Monday media law mop up: Clegg on libel, NOTW suspension & Twitter debates

The week’s media law & ethics stories that caught Meeja Law’s eye…

Phone hacking
Big developments in this story, as the Guardian revealed the suspension of News of the World’s assistant editor (news), Ian Edmondson, “following a “serious allegation” related to phone hacking.” More on the Guardian’s phone hacking story page and at:

Twitter errors
As reported on here earlier today, false reports that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had died in the Arizona shooting quickly spread on Twitter after they were tweeted by news organisations including NPR, Reuters and the BBC. All this raised the question of how best to correct the record on Twitter, while maintaining journalistic transparency.

Contempt & Yeates murder
Questionable reporting around Christopher Jefferies’ arrest was addressed in last week’s round up, but more has been said about issues of contempt:

  • Media Guardian>>Media treat contempt law with contempt
  • Inforrm>>Opinion: What’s to stop the press ‘monstering’ the next Jo Yeates suspect?
  • Media Guardian>> National papers defy contempt law because the attorney general won’t act

Speculation over potential legal actions has started too. Additionally, Somerset Police took an interesting approach to PR when it reportedly banned ITN from its press conference:

Julian Assange & Wikileaks
Assange is due to appear in court on January 11 to decide whether he will be extradited to Sweden and is reported to have signed a book deal. But there’s some confusion over another book, apparently by the Guardian, listed on the Waterstones site with a subtitle of “The Rise and Fall of Wikileaks”. Wikileaks live blogger Greg Mitchell (a journalist definitely worth following) notes that: “Ian Katz, deputy editor of The Guardian, tweets me re: upcoming WikiLeaks book … from the paper:  “Guardian book title listed by Amazon was wrong. Not sure where it came from.” I’ll drop the press office a line to find out about that. The book is called ‘WIKILEAKS: Inside Julian Assange’s war on secrecy’ and more details can be found here.

In Wikileaks news of wider relevance is the discovery that the federal court had issued a subpoena for Twitter to supply account details of people involved in Wikileaks. More here:

A couple of things to flag up here. Inforrm’s position on libel reform discussed here (there will be an event tomorrow evening on the subject); the number of actual defamation trials that take place in England & Wales; and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s use of the issue in his civil liberties speech, critiqued by libel reform campaigner Evan Harris here.

New tools
I’ve been having a play with social question site Quora. No doubt there will be interesting media law issues for the service to consider, as Stephen Kuncewicz comments on Twitter this morning. In the meantime, I’ve posed a question about the best legal resources for online publishers and social media users.

You can find a full stream of aggregated media law news via @medialawUK on Twitter; and Meeja Law tweets go out via @meejalaw. Contact me via @jtownend or

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One Response to Monday media law mop up: Clegg on libel, NOTW suspension & Twitter debates

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