Gunnar Pettersson on "McKennitt v. Ash"


2006 postings (in reverse order)




Söndag 24 december 2006 - : - Merry Winterval to you too


McKennitt v Ash I: One of the fruits of thousands of years of human progress and

civilisation is the saying 'It ain't over till it's over'. As some of us half-predicted,

Niema's representative David Price has decided to proceed with an application

for the case to be heard by the House of Lords. As I understand it, there will first

be a written submission, followed by an oral one, and the whole process looks

likely to take at least a year. I will report back when I know more detail.


McKennitt v Ash II: Meanwhile, an interesting little brouha erupted in the Toronto

Globe & Mail last week. First of all, Michael Posner wrote a straight report on the

outcome of the appeal court hearing, in which he said (among other things) that

Loreena did not question the veracity of the various injuncted sections of Niema's

book, but objected only to the breaches of her privacy that they represented. Not

so, said Loreena in a response. On the contrary, for Loreena the book read more

or less like a work of fiction. (Incidentally, I'm paraphrasing here because the

articles are all pay-per-read and I felt very mean all week... However, you can

access them all by typing "mckennitt" into the Globe & Mail's search box). Niema

then came back with the (as yet unpublished, as far as I can see) not unreasonable

response "Why then did you not sue for libel, instead of breach of privacy?" This

is Niema's letter in full:


The trial Loreena McKennitt refers to (in answer to Michael Posner's article on

December 15) was conducted on a breach of privacy basis, not on a libel one. 

Had I been accused of libel I would have had access to crucial documents which,

I believe, would have changed the outcome of the trial.  I did not have access

to them, however, because they were "private".  Also, Ms. McKennitt was able

to afford a top team of barristers and solicitors, whereas I ran out of money

several days before the trial and had to defend myself without time for preparation

or legal knowledge.  Talk about a David and Goliath event.  Ironically, some of the

private matters McKennitt objected to were already in the public domain, put there

by herself, others were as inconsequential as saying someone had taken an aspirin

for a headache or vitamin C for a cold. Initially Ms. McKennitt wanted the entire

book banned, however, freedom of expression has not been entirely eroded. 


Niema Ash


Also, should you feel like spending more on pay-per-read in the Globe & Mail, do

spend it on a right-on piece by Doug Saunders headlined "Privacy isn't a 'right'. It's

an indulgence".



Måndag 18 december 2006 - : - McK v. A - some final thoughts, for now


Lawyer Dan Tench has a rather useful summary of the judgement in today's Media

Guardian. Also, it's quite intriguing to read the judgement (accessible via Loreena's

Current Updates page, linked in the Friday 15 posting) and find that, according to

the Lords Justices, Niema's book is not about Niema's experiences "at all" but is solely

about Loreena, so much so that they call the story Loreena's "property". You may

reasonably think that Loreena, by virtue of that ownership, has invaded her own

privacy, but then you would be very silly. No, what's intriguing about it is that it

opens up a rather surreal vista, where the subject of a written account becomes

the legal owner of the narrative in which they apppear, in a pretty ghost-like - and,

it has to be said, a thoroughly post-modern - fashion. It sounds very much like a

novel the great Flann O'Brien never got around to writing. More specifically, it is

a first step towards a complete redefinition of the memoir. You may think you are

writing about your experiences in the company of Mr X or Mrs Y, and how you were

able to trace over a number of years the changes in their personalities after they'd

won the lottery, or been awarded the Nobel Prize, or become million-selling folk

singers, and that you then described these changes in a kind of prose which only

you were able to produce, and from a perspective which was yours and yours alone

- so much so that if you hadn't been there, there wouldn't have been a book at all!

But no. You are mistaken. Your name on the cover? It means nothing. The title is all.



Söndag 17 december 2006 - : - McKennitt v. Ash, part 439.


With all the brouha following Thursday's judgement in the Court of Appeal, it's worth

bearing in mind that this is in all probability not the last word. Peter Preston in today's

Observer points out that the lower courts have a habit of coming down on the side of

privacy, whereas the House of Lords - the "supreme court" for England and Wales -

tends to redress the balance towards freedom of speech. And with less important cases

going to the Lords in the past, it seems most unlikely that McKennitt v. Ash won't end

up there too. That's not to say that a House of Lords judgement is foregone conclusion,

only that the questions at the heart of the case will almost certainly be subject to legal

scrutiny again. (Also, today's Sunday Times has a piece on the case, with quotes from

both Niema and Loreena).


