Media Law

We have a strong reputation in all aspects of Media Law.  This is a specialised area in which we have considerable experience, covering issues such as

  • Reputation Management
  • Misuse of Information
  • Privacy (including phone hacking)
  • Defamation – including libel and slander

We have been at the forefront of the allegations of phone hacking against News International and Mirror Group Newspapers, and have successfully represented a number of claimants.

We successfully represented Alan Yentob and Paul Gascoigne in claims of Phone Hacking against the Mirror Group Newspapers securing over £250,000 damages in May 2015.

We have acted for a number of high profile clients concerning their reputation, breaches of privacy, libel or slander, including sports personalities, agents and politicians. 

A good reputation can take a long time to establish, but can be damaged overnight by the publication of a defamatory article.  In such a situation clear and expert advice is necessary.  We can help you protect your reputation and privacy, and where necessary or appropriate can seek pre-publication injunctions.

CASE UPDATE:

STEEL & SHAMASH PRIVACY - PHONE HACKING LITIGATION: Steel & Shamash are representing Alan Yentob and Paul Gascoigne in the phone hacking trial which began on 2 March 2015.

The case of Various Claimants (Phone Hacking) v MGN Limited is being heard before Mr Justice Mann HJ in Court 15 of the Rolls Building, who is tasked with deciding the phone hacking claims brought against Mirror Group Newspapers by Alan Yentob, Paul Gascoigne, Sadie Frost, Lauren Alcorn, Robert Ashworth, Lucy Taggart, Shobna Gulati and Shane Roche.

What is the law of hacking?

The act of intercepting someone’s telephone calls may attract both criminal and civil penalties.

Criminal Penalties

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (‘RIPA’) is the main criminal statute dealing with phone hacking. Section 1 of RIPA makes the unauthorised interception of communications a criminal offence. The offence covers fixed and mobile telephone lines, emails, texts and paper messages.

An offence under section 1 of RIPA is committed by a person who intentionally and without lawful authority ‘intercepts’ any communication ‘in the course of transmission’ by means of a public or private telecommunications system.

How does section 1 of RIPA apply to the phone hacking of your voicemail messages?

A person ‘intercepts’ a communication by making some or all of the content of a communication (in this case voicemail or text messages left on your phone or an emails left on your computer) available to a third party. In other words, making them available to someone other than the sender or the intended recipient.

The police have taken the view that section 1 of RIPA does not apply to voicemail messages that have already been listened to by the intended recipient. Therefore, it is only a criminal offence to access someone else’s voicemail messages if they have not been listened to.

Various forms of hacking may also be an offence under s. 48 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act, s. 1 of the Computer Misuse Act and s. 55 of the Data Protection Act.

Civil Liability for hacking

Possible civil remedies for hacking include actions for breach of confidence, breach of Article 8 rights under the Human Rights Act (the right to a private and family life), misuse of private information, breach of data protection and copyright violation. These are civil remedies are complex and require the advice of an experience media law practitioner.

Our media law team has acted for a number of high profile clients who have been hacked. There are a number of means by which we can help to obtain evidence of phone hacking. In particular, for those who were of interest to the tabloid media, details of hacking may have come to light as a result of the Metropolitan Police investigations known as Operation Weeting, Operation Pinetree and Operation Golding.

Information can also be sought from mobile phone providers. Those targeted may recall repeatedly receiving calls where the caller hangs up or calling their voicemail where the automated reply tells them that voicemail messages they have not listened to are described as being old messages. Other signs may be that the client receives notification of the security PIN being re-set or receiving a text message from mobile phone providers informing them that someone has attempted to do this.

What can Steel & Shamash do to protect your privacy?

There are now numerous ways to provide for effective protection of an individual’s privacy and dignity against the excessive intrusions by the media. These may include pre-publication injunctions and court actions but also effective and robust communication with the media to prevent unwarranted invasions of privacy.

Where you fear that the media may be threatening to disclose private and intrusive material, it is essential to take advice quickly. We have very considerable experience of all types of privacy, data protection and confidence claims.

See our latest phone hacking news:  

Wednesday 11th March 2015 – Latest Phone Hacking News

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31829338

Tuesday 10th March 2015 – Latest Phone Hacking News

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jun/10/alan-yentob-sunday-mirror-alleged-phone-hacking

Wednesday 4th March 2015 - Latest Phone Hacking News

http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2015/mar/04/mirror-group-phone-hacking-is-not-getting-headlines-it-deserves

Tuesday 3rd March 2015 - Latest Phone Hacking News

http://www.wsj.com/articles/trinity-mirrors-journalists-hacked-voice-mails-on-large-scale-lawyer-tells-u-k-court-1425412049

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31712894

Monday 2nd March 2015

Hacking trial starts in the High Court today. Various Claimants (Phone Hacking) v MGN Limited. A group of 8 individuals are attempting to apply for reporting restrictions. Steel & Shamash Solicitors represent Alan Yentob and Paul Gascoigne for this litigation.

https://inforrm.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/case-preview-various-claimants-v-mgn-ltd-mirror-phone-hacking-trial-to-begin-on-monday-2-march-2015/

http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/people/alan-yentob-sues-trinity-mirror-over-phone-hacking/5072944.article

Thursday 22nd January 2015 – Latest Phone Hacking News

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/hacking-by-mirror-worse-than-at-murdoch-papers-9996698.html

Please do contact our Media law team in the strictest confidence.

Gerald Shamash, Email: gerald.shamash@steelandshamash.co.uk