Law, Justice and Journalism

Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

Upcoming event: Crime and the Media – Social Science Perspectives

In Events, Journalism, Justice, Law on October 17, 2013 at 2:17 pm

City University London’s Professors Chris Greer and Eugene McLaughlin will be speaking at this upcoming event:

Crime and the Media: Social Science Perspectives

Trial by mediafalse appeals by apparent victims of crime, citizen journalism and wrongful convictions are some of the issues explored in this innovative seminar. We will ask:

  • How useful are public appeals for help with police investigations?
  • How does media coverage of sensational crimes influence policy making?
  • Are documentary makers aware or concerned of the implications of their presentation of crimes?
  • What are the processes connecting crime and the media, and what are the social and psychological consequences of these relations?

The speakers and panel chairs are all confirmed:

Professor Shirley Pearce, Chair of the College of Policing

  • Professor Laurie Taylor, Sociologist and broadcaster
  • Professor Jon Silverman, Former BBC Home Affairs Correspondent
  • Professor David Canter AcSS, University of Huddersfield
  • Professors Chris Greer and Eugene McLaughlin, City University London
  • Professor Roger Graef, LSE and film-maker
  • Professor Yvonne Jewkes, University of Leicester

The conference will be of value to academics, media practitioners, policy-makers, those who work on issues surrounding crime, and anybody else curious about the implications of our dominant contact with offending arising through second-hand representations by journalists and fiction writers.

Open justice in the digital era and data protection

In Events, Journalism, Justice, Research on June 5, 2013 at 10:21 am

By Judith Townend

I had the chance to discuss the Centre’s ‘Open Justice in the Digital Era’ project yesterday, at the first joint seminar of the DP Forum and NADPO (The National Association of Data Protection Officers).

The theme was ‘The challenges of complying with evolving standards’, and the other speakers included: Martin Hoskins, data protection consultant; Judith Jones, Group Manager, Government & Society, Information Commissioner’s Officer; Robert Bond, Head of Data Protection and Information Security at Speechly Bircham; and Lynne Wyeth, Head of Information Governance, Leicester City Council.

It provided a fascinating insight into the regulatory and legal challenges ahead (especially in view of the EC’s draft General Data Protection Regulation*), both in terms of the theoretical framework and practical issues on the ground for DP officers (whose number is set to increase, if EC proposals go ahead).

I introduced the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism’s ‘Open Justice in the Digital Era’ project and the privacy-related issues we have stumbled upon, in discussing potential recommendations for more efficient and systematic digitisation of courts information. There are important issues to consider around Data Protection, Rehabilitation of Offenders and the ‘Right to be Forgotten’, a concept included in the draft Regulation.

A quick summary can be found on my Meeja Law blog.

*A vote on on the lead rapporteur’s report regarding amendments to the Proposed Regulation, scheduled for 29 May, has been postponed, as a result of the high number of amendments to consider.

Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism Research Studentships [deadline 29 April 2013]

In Announcements, Journalism, Justice, Law on April 8, 2013 at 9:12 am

The Centre is offering three three-year, full-time doctoral Research Studentships, available to both home and overseas fee-paying students. Applications can be made to undertake doctoral studies in a topic relevant to one of the main themes of the Centre:

For entry in October 2013, the studentships will attract a bursary of £15,000 per annum in addition to payment of the tuition fees. Successful candidates will usually be expected to undertake some teaching support activity in their second and third years, by agreement with the School concerned.

Closing date for applications: 29 April 2013

For further information please contact the Centre Research Manager: Peter Aggar

Informal enquiries can be made to the Centre Directors: Professor Howard Tumber (Journalism), Professor Lorna Woods (Law) and Dr Chris Greer (Sociology).

Upcoming talk, 28 November, University of Southhampton – Scandal Without End: Sir Jimmy Savile, child sexual abuse and the BBC crisis

In Events, Journalism, Justice on November 22, 2012 at 9:49 am

Upcoming event: Scandal Without End: Sir Jimmy Savile, Child Sexual Abuse and the BBC Crisis

Where and when: Wednesday 28th November at 4pm,Institute of Criminal Justice Research, University of Southampton. Building 4, Law School. Room 4005 Highfield Campus. Light Refreshments will be available. 

Speakers: Chris Greer and Eugene McLaughlin.

On 3 October 2012 a heavily trailed ITV documentary branded Sir Jimmy Savile as a manipulative sexual predator. The resulting scandal around ‘Savile-as-child-abuser’ destroyed Savile’s ‘cultural icon’ status and implicated multiple institutions on charges of facilitation, failure and denial. The intensification of the scandal has to date resulted in the establishment of police investigations into hundreds of sexual abuse allegations, arrests, official inquiries, vigilante activities and the resignation of the Director General of the BBC. In this paper we trace the origins and development of the ‘Savile-as-child abuser’ scandal, and apply the ‘scandal amplification spiral’ (Greer and McLaughlin, 2012) to make sense of how, why and with what consequences the affair has escalated into a full blown institutional crisis for the BBC.

