Prince Harry to sue Sun, News of the World, and the Daily Mirror for phone-hacking

Following issuing a strong statement denouncing the British Press on 01 October 2019 Prince Harry has launched his own legal claim against news outlets the Sun, News of the World and Daily Mirror for phone hacking.

The case comes following his spouse Meghan Markle issuing proceedings against the Mail on Sunday on grounds of misuse of private information, breach of copyright and the Data Protection Act 2018.

Many practitioners will be aware of the leading phone hacking case of Gulati, which covered historic News of the World phone hacking. This set the bar for damages at £10,000 per year of serious phone hacking. The case set out standardised elements and covered awards for a variety of famous claimants.

Prince Harry is set to be the latest of these claimants in a series of litigation the likes which is unprecedented from the Royal Family. It is now apparent why his statement was so strong worded. This is the most significant action of the Royal Family against the press to date.

Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle to sue the Associated Newspapers

The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, is suing Associated Newspapers (parent company of the Mail on Sunday) for misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.

The official statement on the matter can be found on the Duke and Duchess’  website. The action comes after the Mail on Sunday ran an article in February 2019 publishing a personal letter from the Duchess to her father.

The Duchess has turned to specialist reputation management law firm Schillings, which issued the following statement:

“We have initiated legal proceedings against the Mail on Sunday, and its parent company Associated Newspapers, over the intrusive and unlawful publication of a private letter written by the Duchess of Sussex, which is part of a campaign by this media group to publish false and deliberately derogatory stories about her, as well as her husband. Given the refusal of Associated Newspapers to resolve this issue satisfactorily, we have issued proceedings to redress this breach of privacy, infringement of copyright and the aforementioned media agenda”.

The case is being privately funded with any proceeds being donated to an anti-bullying charity.

Determining the meaning of a statement in defamation proceedings before the Supreme Court – Stocker v Stocker [2019] UKSC 17

The Supreme Court has heard a case on establishing the meaning of the statement “he tried to strangle me”. The case concerned and exchange between Mrs Stocker and an Ms Bligh (then Mr Stocker’s partner) on Facebook in which Mrs Stocker alleged that Mr Stocker tried to strangle her.

In this context, Mrs Stocker also alleged that Mr Stocker had been removed from the house following issuing threats against her, that there were some “gun issues” and that the police had determined he had breached a non-molestation order. Continue reading

The end of the kiss and tell story? – PJS v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2016] UKSC 26

The case of PJS concerned an application for an interlocutory injunction. PJS was well known in the entertainment business and married to YMA, who was similarly well known. They had young children. In 2007 or 2008 PJS met AB and had occasional sexual encounters with them despite AB having a partner, CD. In December 2011 PJS had a three-way sexual encounter with AB and CD following which the sexual relationship with PJS and AB came to an end. Continue reading

Copyright

Copyright under English law is primarily established under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. Copyright can extend to protect videos and images taken by you on your devices.

In such circumstances, these videos and images are protected 70 years from the end of the life of the taker. This can function to protect photographs and videos that you have taken from use by third parties. By enforcing your copyright ownership you can control who has the right to use and edit the images and/or footage in question. This is usually in the form of a cease and desist letter notifying the third party of your ownership of the material whilst asking that they stop usage as soon as possible.

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Press complaints

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (“IPSO”) has its own Editors’ Code of Practice applicable to signatory newspapers. This currently includes most commercial papers.

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The ISPO Code contains a framework for professional standards within the press and is the cornerstone of the voluntary-self regulatory regime entered into by publishers. Editors and publishers are responsible to adherence with the Code and complaints can be made to IPSO should any violations be made. Continue reading

Ben Stokes and Gareth Thomas in the press – Protecting privacy in the spotlight

Many will have heard of the Sun’s recent egregious intrusion into the private and family life of cricketer Ben Stokes. The offending article by the Sun delves into the family life of the famous cricketer in a manner which could be seen to breach the privacy rights of Stokes and his family.

The incident has placed the conduct of English journalists, particularly the Sun, under the spotlight. INFORRM has an excellent post on the issue.

Stokes statement on the article, released on Twitter, can be found here.

Many will also be aware of the exposing of rugby player Gareth Thomas’ HIV status following black mail attempts. This move is highly invasive and could be considered a misuse of private information.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has commented on the incidents. This notes how the Editor’s Code operates to protect individuals in such scenarios and condemns the sensationalist headlines of articles  intruding upon privacy rights.

Revisiting the right to be forgotten, the NT1 and NT2 case

The right to be forgotten or right to erasure under data protection legislation and enshrined from the Google Spain case allows significant protection of information regarding the individual. In this post, we consider the seminal case of NT1 and NT2 which is illustrative of this fact. Continue reading

Privacy concerns around Amazon’s Ring

“A home security product upscaled and diversified into law enforcement and integrated with facial recognition software brings with it some serious privacy concerns.”

What is the Ring?

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The Ring is Amazon’s bestselling smart security device product line. The most notable of which is the Ring doorbell which allows users to monitor movement by their front doors, video and receive mobile notifications whenever someone presses the doorbell. Users can also benefit from an App which is installed on their mobile, monitors local news and allows social media style sharing with other Ring users.

Ring additionally offers security services, cross-selling into the wider security service market.

Ring and law enforcement  

Recent controversy was sparked when it was found that the Ring in partnering with over 400 police departments in the United States. The extent of the Ring’s collaborative efforts extend to targeting ad words to users encouraging that they share live video feed footage with law enforcement. This in and of itself is a significant extension in police surveillance meriting further legislative scrutiny.

However, pair this with the fact that the Ring may integrate and encourage the use of the Amazon’s Rekognition facial recognition software product and the companies dubbing of the service as “the new neighborhood watch”- it becomes all the more disconcerting.

It is well-established that people’s likeness is considered personal data and that the recording of individuals without their consent is potentially invasive. There are also civil liberties concerns regarding the police acquiring these live video feeds for their own use.

This has drawn the attention of the Senator for Massachusetts, Edward Markey, who recently published a letter sent to Amazons CEO Jeffery Bezos, highlighting civil liberties concerns with the Ring. This highlights issues previously raised in the United Kingdom in relation to the use of facial recognition software; its potential to racially profile individuals. Whilst this was considered by the Administrative Court to be too an intangible argument lacking sufficient supporting data, further scrutiny would be most welcome.

And it looks like further scrutiny seems forthcoming. In his letter Senator Markey highlights 10 key concerns around the Ring system, demanding a response from the Amazon CEO by 26 September 2019. We highly recommend readers consider the letter in its entirety here.

Breach of confidence

Breach of confidence occurs when confidential information, as shared between parties in a manner which is confidential, is shared with a third party in breach of that duty of confidence. What imposes the duty to protect the information in a breach of confidence case is a pre-existing confidential relationship between the parties.

The case of Coco v A.N. Clark involved the claimant looking to bring a new form of moped to the market, parts of which were then sourced from a third party in breach of obligations of confidence. This case underpinned the three elements of the tort and highlights the most common scenario breach of confidence claims arise in; those involving business secrets and negotiations.

In relation to privacy breach of confidence tends to cover confidential conversations and communications where the nature of the information itself attracts a reasonable expectation of privacy. This may relate to communications with lawyers or medical professionals, for example.

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