ensure that the bill is not watered down on its journey through the Commons and the Lords.
Today is a moment to celebrate though, so it's no surprise that Kirsty Hughes, Index's chief executive, greeted the announcement by saying that the 60,000 people who signed the libel reform campaign will be delighted.
And Index's editor, Jo Glanville, said: "We have now have a chance for libel legislation that's fit for the 21st century. The introduction of the single publication rule and greater protection for internet service providers will help to put an end to the chilling effect online."
Indie's report on 2012 Libel Reform Bill:
Reforms expected to feature in the Defamation Bill will include moves to address concerns about the detrimental effects that current libel law has on freedom of expression, particularly in relation to academic and scientific debate, the work of non-governmental organisations and investigative journalism, and libel tourism.
The Bill is also expected to introduce greater protection for secondary publishers such as booksellers and for website operators in relation to material posted by users of sites which they host - at present, website operators have to remove material when they are told it is defamatory or face the risk of a libel action even though they are not in a position to know whether or not it is defamatory.
The Bill is also expected to end the presumption in favour of jury trial in defamation cases, which currently adds significantly to the cost of cases and the time taken to resolve claims, and stops early resolution of issues such as the actual meaning of words about which the claimant is complaining.
It is also expected to introduce a requirement for a claimant to demonstrate that the published material has caused serious harm - an attempt to stop or discourage trivial claims - and to put the Reynolds defence of responsible journalism on a matter of public interest on to a statutory footing.
MARCH 2011 LIBEL LAW REFORM PROPOSALS
Gov announces major Libel Law reform (March 2011):
The government on Tuesday unveiled sweeping changes to the libel laws aimed at protecting freedom of speech and bringing an end to so-called "libel tourism" from abroad.
Ken Clarke, the justice secretary, published a draft bill that includes a new "public interest" defence which can be used by defendants in defamation cases and a requirement that claimants can demonstrate substantial harm before they can sue.
The bill will also signal an end to the use of juries in libel trials apart from in exceptional circumstances, and aims to end libel tourism by making it tougher to bring overseas claims which have little connection to the UK in the English courts.
Clarke, unveiling the draft bill on Tuesday alongside minister of state for justice Lord McNally, said the bill would "ensure that anyone who makes a statement of fact or expresses an honest opinion can do so with confidence".
"The right to speak freely and debate issues without fear of censure is a vital cornerstone of a democratic society," he added.
"In recent years, though, the increased threat of costly libel actions has begun to have a chilling effect on scientific and academic debate and investigative journalism."
The bill includes a new statutory defence of truth which will replace the current common law defence of justification. It also includes a statutory defence of honest opinion replacing the current common law defence of fair and honest comment.
In a bid to stamp out libel tourism, a court will not accept jurisdiction unless satisfied that England and Wales is "clearly" the most appropriate place to bring the action against someone who does not live in the UK or an EU member state.
The bill will also remove the presumption in favour of jury trial as part of a series of measures to cut costs and speed up court cases.
Meejalaw.com collate articles on libel reform proposals, March 2011:
The Meeja Law must-read feeds (see @medialawUK & @meejalaw on Twitter) are clogged up with defamation stories this week, following the government’s publication of its draft bill. Here are a selection of those articles, plus a few other topics defining the British media law week. Enjoy. [obviously you need to click through to the article to see these!!!]
BBC report on March 2011 proposals:
Lord Phillips, President of the Supreme Court, has said defamation cases can be so complex that a jury trial "simply invites expensive interlocutory battles".
But Mr Clarke said in exceptional cases there should be jury trials - as they were still one of the best ways to tell which one of two witnesses was telling the truth.
Introducing the bill, he said: "The right to speak freely and debate issues without fear of censure is a vital cornerstone of a democratic society.
"In recent years though, the increased threat of costly libel actions has begun to have a chilling effect on scientific and academic debate, and investigative journalism.
"However it is never acceptable to harm someone's reputation without just cause, so the bill will ensure defamation law continues to balance the needs of both sides and encourage a just outcome in libel cases."
Deputy PM Nick Clegg said current libel laws were outdated: "We cannot continue to tolerate a culture in which scientists, journalists and bloggers are afraid to tackle issues of public importance for fear of being sued."