Loreena says in the conclusion to her statement (there's a link in yesterday's posting):

"This is a victory as well for writers who view their work with integrity, and for those

who understand that that the duty of the press to question government and corporations

should not be interfered with nor taken lightly. We also realize that the essence of a free

society is the personal autonomy of the individual to think, feel and interact socially

without unwarranted intrusion."


If you ever wanted to know what the word "disingenuous" means, read no further.

Whatever it is writers do when they "view their work with integrity" - and I cannot

imagine what that would be - this presents the hair-raising prospect of a new freedom

to "interfere with" or "take lightly" the work of any writer who job is not specifically to

"question governments and corporations" - and that's most of them, of course. It is

as though it's perfectly OK for journalists to go after organisations of whatever kind,

especially large ones, but that individuals are somehow off-limits. Not only that. The

last sentence encapsulates for me the having-your-cake-and-eating-it nature of the

judgement, because it has now become largely the right of the subject individual - be

they Robert Maxwell as portrayed by Tom Bower, or Loreena McKennitt as portrayed

by Niema Ash - to decide what is and what is not "unwarranted" as far as intrusion is

concerned. As the Sunday Times piece indicates, this calls forth the image of Robert

Maxwell being able to object in court to Bower's biography on the grounds that he is

not "comfortable" with it. If that is "the essence of a free society", things have come,

as they say, to a pretty pass.



Fredag 15 december 2006 - : - McKennitt v. Ash, cont'd


Press reports are beginning to come in about the judgement, but I'm damned if I'm

going to try and link them all. I'm just going to highlight the ones that have something

more substantial to say (IMHO), and today's choice is Clare Dyer in the Guardian.

There will be plenty more at the weekend, and Monday's media sections in the Guardian

and Independent are sure to comment on it as well. Also, of course, Loreena has put

out a statement on her Current Updates page, where you can also access the judgement

itself in pdf format. Make sure you do. I will return to Loreena's statement in the near

future, particularly the last bit.



Torsdag 14 december 2006 - : - McKennitt v. Ash


(12:20 GMT) BREAKING NEWS: The judgement was handed down a couple of hours

ago - and Niema lost the appeal on all seven counts! That is, none of the seven

passages from the book injuncted by Mr Justice Eady last year were deemed by the

Court of Appeal to fall within Niema's right to freedom of speech. So they remain

injuncted, protected by Loreena's right to privacy under Article 8 of the ECHR.


I have yet to get hold of a copy of the 40+ page judgement, but even so: this is truly

awful news. We had hoped that the injunction would be lifted on at least one of the

counts, but no, not even that. It bears repeating that if this judgement stands it will

profoundly change English law relating to writing and publishing, ceding much more -

some would say excessive - legal weight to a person's (celebrity or not) right to

privacy, at the direct expense of the right to free expression. It will effectively mean,

if not the end, then radically curtailed forms of kiss-and-tell stories and unauthorised

biographies, as well as related genres.


The judgement is extraordinary in many ways. The appeal court upholds Eady's view

that Niema's book is not about her own experiences, but simply about Loreena, implying

a sort of parasitic relationship on Niema's part. Anyone who has read the book, with

at least one eye open, knows that this is emphatically not so. They also upheld Eady's

pretty radical re-interpretation of the concept of the "public domain", saying in effect

that simply because something is in the public domain already does not mean it can

be publicly repeated with impunity! Apparently, it now depends on the reason why it

was placed in the public domain in the first place. Go figure.


What happens now is as yet unclear. There is a theoretical possibility that Niema could

take the case to the House of Lords, but I have no idea what, if anything, will be decided

on that score. As well as Niema and Loreena, there was a sizeable contingent of Her

Majesty's Press present in court this morning, and there is bound to be plenty of comment

in the media over the next few days. I'll try and keep up with it as best I can. But, for now,

let's pour ourselves a stiff drink. Oi vey.


Måndag 11 december 2006 - : - Eller "bebopvänster" kanske?


McKennitt v Ash: There's been plenty more comment on Eady's "adultery judgement"

in the press over the weekend and today. One of the more lucid contributions is by

lawyer Sarah Webb in today's MediaGuardian. I still don't know when a judgement

in McKennitt v Ash itself can be expected, but I will of course post something as soon

as I know.



