A note

I am extremely sad to learn of the deaths of two people I had come to know through my research, and both contributed so much to their respective professional fields.

Walter Greenwood, described by HoldtheFrontPage as the ‘doyen of journalism training’, co-edited the invaluable journalism law text McNae’s for over 30 years. There are numerous tributes online, with affectionate comments from the many journalists he worked with over the years, following his death aged 87.

‘Walter’s enthusiasm was infectious, and his depth of knowledge awe inspiring’, said one. When I met him in person last year, following email correspondence, that was the impression I had too. Despite being well over retirement age he was still deeply engaged with media legal issues and his passion for the topic shone through. Press Association described how,

Although [his colleague, John] Brownlee retired some time ago, Greenwood never did, and his interest in the law and in the work of training journalists never dimmed.

When asked to recite a sentence of more than 30 words while being assessed following a recent stroke, Greenwood told his fellow law tutor Pat Hagan: “I gave them the briefest of introductions to the law of defamation.”

Also see the NCTJ’s tribute here.

John Tulloch, who died after a long illness aged 67, was also warmly remembered by colleagues. He was founder of the Lincoln School of Journalism and  head of the school from 2004-2012. I first met him at a journalism event in 2009 and since enjoyed a number of conversations with him over email and at subsequent conferences.

He gave an excellent and thought-provocative paper at last year’s Institute of Communication Ethics conference, which is published in a recent issue of Ethical Space.

In 2012 he gave me permission to feature his article on ‘Oiling a very special relationship – journalists, bribery and the detective police’ on Meeja Law here.

His ICE and Lincoln colleague, Professor Richard Lance Keeble has written a wonderful tribute here.

It quotes Dr Fiona Thompson, director of ICE, who said, “In ancient Greek writings, a term was used – dikaios – which means a just and honest man or, as Rudolf Bultmann translates it, ‘the quality and situation of being turned in the right direction’ – that’s what John did, turned us in the right direction.”

I only knew Walter and John a little, but was inspired by the work of both and very grateful to them for the time they took answering my questions and sharing ideas.

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Upcoming event: 26 October 2013 – NUJ and MRC Conference – ‘The Internet and the Law’

[Booking / full details at Eventbrite]

When: Saturday 26 October 2013, 10:00 – 19:00

Where: New Academic Building, Goldsmiths University of London, London SE14 6NW


Leveson, royal charter(s), libel reform – UK law is changing and its impact on the internet is yet to become clear. The recent controversy over the possible inclusion of blogs in the new exemplary damages provisions in the Crime and Courts Bill illustrated some of the issues and concerns.

While changes to libel law have been hailed as creating a wider space for free expression, the Lord McAlpine controversy showed how ignorant many social media users are about libel. And worse still, many users of Twitter and other social media believe it gives them the freedom to abuse and threaten other users, women in particular.

The NUJ New Media Industrial Council and the Media Reform Coalition at Goldsmiths, University of London, are holding a one-day conference on the internet and the law on 26 October.


Libel (10.30-12.00) – chaired by Judith Townend (Meeja Law)

Online abuse and threats (13:00-14:30) – chaired by Professor Yuri Obata (Visiting International Researcher at Goldsmiths)

Regulation (15:00-16:30) – chaired by Angela Philips (Media Reform Coalition)

Further speakers TBC.

Free entry for NUJ members and Goldsmiths students and staff. Book your place here.

Further details and contact information:

Donnacha DeLong
Email: donnacha.delong@talktalk.net

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What data should the Ministry of Justice open up?

The Ministry of Justice has listed 43 unpublished data-sets that could be opened up for public use.

It is part of a public consultation on the National Information Infrastructure (NII), a new initiative for improving government data.

The government is currently identifying which datasets should be included. For the MoJ, these include case management systems, language services information, custodial data and much more [listed below]. So far there is next to no feedback on these.

chaseIf you think these would be valuable open data sets, you need to create a data.gov.uk profile if you don’t already have one, and ‘add feedback’ under the dataset you’re interested in. You’ll be asked how opening the data will be beneficial to society/ the economy/public services etc. and to give some [public] comments.

That would probably also be the place to raise any concerns or suggestions about the way in which the data should be released.

Thanks to Max Froumentin at the MoJ for alerting me to this.

The unpublished datasets (listed alphabetically)

Posted in academic research, access to justice, courts, criminal law, data, digital open justice, education, freedom of information | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

What Leveson missed: 10th anniversary conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics – 25 October 2013

Last week journalist/lawyer David Allen Green asked how many of his Twitter followers had actually consulted the Leveson Inquiry report since its release.  The instant response was fairly muted and confined to a handful of academics and campaigners.

Whether or not this reaction was representative of actual interest in the report, the exchange served as a reminder of Lord Justice Leveson’s determination that his volumes would not end up gathering dust on a scholarly bookcase (or, considering the size and price of the report, as unopened PDF files in a forgotten folder).

What will be the legacy of the report? To what extent will his recommendations be implemented? Beyond this, what did he miss? The last question is the theme of an event at the Frontline Club in October that I am participating in. The keynote speakers include Jake Lynch, author of A Global Standard for Reporting Conflict, and Stewart Purvis, co-author of When Reporters Cross The Line.

Here are the details:

The 10th anniversary conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics, to be held at the Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, London W2 1OJ, on 25 October 2013, will explore some of the many crucial ethical issues which went missing during the Leveson Inquiry.

One of the keynotes is to be given by Jake Lynch, Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney and a Senior Research Fellow of the School of Communication at the University of Johannesburg. His paper is titled ‘Reporting conflict: The critical, realist approach’.

A selection of papers given at the conference will be published in a special conference issue of Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics.