  • Flyer [PDF]
  • Chris Greer is co-director of the Centre of Law, Justice and Journalism, City University London
  • Eugene McLaughlin is Professor of Criminology, University of Southampton

New publication: ‘Trial by Media: Phone-hacking, Riots, Looting, Gangs and Police Chiefs’

In Announcements, Journalism, Justice, Law, Publications on June 1, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Chris Greer and Eugene McLaughlin

Contemporary police chiefs must operate within an information-communications environment that differs radically from the more stable and predictable conditions conceptualised in previous research. The most important dimension of this multi-faceted environment is the emergence of the 24-7 news mediasphere. This paper examines the changing nature of news media-police chief relations, and the rising news media ‘politics of outrage’, by analysing the ‘trial by media’ that defined Sir Hugh Orde’s attempt to become Commissioner of the MPS in August/September 2011.

Greer, C. and McLaughlin, E. (2012) ‘Trial by Media: Phone-hacking, Riots, Looting, Gangs and Police Chiefs’, in J. Peay and T. Newburn (eds.) Policing, Politics, Culture and Control: Essays in Honour of Robert Reiner (Festschrift), London: Hart.

This paper was presented to the Crime, Justice and Society Research Group at City Law School on 30 May 2012.

Introducing the Crime, Justice and Society Research Group

In City University London, Events, Justice, Law on May 28, 2012 at 10:10 am

This group, based at City University London, was established to research and examine issues relating to the interactions between the law, its application and representation (for example in the media) and the agencies dealing with it. The research areas are: Criminal Law, Criminal Justice and Socio-Legal studies.

Therefore, the group aims at including academics from both the Law School and the School of Criminology. We hold a series of seminars at City University with speakers who present research papers in areas such as: the changing nature of news media-police chief relations, the criminal justice system in the socio-legal context and historical perspectives on corporate liability.

Our mission is to contribute to the enhancement of the Criminal Law and Criminal Justice research cluster via seminars, conferences and workshops that focus on innovative perspectives on the contextualization of the law and criminal justice system.

For further information please contact the group convener Dr. Riccardo Montana (

More information here.

Upcoming seminars

  • “Phone-hacking, Riots, Looting, Gangs and Police Chiefs: Sir Hugh Orde’s ‘Trial by Media'”, Dr. Chris Greer and Prof. Eugene McLaughlin, Wednesday 30 May, City University London

Past seminars

  • “Moral Panics and Punitiveness: Putting a Criminal Justice System in Context”, Dr. Riccardo Montana, 25 April 2012
  • “Corporations and Individual Businesspersons in Domestic and International Criminal Law”, Dr. Grietje Baars, 28 March 2012

“In the 21st century, open justice should be online justice”

In Events, Journalism, Justice, Law on April 3, 2012 at 7:46 pm

By Judith Townend

“In the 21st century, open justice should be online justice,” David Banisar, Article 19.

The Guardian has succeeded in its legal bid to gain access to court documents in extradition proceedings (listed at the end of this post).

The Guardian has been seeking access to documents used to justify the extradition of two Britons, Jeffrey Tesler and Wojciech Chodan, to the US. After they were sent to Texas, the pair pleaded guilty to taking part in a decade-long conspiracy to channel bribes worth $180m to Nigerian officials and politicians. (Guardian, 3.04.12)

In a judgment handed down today (Guardian News and Media Ltd, R (on the application of) v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court [2012] EWCA Civ 420) the Master of the Rolls, Hooper LJ and Toulson LJ granted appeal of an Administrative court decision which dismissed the Guardian’s claim for judicial review, following a District Judge’s refusal of access to certain documents.

“Although I disagree with the reasoning of the courts below, I recognise that this decision breaks new ground in the application of the principle of open justice, although not, as I believe, in relation to the nature of the principle itself,” Toulson LJ [90].

Brid Jordan, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP, who acted for the Guardian, explains

The Court of Appeal has ruled that where documents have been placed before a judge and referred to in the course of open proceedings, the default position should be that access should be permitted on the open justice principle. Where access is sought for a proper journalistic purpose the case for allowing it will be particularly strong.

The campaigning organisation Article 19 made a submission in the case (embedded below) which the judgment praised for its “helpful and interesting survey of the approach which has been taken by courts in other common law countries“.