Söndag 10 december 2006 - : - Es un escándalo! (+)


But first McKennitt v. Ash: Peter Preston, ex-editor of The Guardian, is a bit sarky

about Mr Justice Eady in today's Observer Media. This relates to the "adultery

judgement" I mentioned last Thursday.



Torsdag 7 december 2006 - : - McKennitt v Ash


Another judgement by Mr Justice Eady in a privacy case has caused a bit of a stir

in the last few days, not least of course because it relates to McKennitt v Ash.

Some background in the Telegraph here. Some comments from the Times here.

And Melanie 'Mad Mel' Phillips in the Mail has her own take on it all... The Sun's

headline on the story (not online) ran "Love Rat Star Gags a Hubby". Unbeatable,

I'd say.



Måndag 4 december 2006 - : - To be added to as we go along


McKennitt v. Ash: Media lawyer Catrin Evans writes in today's Guardian about the

appeal (the decision is yet to come, date unknown).



Måndag 27 november 2006 - : - Skål!


McKennitt v Ash: One of the first proper reviews I've seen of Loreena's new album

'An Ancient Muse' is by Jon Pareles in the New York Times yesterday (scroll down).

The album, he says, "is still New Age music: slow, pretty and raptly self-satisfied

as it tries to bridge cultures in well-meaning consonance".



Söndag 26 november 2006 - : - Jätteofta på en söndag (+)


McKennitt v Ash: Washington Post had a piece on both the Douglas/Hello case and

McKennitt v Ash, this is from Thursday last week.



Torsdag 23 november 2006 - : - McKennitt v Ash, cont'd


This morning's one hour session in court gave Niema's barrister David Price a chance

to counter the Respondent's arguments from yesterday. As I've just learned, David

Price devoted a good part of the session to an argument that has been crucial during

these two days, and that concerns the so-called "A v. B" case from a few years ago.

This involved a Blackburn Rovers footballer, Gary Flitcroft, who had canoodled with

a couple of lapdancers, who subsequently sold the story to the press. In that case,

the court decided that a "celebrity" (and it was rather stretching it to include Flitcroft

in that category...) has to accept that his/her right to privacy is to some degree diminished

by their celebrity status. Desmond Browne QC argued yesterday that times have

changed, and that other, subsequent rulings - particularly the Caroline one - serve to

give the right to privacy much more legal weight. For all sorts of technical and semantic

reasons  - to do with the terms "celebrity", "role model" etc - David Price, on his part,

argued that times have not yet changed sufficiently for that, and that "A v. B" must, for

the time being, remain binding on English courts.


All very complicado, you'll agree. And I know how pompous this can sound, but it is

very striking how this appeal hearing appears almost as a microcosm of the much

larger conflict playing out between efforts to close down the world, and efforts to keep

it at least as open as it has been, if not more. God knows there are more important

freedom of speech issues at stake right now than a book about being (and not being)

friends with Loreena McKennitt. And as for the final outcome of the hearing, it's of

course impossible to predict. But, either way, it will have enormous impact on the

media and publishing industry, far beyond the wistful - nay, haunting! - sonorities

emanating from ancient muses.



Onsdag 22 november 2006 - : - McKennitt v Ash: the appeal


After some toing and froing, the main part of the appeal hearing took place yesterday

Tuesday and today Wednesday; there will be a further hour tomorrow morning

(Thursday), but your correspondent won't be able to attend. The social scene? Well,

the protagonists were of course present: Loreena McKennitt, accompanied by a small

entourage, and Niema Ash, accompanied by small friends (apart from John, who's quite

tall). Plus, of course, various hacks, law reporters, and Benji the Binman.


The first day was devoted to the claimant's case. Very briefly, Niema's representative

David Price put the detailed legal case to the three Lord Justices presiding, i.e. why

in their view Mr Justice Eady got it wrong in his judgement from last year. Price said

that Eady had delivered a "triple whammy" to freedom of speech. The first was in

lowering the bar for breaches of Article 8 privacy issues, so that only the most anodyne

information about someone's private life could be published. The second, related whammy

was in upping the bar for Article 10 freedom of speech issues, so that it would only be

in the public interest to publish if the individual in question had been guilty of a "very

high degree of misbehaviour". This creates a Catch 22 situation where an article, or a

book, could only get over the Article 8 hurdle if, by definition, the information was unlikely

to show a very high degree of misbehaviour. The third whammy, according to David Price,

was that Eady's judgement blurred the distinction between defamation and privacy, which

is particularly serious for the book publishing industry, as it "circumvents the rule against

prior restraint in defamation claims", i.e. not having to pulp books before the defamation

claim has been tried in court.


