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Court: Queen's Bench Division (Media & Communications List)

Daily Telegraph apology for Melania Trump article not defamatory of author

Burleigh v Telegraph Media Group Limited [2020] EWHC 2359 (QB)

The High Court has issued a preliminary ruling holding that an apology published by the Defendant in The Daily Telegraph was not defamatory of the Claimant. The Claimant wrote an article about Mrs Melania Trump which was published by the Defendant in The Daily Telegraph in January 2019. Shortly after this, the Defendant published an […]

Defendant found in contempt by breaching injunction against the harassment of a judge

Oliver v Shaikh [2020] EWHC 2253 (QB)

In December 2019 the High Court found that the Defendant was responsible for posting on various websites a vast amount of abusive and harassing material directed at the Claimant. The principal vehicle for this abuse was the website “Judges Behaving Badly”, which the Judge found was controlled by the Defendant. The Judge granted an injunction against the Defendant to restrain him from further harassing the Claimant. The injunction required the Defendant to remove material from the JBB Website and several other websites.

The Claimant contends that the Defendant has breached the injunction and that his breaches are continuing.

Held: the judge finds, to the criminal standard of proof, that the Defendant has breached the Injunction Order in respect of the breaches. A further date will be fixed at which the Court will consider the penalty to be imposed for the findings of contempt against the Defendant.

Ben Silverstone was involved in this case

High Court hands down judgment in defamation challenge to statements made by Jeremy Corbyn on the Andrew Marr Show

Millett v Corbyn [2020] EWHC 1848 (QB)

This was a claim for defamation arising out of a statement made by Jeremy Corbyn on the Andrew Marr Show at the time Jeremy Corbyn was the leader of the Labour Party. Mr Corbyn’s interview with Andrew Marr concerned, amongst other subjects, allegations that Mr Corbyn was an anti-Semite. Mr Corbyn made the Statement in response to questions from Mr Marr in relation to a speech which Mr Corbyn had made some years earlier. Mr Millett alleged that the words spoken by Mr Corbyn in the Programme were defamatory of him and their publication caused and is likely to cause serious harm to his reputation.

The Court found that Mr Millett was being accused of abusive behaviour in relation to a public speaker on a controversial topic. This is an accusation of a type of conduct which is contrary to the values of a modern democracy where freedom of speech is a cherished value. Further, the behaviour of which he was accused was of such a level of seriousness (at the first meeting to which Mr Corbyn made reference) as to involve the police in potentially ejecting Mr Millett and the other individual (suggesting criminal misconduct). Again, this suggests conduct falling below the standards expected of citizens in modern British society.

The Court also considered that there was both a personal defamation as to Mr Millett’s character and a professional form of defamation in relation to how he was said to behave in his profession as a person attending and reporting on meetings of the type in issue.

High Court awards remedies in Data Protection Act claim

Aven, Fridman & Khan v Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd [2020] EWHC 1812 (QB)

This judgment followed a trial of a claim for correction of the record and other remedies for breach of statutory duties imposed by the Data Protection Act 1998. Orbis, an English company established by two British former public officials, had produced the ‘Steele Dossier’ in 2016. Buzzfeed News had published an online article and made accessible, via link, sixteen memoranda from the Dossier. Within that dossier, the claimants alleged that ‘Memorandum 112’ contained personal data relating to them, which are inaccurate and had been proceeded by Orbis in ways which are unfair, unlawful or otherwise non-compliant with the First Data Protection Principle. The claim sought a declaration that the data are inaccurate, orders for blocking, erasure, destruction and rectification of the data, an order that Orbis inform those to whom it disclosed Memorandum 112 of the inaccuracies, and compensation.

The Court directed a rectification of Orbis’ records, and awarded compensation of £18,000 to each of the first and second claimants for the loss of autonomy, distress and reputational damage caused by the breaches of duty. The Court did not consider any further remedy would be required.

High Court rules service of Claim Form as ineffective, as served late.

Piepenbrock v Associated Newspapers Limited [2020] EWHC 1708 (QB)

This case discusses issues that can arise when a claimant leaves service of a Claim Form until the last moment. The Claimant issued an Application Notice seeking (1) relief from sanction under CPR 3.9; (2) correction of an error of procedure under CPR 3.10; (3) an order extending time for service of the Claim Form under CPR 7.6; (4) an order for service by an alternative means/at an alternative place under CPR 6.15; (5) an order dispensing with service of the Claim Form under CPR 6.16; and (6) summary judgment pursuant to CPR 24.

Held: the Defendants are entitled to the declaration that service of the Claim Form had been ineffective. The Claim Form was not served during its period of validity. In consequence, the Court has no jurisdiction over the Claimant’s claim. It follows that I should also formally dismiss the Claimant’s application for summary judgment.

Chris Buttler was involved in this case.