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.
Journalists might have their access to court papers limited in advance of hearings because of “irresponsible” reporting, a judge warned. Note: Scotland has distinct laws (HoldTheFrontPage, August 2014). Read more
Bribery, misconduct in public office, access to court material and changes in the law affecting the media are covered in the new, 22nd edition of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists. The new areas of law include access to court material, coroners’ rules, reporting restrictions in the magistrates’ courts, and the Defamation Act 2013 (UK Press Gazette, June 2014). Read more
Co-author Mike Dodd wrote that journalists were at increasing risk of being prosecuted, rather than merely sued, because of new laws such as the Bribery Act and others prompted by new technology (HoldTheFrontPage). Read more
The Guardian gained access to an internal company document by arguing that it had been referred to in court documents and should therefore be in the public domain. UK Press Gazette said in April 2014 that the ruling broke new ground; it would enable The Guardian to throw light on whether the company properly investigated a sexual assault claim. Read more
Journalists should be given copies of skeleton arguments presented to court in writing, a judge said (UK Press Gazette, March 2014). Read more
Journalists can ask to see paperwork – and pictures, etc – that forms part of the evidence in a court case, even if it’s not read out or shown in court. But it’s not clear whether they’d have the protection of privilege when using them for stories, reported the HoldTheFrontPage law column in March 2014. Read more
From HoldTheFrontPage, October 2013: A judge ruled that a newspaper did not have qualified privilege protection for a report based on court documents, because it was not balanced and therefore public interest did not apply. Malice was found because the paper later failed to correct its online story. Read more