Loreena's representative, Desmond Browne QC, laid out the case for the Respondent

on the second day, Wednesday. His main point seemed, in my layman's ears, to be that

whereas in the past more weight has been placed on the right to freedom of speech in

cases like this, the balance has begun to shift towards more emphasis on the right to

privacy, and that this is something reflected in recent European jurisprudence, most

emblematically in the Caroline of Monaco ruling (a.k.a. "Von Hannover"). In other words,

Mr Justice Eady was right in placing such emphasis on Loreena's Article 8 rights, as

opposed to Niema's Article 10 rights. Among other things, Browne argued  that a celebrity

is as entitled to privacy (however you define "privacy") as anyone else, and that you can

no longer argue that celebs are in a way "asking for it" when they actively crave the publicity

most of them so patently crave. 


It's a depressing prospect. IMHO, if Browne is right, a ruling along those lines would be the

recipe for the cake that celebrities and politicians and the "high muckety-mucks" (in Milton

Acorn's phrase) can have and eat at the same time. Lucky them. The cult of secrecy, the

curse of English polity, and society as a whole, will be even further entrenched in law. It

would be a black day for books and newspapers, and for those who produce them.


I've been told the judgement can be expected in three to four weeks. As soon as I know

what it is, you will know too.



Tisdag 21 november 2006 - : - Out of office


The next couple of days will find me in the Court of Appeal, following the McKennitt

v. Ash hearing. I will report back on proceedings as soon as I can. Please water the

plants while I'm away. Thanks.



Söndag 19 november 2006 - : - Curiouser and curiouser...


McKennit v. Ash: Do you remember my posting on 9 november about Morley Walker's

piece in the Winnipeg Free Press and how a rather irate letter in response from a Colonel

Rankin found its way onto Loreena's website's News & Views section, in a posting dated

19 October? Well, the whole posting's now gone. Putz weg. Vamoosed. No longer present

and correct. N'existe pas. Adios, amigo. Odd, eh? [PS: On a more technical note. If you

google "colonel william j rankin" you get two results: one is my own posting from the 9th,

the other the pdf file as posted on Loreena's site, but the link of course no longer works.

However, if you click on the same file but "View as HTML" you can still read the letter.

Should you wish to do so.]



Lördag 18 november 2006 - : - As I was saying...


McKennitt v. Ash: Clare Dyer, the Guardian's legal correspondent, has a piece in

today's paper on the upcoming appeal, and she connects it with two other privacy-

related cases to be heard in the next couple of weeks. Incidentally, the hearing will

now start on Tuesday, not Monday as previously announced (probably due to a traffic

jam in that particular court). Anyway, the tension mounts...



Torsdag 9 november 2006 - : - McKennitt v. Ash, again


I also noticed something rather strange on Loreena's website yesterday. On 14

September, the journalist Morley Walker of the Winnipeg Free Press published a

piece on the case which was mildly sympathetic to Niema. However, a week or

so later, a certain Colonel William J Rankin wrote a letter to the editor protesting

against Walker's piece and strongly taking Loreena's side in the matter. For

whatever reason, WFP chose not to publish it. However, the Colonel's letter

found its way to the News & Views section on Loreena's website, where it was

published as a pdf file on 19 October (scroll down to 'UK Privacy Case' posting of

19/10/06, where Walker's original piece can also be accessed, although it requires

subscription). The letter is worth having a look at, particularly the second paragraph,

which seems - in my layman's eyes - to contain some statements about Niema that

are bordering on defamatory: "...falsely constructing a case...", "...causing witnesses

to perjure themselves...", "...tantamount to extortion...". I say, steady on, Colonel...!

I may be wrong, but I don't recall any of that contained in Eady's judgement. And

this is posted on a website where Loreena has frequently said that she cannot

comment on the case because of her respect for the legal process...! Very curious.


Onsdag 8 november 2006 - : - Tapas variadas


McKennitt v. Ash: How time flies. The appeal hearing is due to take place quite

soon now, over a period of three days starting Monday 20 November and, as I

understand it, the sessions will be open to the public. Your correspondent will of

course be there, and I will report back as and when possible, hopefully at the

end of each day. Meanwhile, Loreena's new album, 'An Ancient Muse', is due to

be released any time now: some sample tracks can be downloaded on her website




Tisdag 5 september 2006 - : - A site for sore eyes


McKennitt v. Ash: Still no news on the outcome, if any, of yesterday's deliberations

in court. However, as part of Pressylta's legendary service ethos, I have now provided

a complete McKennitt v. Ash archive, i.e. all my postings on the subject to date. The

link is in the left column.