'Government's response to draft defamation bill is encouraging but there's still some way to go' (March 2011) by Gill Phillips:
With the Leveson inquiry into media ethics and practices attracting so much attention, it was easy to overlook another contribution to the debate about media law last week: the government's response to the draft defamation bill.
The document needs to be seen against the background of reform dating back to March 2010, when the culture, media and sport select committee identified some problems with existing defamation law in the context of a wider look at press standards. At the general election, all three major political parties expressed support for reforming libel laws. In May 2010, Lord Lester of Herne Hill introduced his draft private member's bill, followed by the government's draft bill in March last year.
Then came the joint committee's own series of recommendations, based around "four core principles": freedom of expression/protection of reputation, reducing costs, accessibility and cultural change.
THE ONLINE LIBEL LAW CHALLENGE
Online libel cases double in 2010-11:
The Libel Reform Campaign group said smaller website operators needed more legal backing to protect themselves against actions brought by what it described as "corporate bullies".
Commenting on the figures, Barrister Korieh Duodu, a media specialist with law firm Addleshaw Goddard, said much of what appeared online was written by people who did not check facts in the way that media organisations do.
But he also warned the trend of journalists using social media sites as news sources increased the risk of defamatory information appearing in national news stories.
"People who find themselves damaged on social media sites can often find it time-consuming and difficult to have the offending material removed, because many platform providers do not accept responsibility for their users' content," he said.
"Such is the speed at which information travels through social networks that one unchecked comment can spread into the mainstream media within minutes, which can cause irreparable damage to the subject who has been wronged."
'Honest opinions'
Mr Duodu said those who provide user-generated content on the internet should be held more accountable for what they write, through stricter regulation.
A spokesman for the Libel Reform Campaign said the draft Defamation Bill, currently going through Westminster, needed specific action to make it easier and less costly for website operators to mount a public interest defence, if they are taken to court for defamation.
"We need the select committee looking at the draft Defamation Bill to make concrete proposals to stop legal threats against internet hosts bringing down entire websites," added the spokesman.
'Online publishers may be accountable to the same libel laws as traditional media, but reacting to complaints is not always as straightforward. It is hoped, reports Alex Heshmaty, that a new defamation bill will clarify the process' (Nov 2011):
Although the internet is sometimes viewed as an anarchic, chaotic and lawless vacuum where freedom of speech reigns supreme, it is subject to the same protections – and limitations – of libel law as any other media platform. 
THE SUPERINJUNCTION ISSUE:
Max Mosley + John Kampfner debate on pros/cons of superinjunctions, May 2011:
Max Mosley: Businessman and victim of a tabloid sting
The press are outraged that they cannot freely report the sex life of anyone vaguely interesting, so they inveigh against the right to privacy. The fact that the Human Rights Act – under which an entitlement to privacy is enshrined – was passed by parliament after extensive debate is conveniently ignored. The press like to pretend that the law was invented by judges.
What the press never do, but the judges must, is weigh the public interest (if there is any) in disclosure against the distress which exposure can cause the individual or family concerned. The tabloids will happily destroy a family or cause acute distress to another human being for the fleeting entertainment of their readers. To do this without a real public-interest need is deeply uncivilised. It's like bear-baiting – quite fun, perhaps, for a certain sort of person, but unspeakably awful for the bear.
Generally, these injunctions are temporary: they hold the ring until a trial decides if the information should be public. They are only given if the judge thinks the complainant will win. Very occasionally the mere fact of an injunction would make the information public. Hence the extremely rare superinjunction.
John Kampfner: commentator and chief executive of Index on Censorship
Max, I respect your tenacity. Having been in the firing line of tabloid sex stories, it is no surprise that you seek a new level of privacy and protection for those in the public eye. Indeed, so committed are you that your attempts to secure for claimants "prior notification" of all media stories are being fought over at the court in Strasbourg. My organisation is one of those opposing you, because we believe your move constitutes an assault on free expression.
The recent spate of superinjunctions is another example. I accept, and I reckon all sensible advocates of free speech also accept, the entitlement to privacy as enshrined in the Human Rights Act – for those who have never put their private lives in the public domain or who do not act hypocritically. But privacy is not the same as secrecy, and what we're seeing is a new form of law: rich man's justice pursued in secret.
If only you were right and that superinjunctions were "extremely rare", and that they merely and temporarily "hold the ring". They give the man (and, yes, it is almost always a man) a blanket right to concealment for as long as he needs it.
And if you're an entertainer or footballer "playing away" (superinjunctions are granted almost exclusively to these two types), you would, naturally, not complain about the way the judges are currently interpreting the law. Why would you? You can do what you want – and gag the women, and anyone else, from saying anything to anyone at anytime.