The Court of Appeal judgment comes a month on from the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism event, Justice Wide Open. In a comment piece for the Guardian marking today’s judgment, Article 19’s senior counsel David Banisar (left) said that the CLJJ event had

…revealed that there were many legal and practical limits to open justice. Few local newspapers now cover local courts and even the larger national media only attend a few cases; transcripts remain the commercial property of the court reporters and video and audio recording of cases is forbidden for reasons that are hard to understand; non-media such as community micro-sites have little access to anything; the FOIA only has limited application to the courts.

Crucially, Banisar flagged up that in the Guardian’s case,

…the growing practice of judges and the lawyers moving to a more document-focused case system and referring to documents that are only partially read out triggered the need to change the rules.

He argued that taking today’s decision forward, the UK should now adopt a similar approach to the US courts – one of “proactive disclosure”.

This blog post opened with the final sentence of Banisar’s piece: In the 21st century, open justice should be online justice.” That is the central tenet of the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism’s ‘Open Justice in the Digital Age’ project, which we launched with the Justice Wide Open event on 29 February 2012. For more information please visit the project page here. A publication with contributions from the speakers at the event is forthcoming.

Read the rest of this entry »

Geoffrey Robertson QC: Press ‘must do better to protect open justice’

In Events, Journalism, Justice, Law on March 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm

By PA Media Lawyer

The press needs to lift its game if the principle of open justice is to be maintained, a senior QC has warned.

Part of the rationale for open justice was that it meant that judges were themselves under trial while conducting cases, because of media and public scrutiny, and that the public was educated by reports of what was happening in the courts, said media law and human rights specialist Geoffrey Robertson.

“There has been very little informed criticism of the judicial performance of our judges,” he told a conference entitled Justice Wide Open, at City University London, on February 29.

“The media, it seems to me, are third rate, compared to the American media, where appointments to the Supreme Court are covered critically by a lot of experts and a lot of legal journalists,” he said.

“Here the level of coverage of the courts – and certainly critical coverage – is very poor. The number of journalists in courts has been cut.”

But little encouragement was given to critical journalism, Mr Robertson said.

Read the full article at PA Media Lawyer here (subscription required). Papers from the conference will be published later this spring, in a Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism publication. See the project page for more details.

Digital age poses challenge for jury trials

In Events, Journalism, Justice, Law on March 19, 2012 at 10:30 am

By PA Media Lawyer

The jury system might need to be changed to allow jurors to play a more active part in trials as a result of the advances in technology which brought the internet, micro-blogging and social websites such as Twitter and Facebook, a conference was told.

At present technological advances posed two dangers to trials in criminal cases, said Professor Ian Cram, Professor of Comparative Constitutional Law at the University of Leeds (left).

“We can characterise the dangers that arise in two ways – jurors who do their own research, producing information flowing into the jury room. Facebook and Twitter facilitate this sort of flow of information,” he said.

“Information also flows out of the jury room – jurors may send Tweets or updates on their jury room experiences in real time, including on how their deliberations are going,” he told the Justice Wide Open – Open Justice in the Digital Age conference at City University London, on February 29.

Read the full article at PA Media Lawyer here (subscription required). Professor Cram’s paper will be published later this spring, in a Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism publication. See the project page for more details.

Justice Wide Open: courts and legal information in the digital age

In City University London, Events, Journalism, Justice, Law on March 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm

On Wednesday 29 February 2012, academics, lawyers and journalists gathered to discuss open justice in the digital age at City University London.

The programme included context and history, issues for the media and an academic perspective. Speakers included: Geoffrey Robertson QC; Hugh Tomlinson QC; Heather Brooke, journalist and author; Mike Dodd, editor of PA Media Lawyer; and Professor Ian Cram, Professor of Comparative Constitutional Law, University of Leeds.

Later in the spring the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism will be releasing a set of papers from the event and also work on practical recommendations to take forward. Please contact if you would like to be involved or have suggestions.

In the meantime, here are some links to reports elsewhere, tweets, photos and audio.

Audio recordings & slides

  • Session one, with Hugh Tomlinson QC, David Goldberg, information rights academic and activist; and Emily Allbon, City Law School librarian [slides] (chair: Professor Howard Tumber).
  • Session 2, with Heather Brooke, journalist and author; Mike Dodd, editor of PA Media Lawyer; Adam Wagner, barrister; William Perrin, founder of Talk About Local [slides] (chair: Judith Townend).
  • Session 3. An academic perspective, with Professor Ian Cram, Professor of Comparative Constitutional Law, University of Leeds [slides] and Dr Lawrence McNamara, Reader in Law and ESRC/AHRC Research Fellow, University of Reading (chair: Professor Ian Loveland).