Yesterday, Teresa May, the Home Secretary, confirmed the Government would not seek to overturn an amendment supported by peers in the House of Lords in December 2012, regarding the removal of the word ‘insulting’ from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.
Section 5 states that: “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” could be deemed a criminal offence. The amendment to the Act was proposed last year by the former chief Constable of the West Midlands, Lord Dear, as part of the Crime and Courts Bill.#
With the end of the year quickly approaching we thought we’d do a round up on the big stories we’ve covered this year relating to the law and social media.
From Twitter users being sued, fined and jailed to Facebook cyber bullying, it’s been a very interesting year in the world of social media.
The fallout from the Lord McAlpine saga continues this week with reports that Sally Bercow, the Speaker’s wife, is being sued by McAlpine for a tweet Mrs Bercow made which linked McAlpine to the allegations of child abuse which were aired on BBC’s Newsnight.
The BBC reports that lawyers acting for Lord McAlpine have made a claim for damages limited to £50,000.
The long-awaited report by Lord Justice Leveson into the culture, practices and ethics of the press was published yesterday, and almost immediately a division emerged between the main political parties over his core recommendation – a statutory ‘underpinning’ for a new system of press regulation that is entirely independent of newspaper editors and proprietors.
Lord Leveson, an Appeal Court judge, was thoroughly critical of press behaviour in recent years. He cited the cases of people caught up in tragic news stories through no fault of their own who were treated merely as grist to the mill by several newspapers. For example, two families that lost a child in terrible circumstances, the Dowlers and the McCanns.
Former Tory treasurer, Lord McAlpine, is planning legal action against ITV for up to £500,000 after the TV station accidentally made false allegations linking him to child abuse public, according to The Telegraph.
McAlpine’s solicitors will reportedly begin negotiations with ITV after This Morning presenter Philip Schofield handed Prime Minister Cameron a list of alleged paedophiles on-air and certain names on the list were possibly visible to viewers.
Lord McAlpine, the former treasurer of the Conservative Party, is considering legal action against Twitter users who named him as the senior Tory politician referred to in a BBC Newsnight report alleged to have abused a resident of a north Wales care home, according to The Telegraph.
A Newsnight program last week reported Steve Messham’s claims that he was shown a photograph of his abuser; a man who police told him was Lord McAlpine.
There was a disconcerting incident on daytime TV yesterday, as Phillip Schofield, from ITV’s This Morning programme, presented the Prime Minister, David Cameron, with a hand-written list of the names of Tory politicians he said were rumoured to be paedophiles.
The names had been collated by the presenter as the result of a few minutes perusing the internet. He had been looking for details of a scandal relating to abuse at children’s homes in north Wales during the 1970s and 1980s.
Comedian Frankie Boyle has won a defamation case against the Daily Mirror after the newspaper described him as racist in an article published in July last year, according to the BBC.
Boyle was awarded £50,650 by a High Court jury after deciding that the description was libellous, and another £4,250 for allegations that he had been “forced to quit” comedy show ‘Mock the Week’.
The Daily Mail has targeted Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs) after receiving a £130,000 bill for a defamation claim by actor Neil Morrissey which settled for just £15,000, according to The Press Gazette.
In early 2011 The Daily Mail alleged that Mr Morrissey had been banned from a local bar near his home in France for drunken behaviour.
A lawsuit filed against Sacha Baron Cohen and David Letterman by a Palestinian shopkeeper who was branded a terrorist in the 2009 movie Bruno has been settled, according to The Telegraph.
Ayman Abu Aita claimed he was tricked into appearing in an interview with Baron Cohen, who led him to believe he was being interviewed about peace activism.