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#iq2privacy: Privacy, the press, and Max Mosley

September 7th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Press freedom and ethics

Journalism.co.uk will be at tonight’s ‘Sex, bugs and videotape’ debate organised by Intelligence Squared. Given this week’s renewed focus on phone hacking at the News of the World and debates on the privacy of footballers and public interest, tonight’s proceedings are pretty timely.

Proposing the motion that the private lives of public figures deserve more protection from the press will be Rachel Atkins, a partner at Schillings law firm; and Max Mosley, no stranger to the News of the World and secret videotaping himself.

Speaking against the motion are Tom Bower, journalist and author of books on Robert Maxwell and Richard Desmond; and Ken MacDonald QC, defence lawyer and former director of public prosecutions.

You can follow tweets from the event with the hashtag #iq2privacy or in the liveblog below:

Sex, bugs and videotape – privacy and the media debate

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Inforrm Blog: William Hague reports ‘postively damaging to public interest’

September 2nd, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Press freedom and ethics

An interesting analysis from the International Forum for Responsible Media Blog (Inforrm) on the William Hague and Christopher Myers story and the media’s role in it:

The approach of some sections of the media to this story was not only irresponsible but is also, in seems to us, positively damaging to the public interest. If talented and accomplished politicians like Mr Hague are subject to rumour and innuendo of this kind they could be forgiven for thinking that a career in public life is not worth it. Of course the media should be scrutinising the decisions of elected politicians – including their decisions about the employment of advisers. What they should not be doing is sniping at their private lifes [sic] – forcing them to reveal matters which are deeply private and personal. The lack of public interest or benefit is plain.

Full post on Inforrm at this link…

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English PEN director describes ‘careful balancing act’ of libel reform

Jonathan Heawood, director of English PEN, part of a coalition of libel reform campaigners in the UK, has a detailed post on the International Forum for Responsible Media (Inforrm) blog about the NGO and its stance on the public interest defence in libel reform.

He discusses the criticisms the group has faced in relation to its campaign from both sides and the difficulty of finding a balance accepted by everyone.

Nonetheless, both organisations, and our coalition partners at Sense about Science, have been routinely attacked throughout our campaign for libel reform for promoting a ‘defamers’ charter’, that would give the media a licence to print defamatory stories without restraint.

Needless to say, this has never been our intention. As human rights charities, we recognise the need – in the words of Alastair Mullis and Andrew Scott – to ‘strike a fair balance between private reputation and public information.’ Their suggestion that this has never been a ‘motivating factor’ for us seems ungrounded.

I have to report that, when we have attempted to strike this balance too carefully, we have been attacked from the other side for weakening the cause of libel reform. The course of public benefit never has run smooth.

He goes on to outline his hopes for the future government libel bill, discussing the scope of the Reynolds defence and burden of proof for both claimant and defendant.

I would suggest that we begin a new Libel Bill by defining the tort as the publication of inaccurate and damaging material about an identifiable individual or corporate entity. We would then require claimants to show that the publication is inaccurate and damaging. Only if claimants had been able to show this would the court ask respondents to mount a defence, based on one of the three headings of truth, honest opinion or public interest.

See his full post here…

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