Law, Justice and Journalism

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Event: 2 May 2014 – Media Power and Plurality: from hyperlocals to high-level policy

In City University London, Events, Journalism, Media policy, Media regulation, Research, Uncategorized on April 11, 2014 at 11:52 am

Policymakers throughout the world recognise the need to protect a diversity of voices and views in a democracy, but what does media plurality require in practice? How do you legislate to prevent undue concentration of media power? What interventions are needed to help new players flourish? How do you reconcile sustainable media businesses and a sufficiency of voices? How should policy approaches differ at national, regional and local level? The government’s consultation last year focused on media measurement, but there are far broader policy issues at stake and possible lessons to be learned from other countries.

  • Location: City University London (Room A130, College Building)
  • Time: Friday 2 May 2014, 8.45-5.15
  • Book your place

This conference, in the wake of recommendations from the Leveson Inquiry and from the House of Lords Communications Committee, will explore UK policy on media ownership and diversity, as well as possible manifesto commitments in the forthcoming general election. Other panels, featuring a range of leading academic, industry and policy practitioners, will look at UK and European policy, options for local and hyperlocal initiatives, and the potential for “charitable journalism”. The conference is organised by the University of Westminster’s Media Plurality and Power research project and hosted by the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism at City University London.

Tickets for this event are free and will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.



8.45 – Registration

9.15 – Keynote

10am – Panel 1 – Priorities for national policy

11.30 – Coffee

11.45 – Panel 2 – Subsidies, non-profits and charity: ideas for regeneration

1pm – Lunch

2pm – Panel 3 – Local media plurality: is it all doom and gloom?

3.30 – Tea

3.45 – Panel 4 – What can the UK learn from other countries?

5.15 – Close / thanks

R v Peacock: landmark trial redefines obscenity law

In Justice, Law on January 13, 2012 at 11:23 am

We can celebrate for the outcome in R v Peacock, argues Alex Antoniou, but obscenity law is not dead; at least, not yet

The Obscene Publications Act 1959 (OPA or the 1959 Act henceforth), passed over half a century ago, was quite recently wielded against Michael Peacock, a male escort professionally known as ‘sleazy Michael’, who had been accused of distributing obscene DVDs for gain. His determination to challenge this ‘arcane and archaic legislation’ was vindicated on 6 January 2012 when a unanimous jury in a landmark obscenity trial at Southwark Crown Court returned a not guilty verdict.

The facts

The defendant in R v Peacock was charged on indictment with six counts under the 1959 Act for distributing allegedly obscene DVDs. The recordings at issue had been advertised for sale on the Internet and Craigslist. Mr Peacock had been selling them from his flat in Brixton. Officers from SCD9, the Metropolitan Police unit investigating human exploitation and organised crime (the former Obscene Publications Squad of the Met), came across Mr Peacock’s services and operated an undercover test purchase in January 2009. Six DVDs were deemed obscene and Mr Peacock was prosecuted.

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James Murdoch before the select committee: The rules on giving evidence

In Comment, Journalism, Law on November 11, 2011 at 10:00 am

By Professor Lorna Woods.

This post also appeared on the City Legal Research blog.

James Murdoch has been called by the select committee to verify the evidence he gave to that committee earlier this year. The problem means that his evidence conflicts with that given by others, so somebody must – at best – be misremembering events. It is timely therefore to recap briefly the rules relating to evidence given to Parliamentary select committees.

Some have noted that none of the people giving evidence have done so on oath; the argument therefore is that such witnesses cannot commit perjury. The implication that seems to be drawn from this is that people are free to lie to Parliament at will. This is not entirely the case. There are two points:

1. It is possible that a witness be required to give evidence on oath. If this were to be done, then the perjury route would be available. Of course, requiring that a witness take the oath rarely occurs. In any event, there is another way.

2. Lying to Parliament, even if you have not taken an oath, constitutes contempt of Parliament. In both cases, the body which would impose a punishment is Parliament and in both instances the punishment would be the same: imprisonment. Parliament has the power to imprison someone for contempt until the end of the Parliamentary term. Despite some claims to the contrary, it seems Parliament does not have the power to impose fines.

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