Måndag 4 september 2006 - : - McKennitt v. Ash, etc


In MediaGuardian today, lawyer Caroline Kean writes (you have to subscribe,

but it's free) about the media industry's application to intervene in the case

("probably one of the most significant court of appeal cases for the British press

ever," according to the standfirst). The application is supposed to be heard today,

but I'm unsure whether there will simply be a written submission for the judges

to consider, or an oral submission. As I understand it, and this probably won't

come as a surprise to you, Loreena's lawyers oppose the application. And it's

by no means certain that it will be granted, because it would be a unique and

precedent-setting decision. Previously, only non-profit organisations such as

racial equality bodies have been allowed to intervene in cases whose outcome

would affect the law in their respective areas, but commercial organisations,

never. Whatever the outcome, I'll post it here as soon as I know.



Söndag 27 augusti 2006-09-04


The Sunday Times runs a piece (the print version is longer) by Maurice

Chittenden today, on the case in general and the media industry's

"application to intervene" in particular. Which of course you could read

here first, bloody weeks ago... Typical.



Torsdag 10 augusti 2006 - : - Knark på tapeten


But first, a postscript to yesterday's McKennitt v. Ash posting: as I'm

sure most of you are aware, in the middle of all this, Loreena is putting out

a new album in the autumn, called 'An Ancient Muse'. Among other things,

it brings Scandinavian influences (our old friend nyckelharpan) into that

heady Celtic brew. Much to look forward to there, I think.



Onsdag 9 augusti 2006 - : - McKennitt v. Ash - new developments


In a highly unusual - if not unique - development, the Premier League of

the British media industry have come together to seek permission from the

Court of Appeal to "intervene" in the McKennitt v. Ash appeal hearing, due

to take place later this year.  If given leave by the court, the group, comprising

Times Newspapers Ltd, Telegraph Group Ltd, Associated Newspapers Ltd, The

Press Association, British Sky Broadcasting Ltd, and the BBC, will be represented

by Anthony White QC of Matrix Chambers. Their intention is to try to ensure

that the court is fully aware of the hugely important legal issues at stake, as

far as both privacy and freedom of expression are concerned. Obviously,

they would not get involved in the particular facts of the case, only the points

of law raised by those facts.


This "application to intervene", by such major players, is as good an indication

as any that the law in this area is seen to be in too much flux, with no one

knowing exactly where they stand, since the European Convention on Human

Rights became part of English law. The media organsiations are in a way

saying that the time has come for the courts to establish, in as definitive a

way as possible, what goes and what does not, as far as invasion of privacy

is concerned, and where the balance is to be struck between the right to

privacy (ECHR Article 8) and freedom of expression (ECHR Article 10). I

 think their intervention can also be interpreted as saying that Mr Justice Eady's

judgement from December 2005 leaned far too heavily towards the former.

However, it will certainly be an interesting - and important - couple of days

in court.



Fredag 2 juni 2006 - : - TFI Friday, eh...


+ McKennitt v. Ash: Due to perennial technical probs I haven't been able to log
on to it myself, but a blog maintained by the charmingly monikered Ollie Pickup
apparently has a running commentary on the case, précis of articles, et cetera.



Onsdag 31 maj 2006 - : - Bye-bye maj


+ McKennitt v. Ash: The Toronto Globe & Mail has noted the permission-to-appeal
developments here. There's also supposed to be something in the Toronto Star,
but I haven't been able to locate that yet.



Torsdag 25 maj 2006 - : - Privacy v. Freedom of Speech: Seconds Out, Round 2!
                                          + Press Release from David Price Solicitors & Advocates

Earlier this afternoon the Appeal Court in London granted Niema Ash permission
to appeal Mr Justice Eady's verdict in the case of McKennitt v. Ash from December
2005. The appeal hearing will probably take place in the autumn and will last for
an estimated two days.