Roy Greenslade, May 2011: 'Superinjunctions: both the Daily Star Sunday and Index on Censorship are wrong':
[John Kampfner, of Index on Censorship's] call for a debate on the meaning of privacy ignores the fact that we have been debating the topic since the 1980s, when Clive (now Lord) Soley first frightened newspapers into putting their house in order and, in so doing, led to the creation of the Press Complaints Commission.
Similarly, his call for "a happy medium" overlooks that editors and judges have been seeking that for years.
They have been aware of the need for a compromise between a free-for-all (which former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie unashamedly advocates) and a total clamp on press freedom.
In practice, both the PCC (as its director pointed out in his interview with me) and the judges have been working out ways to protect privacy while protecting press freedom.
And, in essence (even if we sometimes disagree with both of them over specific cases), that's the only sensible solution.
There cannot be a one-size-fits-all, hard-and-fast, inflexible rule. Each case, within certain parameters, has to be treated on its merits.
Ian Hislop: challenging Andrew Marr's superinjunction cost 10s of 1,000s (April 2011):
"The Marr case was the most absurd possible," Hislop told the Guardian. "The story [about allegedly fathering a child during an affair] wasn't even true. It headed into Kafkaesque territory. Tens of thousands of pounds have been spent [challenging] this order. We went to his lawyers and said we were going to court and after a lot of bargaining … he said we could vary it again.
"How are we meant to know about these superinjunctions if we don't even get sent them? It's bonkers. Our problem [in challenging them] is that we need to concentrate the few resources we have on the cases we think might be important."
Marr, the BBC's former political editor, won a high court order in January 2008 to silence the media following an extramarital affair eight years ago with a national newspaper journalist. She had a child, but Marr is not the father.
On Tuesday's BBC Today programme, Hislop accused Marr of hypocrisy. "As a leading BBC interviewer who is asking politicians about failures in judgment, failures in their private lives, inconsistencies, it was pretty rank of him to have an injunction while working as an active journalist," Hislop said.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Daily Mail, Marr – married to Guardian columnist Jackie Ashley – said he felt "uneasy" about the order. "I did not come into journalism to go around gagging journalists," he said. "Am I embarrassed by it? Yes." But he added: "I still believe there was, under those circumstances, no public interest in it."
SEE ALSO: http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/superinjunctions; http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/trafigura-probo-koala; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trafigura#Super-injunction; http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/oct/20/trafigura-anatomy-super-injunction.

