Category Archives: Freedom of expression

Libel case lawyers probe far-right cash – article

Lawyers suing the far-right agitator Tommy Robinson aimed to use a libel case against him to unmask his finances, reported the Independent website. They were acting on behalf of a Syrian teenager who was denounced by Robinson after video showed the boy being bullied. The website also notes how far-right activists had grabbed media attention by pressing their right to free speech. Read the piece here.

 

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Unbalanced: radio host’s ‘mental hospital’ jibes

Talkradio host George Galloway earned a heavy rebuke for a “biased and unbalanced” show on the Salisbury poisoning affair. Ofcom found “serious breaches” of the broadcasting code. People who disagreed with his “dissident” views were dismissed as inmates of Broadmoor Hospital, which houses criminals with mental illness. Ofcom said Galloway’s fame as a radical did not exempt it from having to achieve due impartiality. Read more.

Drone arrest couple ‘may have strong privacy case’

The 24-hour shutdown of Gatwick Airport, caused by a drone, became a media law story when a man and woman were wrongly arrested for causing the havoc – and their names were widely published. The Mail on Sunday splash headline read: “Are these the morons who ruined Christmas?”

One commentator quoted by Press Gazette said their case had echoes of the coverage of the arrest of Sir Cliff Richard, for which he was awarded £210,000 damages against the BBC. He was never charged. The case reshaped the landscape regarding privacy and media freedom.

In a Guardian blog, Professor Roy Greenslade said the affair was reminiscent of the case of Christopher Jefferies, the innocent man who suffered character assassination in the media after being briefly detained in connection with a Bristol murder. But he also noted the public interest in disclosure.

The same Press Gazette report quoted Gill Phillips, the Guardian’s director of editorial legal services, warning that privacy claims were now taking the place of defamation cases – with smaller but still punitive costs involved. Privacy cases offered no defence of truth, and ambiguity over the potential defence of public interest.

Read more:

Couple wrongly arrested over Gatwick drone chaos could have ‘strong’ privacy claim against newspapers in wake of Sir Cliff ruling

Couple in drone incident hit out at media coverage of arrest but press point to police farce

MPs repeat call for ‘Cliff’s Law’ to stop suspects being named before charge after Gatwick drone front pages

The press ruins Christmas for former drone suspects – Roy Greenslade

Discover Leveson website explores inquiry detail

A website called Discover Leveson provides rich background and insight into all that emerged during the Leveson Inquiry into standards in the press, following the phone hacking scandal. It includes the full report, but also lots of fascinating detail. Find it here:

https://discoverleveson.com/

Outrage as gag order blocks #MeToo story

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An injunction to stop the Daily Telegraph exposing alleged sexual and racial abuse by a businessman was “a devastating blow” to press freedom, the paper said in six pages of coverage.

The Court of Appeal granted an injunction to stop the paper naming the “leading businessman”, because the story probably arose from a breach of non-disclosure agreements – in which employees are paid money to stay silent.

The Telegraph said the ruling was “contrary to the age-old principle against prior restraint of the press”, which traditionally said the media should not be prevented from publishing stories that people wished to suppress – on the basis that they could be sued if the story was unjustified.

The editor said he was confident the junction would be overturned.

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Prime Minister Theresa May said in the Commons that NDAs were being used unethically. Labour MP Jess Phillips said: “It seems that our laws allow rich and powerful men to pretty much do whatever they want as long as they can pay to keep it quiet.”

Telegraph stories: 
The British #MeToo scandal which cannot be revealed
Opinion: The public have a right to know when the powerful seek to gag the vulnerable

Press Gazette:
Telegraph gagged by injunction

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Street photographers ‘at risk’ from GDPR

Publishing candid street photography may fall foul of the General Data Protection Regulation introduced in May 2018, a number of writers have speculated. Facial features and even the fact that someone was in a particular location are now classed as personal data, meaning consent must be sought for “processing” images: a problem for photographers whose work involves snapping unsuspecting people. The impact of the law will become clear over time. Read more