Big names to speak at Press Gazette media law conference

Justice secretary Jack Straw, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and Sally Murrer lawyer Louis Charalambous are among the speakers at Press Gazette’s Media Law Conference next month.

The keynote speaker of the conference on 11 February is justice secretary Jack Straw – who will be speaking in the wake of announcements last month that the government is to review the libel laws and open up family courts to the press for the first time.

Guardian editor Rusbridger who will be speaking about his title’s hard-fought libel battle with Tesco and arguing in the Great Debate – that Britain’s libel laws are in need of major reform. He will be up against Nigel Tait from Carter Ruck, the law firm which represented Tesco.

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Other speakers are drawn from across the UK’s leading media lawyers to provide briefings on the latest developments in privacy, defamation, Freedom of Information, protection of sources and access to the courts.

Press Gazette editor and conference host Dominic Ponsford said: ‘In the age of minute-by-minute breaking news, it only takes a split second error of judgment to commit a legal error that could cost your title thousands.

‘In the current financial climate, no one can afford to make those sort of mistakes. Our media law conference aims to provide an in-depth topical briefing which should make publications better equipped to avoid costly legals.

“It is aimed equally at journalists, editors and media lawyers – from fearless investigators who don’t want to fall foul of terror legislation, to overworked copy editors who need to know the latest developments in privacy and libel.”

The conference is being held at the De Vere Holborn Bars, the former Prudential Building in High Holborn, London, and runs from 9am to 4.15pm.

The price is £395 for lawyers, £295 for journalists and £147.50 for Press Gazette subscribers.

To reserve a place call 020 7549 8671 or email

The full conference programme is as follows:

8.45-9.15am – Coffee and registration

9.15-9.25am – Welcome from editor of Press Gazette, Dominic Ponsford

9.30-10.30am – Freedom of Information (panel session)

  • Maurice Frankel (Director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information): Is Freedom of Information going forwards, backwards or stuck?
  • Matt Davis – Beyond Freedom of Information: The director new agency DataNews explains how journalists can use data available on the internet (outside the Freedom of Information Act) to find great stories.
  • Heather Rogers QC: Fighting for Freedom of Information in the courts
  • Bob Satchwell: Director of the Society of Editors, Access to court lists – a breakthrough for the press.

10.30-11.00am – How journalist can protect their sources and confidentiality when they themselves are targeted by the police.

  • Louis Charalambous , from Simons Muirhead & Burton, the lawyer who helped local press journalist Sally Murrer see off Thames Valley Police’s bid to send her to prison for talking to police sources.

11.00-11.15am – Coffee and refreshments

11.15-12.15am – Privacy and defamation update (panel session)

  • Christina Michalos, Barrister, 5RB, (author of the Law of Photography and Digital Images): Fair play for journalists online – protecting your words and images, and making the best (legal) use of content from other websites and social media
  • Caroline Kean, head of media litigation at Wiggin: Was Paul Dacre right about Mr Justice Eady’s backdoor privacy law? And what do recent decisions extending privacy rights mean for the media?
  • Julian Pike, Farrer and Co, keeping libel costs down in a recession part one (national press)
  • Tony Jaffa, from Foot Anstey, keeping libel costs down in a recession part two (regional press)

12.15-12.45pm – Access to family courts

  • Guy Vassall-Adams – Doughty Street: Where do journalists’ rights to report the courts stand in the light of the December announcement that family courts are being opened up to the press.

12.45-2pm – lunch

2.00-3pm (speech plus questions)

Keynote speaker – The Justice Secretary – Jack Straw

(Introduced by Bob Satchwell – Director of the Society of Editors)

Speaking in the wake of the historic news last month that the government plans to open family courts to the press.


The Big Debate: Is it time to end Britain’s reputation as libel capital of the world? Should libel laws be reformed to safeguard investigative journalism?

Speaker in favour of reform of the current libel system:

David Hooper from Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (author of Reputations Under Fire)

Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of Guardian News and Media.

Speaking up for the current system:

Mark Thomson from the UK’s most feared claimant libel firm – Carter Ruck.

Jennifer Howlett, the former Mayor of Castlepoint, Essex, who herself has made use of no win, no fee rules for libel cases

If you want to attend this event please fill out the booking form, or alternatively visit the awards page.



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