The two Lord Justices gave permission to appeal on a total of five out of seven
"grounds for appeal" submitted by Niema's lawyers (costs had already been
granted permission). The only ground they did not agree to was the claim that
Niema had not received a fair trial. In other words, all the controversial issues
raised by Eady's verdict will now be settled on appeal, and the hearing is bound
to attract a lot of attention from both the media and the legal community. Fore-

most is of course the issue of whether Eady struck a fair balance between Loreena

McKennitt's Article 8 rights to privacy and Niema's Article 10 rights to freedom of

speech. It's also worth noting that one of the judges at today's hearing, Lord Justice

Richards, went out of his way to say that he had approached this case with a mind

to refuse permission to appeal, but that David Price's skilful advocacy on Niema's

behalf had persuaded him that there are substantive issues at stake in an area of

the law that is very new and still evolving. More on this will probably follow in the

next few days.






For immediate release
25 May 2006

McKennitt privacy decision to go to appeal


The author Niema Ash has obtained permission to appeal a recent ruling of the
High Court that she breached the privacy of Canadian folk singer Loreena McKennitt
by publishing her most recent book, 'Travels with Loreena McKennitt'. In the High
Court action Mr Justice Eady had awarded Miss McKennitt £5,000 damages, an
injunction preventing the book from continuing to be published, and her legal costs.

At today's hearing for permission to appeal Lord Justices Ward and Richards accepted
that the case raises a number of important and unsettled legal issues which warrant
consideration by a full Court of Appeal. The issues include the balance between Miss
McKennitt's rights in privacy and Ms Ash's own right to freedom of expression under
the Human Rights Act 1998, whether there can be a cause of action in "false privacy"
and to what extent further information can be published about subjects already in the
public domain.


The Court of Appeal has granted permission for Ms Ash to appeal against the High
Court's original decision on these and other important grounds. The exact date of the
appeal hearing is yet to be decided but is likely to take place later this year.




Niema Ash is an award-winning travel writer and W.B. Yeats scholar. Ms Ash's book
entitled 'Travels with Loreena McKennitt: My Life as a Friend' was published by Purple
Inc Press in 2005.


For Further Details Please Contact

Korieh Duodu

David Price Solicitors & Advocates



Onsdag 24 maj 2006 - : - McKennitt v. Ash - update


On the off-chance that anyone had actually planned to attend the hearing at
the Royal Courts of Justice tomorrow, it now turns out it will be held in private.
As I understand it, Loreena's representatives are unlikely to attend, as it is
simply for the two Lord Justices to decide, on purely technical and legal grounds,
whether Niema should be given leave to appeal. If they decide yes, then the
appeal hearing itself will take place at a later date, probably in the summer.
If no, then there is nowhere further to go for Niema in the English legal system.
There is of course the theoretical possibility of taking it to the European Court
of Human Rights. But, as you know, bridges are to be crossed only when you've
reached them. Otherwise you'd look pretty silly. Trying to cross a bridge that
isn't there, I mean.



Måndag 22 maj 2006 - : - McKennitt v. Ash (now with added correction...)


Peter Wilby writes on press regulation in the magazine he used to edit, New
Statesman, and his views (and Stephen Sedley's) are, strange to say, becoming
more commonplace among journalists and media commentators here. I have
to say I'm not totally averse to the idea myself. It might be interesting to speculate
how McKennitt v. Ash would have fared under such a system: I have a feeling
a more balanced verdict might have been arrived at than that delivered by Mr.
Justice Eady. Howsoever, on Wednesday Thursday we will know whether Niema
will be given leave to appeal Eady's verdict and, if so, on what counts: only the
costs awarded against her, or, more significantly, some of the privacy issues too?
Report to follow.


(Please note that the NS only allows one free article per day)



Onsdag 10 maj 2006 - : - McKennitt v. Ash


It's official: Niema's appeal against the verdict will now be heard on Thursday
25 May 2006 at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand in London.


[Correction, later: the hearing is actually to decide whether Niema will be given
leave to appeal and, if so, the appeal proper will come later. Nevertheless, at
the hearing on the 25th both sides will be presenting their cases in a session
due to last about an hour.]


[Complicated business, the law. A lot of hard work involved. I do hope our

learned friends are being remunerated accordingly...]

[This is probably the most fucked-up posting of mine so far. Never mind, it's

gonna get a lot worse.]



Måndag 3 april 2006 - : - Yes, it's the McKennitt v. Ash show again... (+)


Judy Stoffman of the Toronto Star has written a piece about the case, and it's
quite good, in a breathless sort of way. She gets some matters of fact weirdly
wrong, but it's worth reading, definitely.



