The Sunday Mirror hired detectives to keep illegal surveillance on the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, according to papers submitted to court as part of the phone hacking claims against the paper’s owners. News of the claim prompted press reform campaigners to complain that the full facts of the hacking scandal were not coming to light because of a government decision not to go ahead with the second part of the Leveson Inquiry into the conduct of the press. Read more from The Guardian here.
MPs blocked a Labour amendment to the Data Protection Bill aimed at reopening the Leveson Inquiry into the conduct of the press – despite an impassioned plea by former leader Ed Miliband about the promises made to victims of phone hacking. Watch it here.
A House of Lords vote calling for the second part of the Leveson Inquiry to commence was denounced as an attempt to curb press freedom. The Lords also narrowly voted for an inquiry into media conduct in relation to data protection, with the threat of draconian penalties. House of Commons approval would be needed for either step to be taken. Read more from Press Gazette, and The Guardian.
‘Ping pong’ threat as government hits back on press freedom
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock criticized the Lords’ actions, saying they would be a “hammer blow” to local newspapers. But some peers threatened a ping-pong battle with the Commons if the two Houses disagreed, reported Press Gazette on 18 January 2018.
Note: this story was uploaded before the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation directive, which toughens up data protection law, from May 2018.
Long-running phone hacking investigations came to an end after four years in December 2015, the Crown Prosecution Service announced, after insufficient evidence in the latest crop of cases. Read more
The Times later reported that the second part of the Leveson Inquiry, into what happened at the News Of The World, was being quietly shelved because the ground had already been covered in criminal trials. Read more
Press Gazette reported that the Metropolitan Police had spent £40million investigating hacking (11 December 2015).
GQ magazine’s publisher was found guilty of contempt of court over a columnist’s piece about the Coulson hacking trial. A judge found substantial risk of serious prejudice. GQ’s lawyers had cleared it, reported The Guardian. Read more
Mirror Group Newspapers was told in June 2015 that it could not appeal against the highest damages ever awarded in privacy cases. Celebrities Sadie Frost, Paul Gascoigne and Shane Ritchie were among eight people subjected to prolonged phone hacking, Press Gazette reported. Read more
Denise Van Outen, John Leslie, Hugh Grant, Rhys Ifans… Press Gazette lists 98 people lined up to sue Mirror Group newspapers in the wake of the phone hacking scandal (May 2015). Read more