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Breach of confidence

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Wikileaks: the big question

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

In all of the controversy about Wikileaks, one central question seems to remain unresolved: how should we pronounce “Assange”? Is it “an” as in “dance” or “blancmange” or “flange”? [Update: these sites suggest that the first is correct]. The main lesson of the Wikileaks saga for me is that we should be skeptical of government assertions that the […]

UK Parliamentary committee recommends reform of media regulation

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

The British Culture, Media and Sport Committee has released its report into press standards, privacy and libel. Recommendations: Privacy tort: No change. In particular, no legal requirement for the media to give notice to people who’s privacy they’re about to invade in an upcoming story, though a failure to provide such notice should hike any […]


Monday, October 19th, 2009

Heavy-hitting UK libel law firm Carter-Ruck has been getting some bad press lately. The Guardian reported that Carter-Ruck (famously referred to as “Carter-Fuck” by its nemesis Private Eye) had gagged it from reporting Parliamentary proceedings. What’s more, the gagged material related to a report concerning a toxic waste spill by giant oil company Trafigura. And […]

Secret judgment lifts lid on other secret judgment

Friday, July 31st, 2009

You might have missed it, but last week news emerged that Kirstin Dunne-Powell has obtained an injunction against Tony Veitch to prevent him publicly disclosing private and confidential material about her. Apparently she filed for the injunction shortly after Veitch pleaded guilty, back in April. That evening, Veitch had told Close Up that he “did […]


Friday, July 10th, 2009

For anyone who’s missed it: a fascinating expose of journalistic practices at News of the World. They hire private investigators to illegally hack public figures’ mobile phones; try to pass it off as a one-off lapse by a rogue journalist if caught out; and if sued pay out enormous sums as hush money in confidential […]

Veitch injunction

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Who would have guessed it? (Not me). The injunction barring the media from publishing the information released by the police under the Official Information Act, seems to be based on breach of confidence. The Veitch team (headed up by heavyweight litigator Jack Hodder SC) argued that Veitch was not consulted on the release; he had […]

How to shut down speech on the internet. Maybe.

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Sebastian Hoegl, a masters student from Germany in my media law seminar, made a startling suggestion this week. Since we all access the internet via an ISP (we put in a web address, the ISP hives off, collects the data, and sends it to our computers), then the ISPs are publishing that material to us. […]

Picking up the Bill II

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

So now John Key is accusing Labour of being behind the “bugging” of conversations at the cocktail party. He suggested on Morning Report this morning that the repeated questions put to Bill English about Kiwibank sounded like someone was trying to set him up. (Key is also throwing in the suggestion that Labour was behind Nicky […]

Picking up the Bill

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Did whoever surreptitiously recorded Bill English break the law? What about the media who published the conversation or its contents? It’s a crime to tape a conversation between other people if the circumstances indicate that one of the conversers wants it to be private (section 216B of the Crimes Act). I have no idea how […]

Your news leader

Friday, February 29th, 2008

I’ve just come back from the injunction hearing. The application has been adjourned for 7 days to allow the defendants to look at the documentation (which they’ve only just received) and work out what position to adopt. This is pretty standard. The injunctions are continued in the meantime. There are two sets of proceedings: one […]

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