Måndag 27 mars 2006 - : - McKennitt v. Ash


Korieh Duodu, the lawyer who is handling Niema's appeal against the verdict,
has a piece in today's Media Guardian (scroll down to "Never mind the libel
suit..."; free to read but you have to register) which doesn't mention the case
but deals with recent trends in media law, and in particular the move towards
more privacy cases rather than defamation/libel. Incidentally, the appeal hearing
will be going ahead, but as I understand it it will be some time yet, probably not
before June. So, for Pressylta's Canadian friends, there probably won't be much
more on the case here until then. But why not pop in now and then, to improve
your Swedish, if nothing else...? Here's a useful phrase: "Heja gais", pronounced
"heya gice". It means "The truth will set you free".



Lördag 4 March 2006 - : - Truth and consequences


The McKennitt v. Ash verdict is beginning to have some serious consequences in
English law. Already several privacy cases have been launched on the back of it.
The latest concerns the Arsenal footballer Ashley Cole: this is a link to a story in
the Times yesterday. Ironically, Cole's legal representative seems to be the very
David Price who is simultaneously helping Niema in her attempt to appeal the
verdict! What a tangled web we weave, eh...?


[Later:] We certainly do, bubba... It isn't Cole who's represented by David Price,
but his alleged partner-in-orgy. Sorry about that. It was a rush job this morning.
Much like Cole's defending, really.



Fredag 17 februari 2006 - : - Loreena + Borgnäs = inte det minsta sant


Two more pieces on the Loreena business. I couldn't for the life of me find a
link to it, but the Tuesday Ottawa Citizen had an article more about the brouha
side of it all, with Loreena heaping praise on the "brave" Justice Eady. If you
want to try and find the piece yourself, the details are as follows:


McKennitt: My private life is mine: Singer praises 'brave' British judge who
quashed intrusive biography
The Ottawa Citizen
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Page: A3
Section: News
Byline: Chris Lackner


However, there definitely is a link to the Daily Telegraph legal editor Joshua
Rozenberg's longish, excellent piece yesterday, 'Could this be the end of the
unauthorised biography?'. Read it and ponder.



Tisdag 14 februari 2006 - : - More on McKennitt v. Ash (+)


Sorry, I'm sort of one day behind with everything at the moment... Yesterday's
Guardian published a piece on the trial, written by media lawyer Rupert Elliott
(unfortunately, it's in their subscription area "Media>Media law"). Anyway, it's
a pretty straightforward account of the "chilling pre-publication lessons for
publishers," in Elliott's words. However, there's one weird thing, and I can't see
how it could be a simple typo, where Elliott opens the third para with the words:
"The singer - whom I represented - objected to the publication, etc etc...". He
most emphatically did not. Loreena was represented by Desmond Browne QC.
Rupert Elliott represented Niema - i.e. until a few days before trial, when he
unceremoniously scarpered - leaving Niema to defend herself in this infernally
complex case - and did so because her funds had run out. But it was probably
reasons of space that made Elliott unable to mention that in his piece. Ho hum.


Update Wednesday 15: An email exchange with The Guardian today shows that
the error was nothing to do with Mr Elliott, but was a simple subbing mistake.
Probably the night shift. Also, the Daily Telegraph had a piece by Chris Hastings
Sunday, on the serious media/legal repercussions of the verdict.



Fredag 10 februari 2006 - : - Blimey...


Posting a press release from David Price solicitors is certainly one way of becoming
popular: Quinlan Road, Carter-Ruck, the Geological Survey of Finland, the hits just
kept coming yesterday... I feel honoured, and slightly ill.


Just kidding.



Torsdag 9 feb 2006-09-04




For immediate release


9 February, 2006


Niema Ash to appeal against High Court privacy decision


The award winning author Niema Ash has today announced that she intends to

appeal against a recent ruling that she breached the privacy of Canadian singer

Loreena McKennitt by publishing her most recent book, Travels with Loreena

McKennitt. The decision will be appealed on the grounds (amongst others) that in

ruling that sections of the book were in breach of privacy the court did not strike

a proper balance between Miss McKennitt's right to privacy and the author's own

rights to freedom of expression under Article 10 of  the Human Rights Act 1998.

The court is currently considering Ms Ash's appeal application.



· Niema Ash is an award-winning travel writer and W.B. Yeats scholar.

· The book entitled Travels with Loreena McKennitt: My Life as a Friendwas published by
Purple Inc Press.

