Take 10 #2

Published on 30 June 2020

Welcome to RPC's media and communications law update. This issue reports on key media developments and the latest cases.

News items

The Supreme Court handed down judgment in the libel claim Serafin v Malkiewicz earlier this month

Lord Wilson, delivering the unanimous decision, overturned the CA's findings on s4, clarifying – finally – that the statutory defence is a departure from Reynolds, though the common law can still be consulted for guidanceRead more

In JQL v NTP, Lewis J heard a claim for misuse of private information and breach of confidence over a Facebook post published by the Defendant, the Claimant's uncle

The post was addressed to another family member but referenced the Claimant and stated "you unlike them…[have] never had treatment for mental health and self harm". Read more

Charles Bronson, apparently "Britain's most notorious prisoner", who has been incarcerated for almost 45 years, has been permitted to bring a claim against the MoJ to have his next parole hearing in public

Under current rules, parole hearings must be private, which Mr Bronson contends is a 'blanket ban' and therefore unlawful as it breaches his right to a fair trial. Read more

In an Immigration and Asylum Tribunal judgment, a convicted criminal has been granted anonymity to prevent the press from reporting his identity over concern that it may have an adverse impact on his family

The man was found guilty of conspiring to supply cannabis in 2013 and was facing deportation to Nigeria. Read more

A judgment on meaning was handed down by Laing J in Warnes and Robson v Forge.  Amongst other points, Laing J considered whether an imputation that someone is mentally ill can be defamatory, ultimately finding that it depends on the broader context

The words in the present case, that the second Claimant is "'mentally deranged and in need of psychiatric help', and that he is best ignored by everyone" were not a "stand-alone diagnosis of the state of C2's mental health" but were designed to persuade the reader to shun and avoid the second Claimant by ignoring what he said, and were therefore plainly capable of being defamatory. Read more

Maria Ressa, a high-profile ex-CNN journalist, has been convicted in the Manila Regional Trial Court of "cyber libel" over an article linking an influential businessman to organised crime

Ms Ressa is the executive editor of Rappler, which published the article. Publication was four months before the criminal offence of cyber libel came into force in 2012 but was held to have been re-published in 2014 when it was revised to correct a typo. Read more


Mark Zuckerberg has announced a new feature that will allow Facebook users to turn off political adverts

In an article he wrote for USA Today, he revealed that the function was aimed at "those of you who've already made up your minds and just want the election to be over". Read more

Since the unrest following the death of George Floyd, the US Press Freedom Tracker has counted 430+ total press freedom "incidents" including at least 59 arrests and over 200 assaults by police

Trump's administration has been largely held accountable for the incidents, as reported by the Guardian. Read more

Google is being sued for $5bn in a US class action suit for tracking the plaintiffs' browsing when in 'private mode'

'Incognito' allows users to browse without their own device saving their data, but the websites the user visits can store the data using Google Analytics without the user's knowledge or explicit consent. Read more

England squad footballer Marcus Rashford has been widely applauded for using his media profile to prompt political change

Drawing on his own identity as "a Black man from a low-income family", Rashford initiated a campaign, including tweeting an open letter addressed to Parliament, seeking to extend a free school meal scheme over the summer, resulting in the government U-turning on their previously stated policy. Read more

Cara Delevingne is the latest A-lister to be dragged into Johnny Depp's litigious campaign to protect his reputation in the US and UK following domestic abuse allegations made by his ex-wife Amber Heard and NGN

According to a deposition in his US claim seen by the MailOnline, Ms Delevingne allegedly had a threesome with Ms Heard and Elon Musk (who Mr Depp's lawyer has suggested is secretly funding Ms Heard). Read more

Quote of the fortnight: 

"Given the high level of public concern about the coronavirus pandemic, it is clearly legitimate and in the public interest for broadcasters to question public policy and the rationale behind it and to robustly hold the Government to account, but in doing so they must ensure compliance with the code" – from Ofcom's decision not to take action regarding an interview on London Live with conspiracy theorist David Icke

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