Law experts aim to shed light on secrecy culture

Conference will be relevant to press, broadcast and online journalists

A special session on Freedom of Information will be one of the highlights of the annual Law for Journalists conference, run jointly by Press Gazette and the Newspaper Society, which is being held in London on 26 November.

The Freedom of Information Act becomes law on 1 January next year and will give journalists the right to request information from the government, local authorities and public bodies. The session will be chaired by Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, who will explain how lawyers and journalists will be able to use their new rights.

The session will also feature Michael Smyth, head of public policy at Clifford Chance; David Hencke, The Guardian; Paul Francis, political editor, Kent Messenger; and freelance sub-editor and journalism trainer Frank Le Duc.

They will be among top media lawyers and journalists who will speak at the conference. Other issues to be discussed will be the opening of courts to cameras, the controversial “no-win, no-fee” conditional fee agreements, how to challenge central and local government bans and court secrecy.

The conference will be of relevance to national and regional press, online and broadcast media, for journalists and other editorial staff, students, trainers, and media lawyers.

Speakers will include: Andrew Caldecott QC on libel; John Battle, head of compliance, ITN, on court reporting restrictions; Marcus Partington, head of editorial legal department, Trinity Mirror, on privacy claims and the media; Jan Tomalin, controller of legal and compliance, Channel 4, on investigative journalism and the law. Website legal issues will also be discussed.

Santha Rasaiah, the society’s director of political, editorial and regulatory affairs, said of the conference speakers: “These are the experts to whom the media turns when it faces legal problems. The conference will provide the practical advice that journalists need on negotiating the law to help the investigation, publication and defence of their stories. ” The full list of speakers is still being finalised.

Reservations for the conference, to be held at the Royal Society for the Arts, 8 John Adam Street, London WC2 6EZ, can be made through Aimee Lester, conference manager, 19 Scarbrook Road, Croydon CR9 1LX.

Tel: 0208 565 4292; fax: 020 8565 4395; e-mail:aimeel@quantumbusiness media.com.

Tickets for Newspaper Society members, and Press Gazette subscribers, cost £270 + VAT. Multiple booking rate for three or more delegates is £245 + VAT per delegate.

Tickets for non-members/non-subscribers cost £350 +VAT. Multiple booking rate for three or more delegates is £310 + VAT per delegate.

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