For Further Details Please Contact

Tim Senior (



Torsdag 19 januari 2006 - : - The saga continues... (+)

I'm happy to report that Niema will now seek permission to appeal Mr Justice Eady's
judgement in the Loreena McKennitt case (permission to appeal needs to be sought
because Eady, having given his judgement, explicitly did not grant it; he rarely does,
apparently). And I'm even happier to report that this time Niema will be represented
by media lawyers David Price on a no-win-no-fee basis. As I understand it, permission
will be granted or denied in about two weeks' time. If granted, the appeal hearing will
then take place three or four months hence. This is excellent news, I think you'll agree,
and reports will follow in due course.



Onsdag 11 januari 2006 - : - Anatomy of a statement

Loreena has issued a statement, dated 8 January, on the Quinlan Road website which
seems a direct response to Kate Taylor's column in the Globe & Mail from the day before,
i.e. 7 January. The statement is worth looking at in some detail, particularly the second
paragraph, which follows below, along with my comments (the syntactic and stylistic
problems are entirely sic).

Due to the privacy of the matters inherent in the case and

the sensitivity of the ongoing period of time during which

this matter is being dealt with before the courts;...


...Loreena has chosen, out of respect for the process, to

refrain from openly conversing with the media on this subject.

There is no ongoing process for which respect can be had. The trial is over; the judgement
has been handed down; and everyone is free to comment on it, because the judgement is
a public document. In the event that, for example, Niema should appeal the judgement, then
sure, we would be into another process, and one can respect or disrespect it as one wishes.
But until such a time, no.

She feels that a fully balanced commentary has not yet come

to light, but the issues of human rights and freedoms and the

nature of the principles involved in this case are so important

that those who pre-empt or selectively opine without full

information are distorting true justice.

"A fully balanced commentary" is of course simply one that Loreena agrees with. Equally,
because there is no process, and no "end result" yet to come, there is consequently nothing

to "pre-empt". Again, "selectively opining" is perhaps not an advisable thing to do, but there

is no reason why a commentator should be "without full information" - again, the judgement

is a public document, and has been so since it was handed down on 21 December.

The statement seems to me to be simply an attempt at stalling until Quinlan Road can come

up with an acceptable take on this judgement, in order to explain, in Kate Taylor's apt phrase,

why flies are best killed with sledgehammers. In some limited and technical sense Loreena

may have "won" the case, but in the longer and wider term? I'm not so sure, and I'm not sure

Quinlan Road is either.



Tisdag 10 januari 2006 - : - A chance to see for yourself what it was that
                                             made Globe & Mail columnist Kate Taylor's chin
                                             drop to the floor...

The full text of Mr Justice Eady's judgement in McKennitt v. Ash is now available on the
net, through the law firm 5 Raymond Buildings (scroll down to pdf file). "5RB", as it happens,
counts among its barristers Mr Desmond Browne QC, who led the case for the claimant, i.e.
Loreena. There are also some interesting pointers as to the legal consequences of the
judgement, from the point of view of the claimant's side.

Can I also add that this blogoid has now been officially endorsed by the man himself,
Cedric Smith: "I got on it [Pressylta Redux] and enjoyed the commentary particularly in
Swedish where it carries more the tang of pickled herring."

Again, I rest my case.



Söndag 8 jan 2006-09-04


The mainstream press now seems to be beginning to catch up with the outcome of the
trial. Nikki Tait wrote an interesting piece in the Financial Times on New Year's Eve
(subscription only, unfortunately: search on headline "Celebrity privacy ruling could
lead to new curbs on media") in which a prominent media lawyer, David Engel, notes
Judge Eady's view that "even when 'private' matters had already had a limited public
airing, this would not necessarily mean that all privacy rights had disappeared and that
it was 'open season' for other publications." Which begs the rather large question: what
does "limited" mean in the above quote? How many readers/listerners/viewers can know
about something without it becoming "open season"? Ten? Fifty? A thousand? What about
all of Australia being allowed to buy and read 'Spyctacher', but not the British? What if only
the citizens of Melbourne had been allowed, would Thatcher have won the case? Seems
we're on a rather slippery slope here, methinks... And then Kate Taylor wrote a rather
splendid opinion piece in the Toronto Globe & Mail yesterday: "A Celebrity Game of
" (seems you have to register, but free) which starts off: "So, folksinger Loreena
McKennitt has taken a sledgehammer to a fly...".