Cost of attendance: £65; students £10. For more information contact Dr Fiona Thompson, Director, The Institute of Communication Ethics, 69 Glenview Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire BD18 4AR; email f.thompson287@gmail.com.

Current line up (and it is increasing all the time) includes:

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Jeremy Collins, Philip Cowan, Jake Lynch, John Mair, Jackie Newton, Deirdre O’Neill, Julian Petley, Judith Townend.

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Law and Media Review of the Legal Year 2012/13

A review of legal cases and legal developments over the legal year, from September 2012 (just before the beginning of the legal year proper) until the end of July 2013 can be found on the Inforrm blog. The Inforrm case tables have also been brought up to date: Media Law cases; Defamation cases; and Privacy cases.

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Media and communications at SLS 2013

A quick post to flag up the media and communication sessions at the Society of Legal Scholars Annual conference in Edinburgh, 3-6 September (early bird booking until 31 July), put together by section convenor Daithí Mac Síthigh (@macsitigh).  The Cyberlaw programme also looks great.

Tuesday 3rd September

A1: 14.00-15.30 (Special session on conference theme)

Ewa Komorek (Trinity College Dublin):
The problem which will not go away. Recent developments in the EU approach to media pluralism issue

Dimitrios Doukas (Belfast):
The Sky is not the (Only) Limit – Sports Broadcasting without Frontiers and the European Court of Justice

A2: 16.00-17.30

Alan Durant (Middlesex):
The DPP’s Interim guidelines (December 2012) on prosecuting communications via social media

Damien McCallig (Galway):
Intrusion into private grief: regulating the reporting and presentation of deceased persons in the modern media

Paul Bernal (East Anglia):
Defamation on Twitter: a defence of ‘responsible tweeting’

Wednesday 4th September

A3: 9-10.30

Yik Chan Chin (Hong Kong Baptist) & Yanbin Lu (Nottingham):
Defenses of Freedom of Expression in Chinese Right to Reputation Lawsuits

Päivi Tiilikka (Helsinki):
Margin of appreciation and balancing-criteria in the practise of the ECtHR when balancing the freedom of expression and right to private life – is there any consistency?

Jason Bosland (Melbourne)
Defamation, Statutory Reform and the Protection of Opinion in Australia and the United Kingdom

A4: 14.00-15.30 (Leveson Inquiry session, chaired by Tom Gibbons, Manchester)

Paul Wragg (Leeds):
Freedom of the Press after Leveson

Judith Townend (City):
An uncertain climate: Defamation, privacy and the resolution of disputes outside the courtroom

Karen Mc Cullagh (East Anglia):
Regulation of Investigative Journalism post Leveson

via Preview: media & communications at SLS 2013 at Lex Ferenda.

Posted in academic research, defamation, events, freedom of expression, human rights, leveson inquiry, media ethics, media law, media regulation, privacy | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Promotion: IBC Legal’s Protecting the Media 2013


Upcoming conference, 17th September 2013, Millennium Knightsbridge Hotel, London, UK

The ultimate review of key developments in the field of media law, featuring analysis of the impact of recent cases, such as: Leveson, Axel Springer/ Von Hannover (No.2) and Spelman v Express Newspapers.

Attendees will also benefit from discussion of the latest crucial issues, including:

  • Contempt and reporting restrictions
  • The post-Leveson landscape
  • The defamation bill
  • Privacy

For the agenda and to register go to:


Quote VIP code FKW82385MJL and save 10%

Posted in contempt of court, data protection, defamation, events, freedom of expression, human rights, journalism, leveson inquiry, media ethics, media law, phone hacking, privacy, promotion | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Eight months later: iCancer reaches fundraising target

Last autumn I posted something a bit off-topic for this blog, about the fundraising efforts of Dominic Nutt (the husband of a colleague and friend of mine at the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism, Glenda Cooper).

Dominic had been diagnosed with a Neuroendocrine tumour (NETs, also known as carcinoid tumours) which are very rare, which cannot be cured by drugs, chemotherapy or radiotherapy. He writes in the Telegraph today that so far, there is no sign that, following his operation, the cancer has come back.

Together with the author Alexander Masters, he set up the iCancer campaign, which has today announced that it has reached its target for the Oncological Virus Foundation, to enable further scientific research at Uppsala University in Sweden – with the help of 3,846 donors (significantly, £1.4 million was donated by a single donor, Vince Hamilton).

Information about the next stage of the project can be found here.

More details here:

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Coming soon: People Power – A user’s guide to democracy

peoplepowerAn “accessible guide to democracy in Britain” will be published by Bantam Press (Transworld) next month, covering topics including national and local government,  free speech, the internet and the rule of law.

The author of People Power, Dan Jellinek, is a journalist and co-founder of Headstar, a publisher specialising in technology and social issues (I met Dan when we briefly shared the same office space in Brighton and spoke to him about various media law related issues when he was writing the book).

Here’s the information, from the publisher’s site:

As protestors around the world risk their lives in pursuit of democracy, in the UK the word has never seemed so tarnished. Surveys regularly show our politicians are not liked, not trusted and not wanted. Voter turnout is shockingly low, and episodes such as the MPs’ expenses scandal serve to confirm the opinion that public officials are all as bad as each other.

So what is the answer?

Giving us unprecedented access to the corridors of power, Dan Jellinek provides a unique and accessible guide to democracy in Britain, explaining how its elements work – from national and local government to free speech, the internet and the rule of law – and the role that we, the public, need to play to keep the wheels turning.

If you want to know how your small actions can bring about big changes, how you can improve your lot and the lives of others, then you must read this book. Stand up and be counted. The power is in your hands.

It’s available to pre-order for 4 July here (ebook and hardback); details on the publisher’s site here.

Posted in access to justice, blogging, defamation, media law, media law resources, media regulation, press freedom | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment