Monthly Archives: February 2013

Fears over future of Defamation Bill

Lord Lester has warned that amendments proposed to the Defamation Bill by Lord Puttnam are placing the future of the Bill in jeopardy. It was Lord Lester’s Private Member’s Bill that originally put defamation on the parliamentary agenda and led to the government-sponsored bill. The Bill seeks to modernise and codify the law of libel. However, the proposed amendments by Lord Puttnam (which have been approved by the House of Lords) would establish a ‘defamation recognition commission’ and a ‘specialist arbitration service’, which could require media organisations to obtain ‘pre-clearance’ for stories from an independent regulator or risk facing exemplary damages. The amendments are seen by some commentators as a response to the government’s failure to react appropriately to the Leveson Inquiry. The government has indicated it will block Puttnam’s amendments. Its means of doing this are limited and thus the amendments may result in the long-awaited Defamation Bill being scrapped.

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Former solicitor found in contempt of court over McCann claims

Former solicitor Tony Bennett has been found in contempt of court for flagrantly breaching undertakings he had previously made to the court promising that he would not repeat allegations that Gerry and Kate McCann were guilty of, or suspected of, having caused the death of their daughter Madeline and had then disposed of her body and lied about what had happened.

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Naomi Campbell succeeds in Elephant Polo libel claim

supermodel Naomi Campbell has succeeded in her libel claim against the Daily Telegraph. The claim related to a story in November 2012 that she had planned to organise an elephant polo tournament for her boyfriend’s 50th birthday party. The story included criticism of the plans by the animal welfare group PETA and explained how elephant polo was a cruel sport that involved the violent abuse of the animals.

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Breach of a restraint order can constitute the offence of perverting the course of justice

In R v Kenny [2013] EWCA Crim 1, the Defendant appealed against his conviction for perverting the course of justice. The offence related to the false categorisation of a loan as a gift in order to attempt to circumvent a restraint order obtained by the Crown under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The restraint order prohibited the defendant from dealing with or disposing of his assets. The Defendant argued that breach of a restraint order could only be dealt with by proceedings for contempt of court. The Court of Appeal disagreed indicating that, depending on the particular circumstances of the case, the offence of perverting the course of justice could be made out.   Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.

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Google can be liable as publisher

The Court of Appeal has handed down judgment in the landmark case of Tamiz “v- Google. The appeal brought by Brett Wilson LLP on behalf of the Claimant Payam Tamiz is the first time that the Court of Appeal has addressed the issue of internet service providers (‘IsPs’) liability in defamation. Whilst the appeal was ultimately dismissed on ˜Jameel grounds, the Court of Appeal rejected the finding of Mr Justice Eady in the High Court that Google Inc, in relation to its Blogger service, was not a publisher at common law. It also disagreed with Eady Js finding that Google Inc had an unassailable defence to Mr Tamizs claim under section 1 of the Defamation Act 1996. Mr Tamiz is actively considering with us the possibility of appealing to the supreme Court.

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