TWEED 2012 BOOK
BOOK: Privacy and Libel Law: The Clash With Press Freedom (Paul Tweed, 2012) [remember, you can cite a book/writer using just a brief synopsis]:
This new title covers the law surrounding freedom of press versus rights of the individual, including in depth analysis of the review of UK libel law and the draft Defamation Bill published in March 2011. Examines the need to protect personal reputation/privacy while at the same time safeguarding genuine investigative journalism; Assesses whether the UK s privacy/libel laws are sufficient to control the excesses of the press (such as phone hacking); Seeks to explain why the press is so hostile to UK media laws; Analyses why celebrities choose to sue for libel in London rather than New York; Contents includes: History and development of libel laws in the UK and USA; Actions brought by US personalities in the UK Courts; The ramifications of the Rachel Ehrenfeld case; Importance of striking a balance between an unfettered press reporting in the public interest and one-sided coverage of particular issues; The argument for statutory press regulation; Level of damages awarded in comparison to costs involved; Super-injunctions; Anticipated changes to the law; Alternative remedies; Difficulties facing Claimants without access to legal aid; Implications arising from the phone hacking scandal...
Tweed has also blogged a detailed intro to his book:
The general public could be forgiven for thinking that our libel laws constitute an obvious and incontestable flaw in the UK legal system and as such have been bringing the whole country into contempt and turning the Courts into a laughing stock. The press of course have, and will likely always have, full control of the presentation of the arguments and, aided and abetted by their colleagues in the US, did not take too long to persuade the political establishment that reform was necessary. The last Labour Government set the ball rolling by setting up various Committees, to at least give the appearance that the situation was being addressed, with the politicians on both sides of the House conscious at all times of the need to ensure that the press were placated, particularly with a General Election in the offing.
Unfortunately for Labour, their actions were insufficient to prevent their total humiliation at the ballot box but, almost immediately on the formation of a new government, the Conservative/Lib Dem Coalition assumed Labour’s policy position and initiated a review of the libel laws. After taking office, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, in an apparent attempt to curry favour with the media establishment, began condemning our libel laws to anyone who would listen and proclaiming that they “make a mockery of British justice”.  It appeared that the media and political establishments were ad idem on the need for reform of our libel laws.
Then to paraphrase Harold MacMillan, “events” occurred that were to undermine on the surface at least, the depth of that relationship when in the summer of 2011 the breadth and depth of the phone hacking scandal first emerged. Even those newspapers who had previously been robust and uncompromising in their criticism of not only the law of libel but also the increasingly debated rights to privacy and confidentiality, suddenly had to get off their campaigning horse and acknowledge what was rapidly becoming one of the greatest scandals of the 21st Century.
Right up until July, 2011, the mainstream press and their online counterparts had been concentrating on their sometimes hysterical condemnation of the superinjunctions and what they perceived to be a totally unacceptable threat to their right to freedom of expression.
Somewhat surprisingly, it was only when the phone hacking scandal touched upon the lives of ordinary people and victims of crime such as Milly Dowler, that the press realised that they had to proceed with considerable caution in their reporting of an issue that had touched the public conscience in a way that a sex scandal involving a professional footballer never could. However, what is perhaps just as surprising is that the Information Commissioner’s Reports into “Operation Motorman” published some five years earlier, detailing extensive breaches of personal privacy and confidentiality, barely received a mention in the press.
This somewhat questionable scenario serves to highlight both the power of the press and what could be regarded as a total disregard for the rights of the ordinary man on the street whose interests have been totally ignored during what has been one of the most high profile issues debated in modern times.
At this point, you may be forgiven for thinking that I am just as guilty of the same unbalanced approach of which I am criticising the press, but in this book I will be seeking to put all the facts on the table and will leave the reader to decide, in the same manner as any jury, on the evidence. I would however submit that in acting for both Claimants and Defendant publishers I have had the experience of understanding the sentiments on both sides, and operating from offices in London, Dublin and Belfast has given me the benefit of assessing the laws relating to privacy and defamation in three separate jurisdictions, with their subtle distinctions.

The following came from http://www.godnose.co.uk/downloads/alevel/key%20concepts/%20Media%20regulation.pdf:
Media Regulation Legal Ethical Issues

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1 comment:

  1. the Trafigura case link in the first paragraph has been removed from the guardian website.

    ReplyDelete

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