CLOSE

Media Defence intervention success in Axel Springer case

Media Defence intervention success in Axel Springer case

 

German courts breached German newspaper Bild’s right to freedom of expression when they banned further publication of an article about former Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2005, the European Court of Human Rights held last week.

The case concerned an article that repeated doubts, raised by the leader of the opposition, that Schröder had called early elections in order to secure his controversial appointment as chairman of the supervisory board of a German-Russian gas consortium. Schröder had helped negotiate a deal on the construction of a gas pipeline from Russia whilst in office.

The German courts ruled that the allegation was defamatory and, although it had been made by the leader of the opposition, the media could not reprint the allegation unless they took full responsibility for its truthfulness and obtained a response from the former Chancellor.

With the help of leading lawyers Heather Rogers QC and Jessica Simor QC, MLDI intervened in the case, proposing five principles that should govern similar cases. Agreeing with MLDI’s submissions, the European Court considered among others that the article contributed to a debate of general interest related to Schröder’s conduct as Chancellor and his controversial appointment shortly thereafter, which was not part of his private life. The European Court also held that Bild was not required to systematically verify every comment made by one politician about another, or to include elements in favour of Schröder in its reporting. According to the European Court, the punishment of a journalist for assisting in the dissemination of statements made by another person would seriously hamper the contribution of the press to the debate on matters of public interest.

The ECHR judgment can be read here. MLDI is grateful for the assistance of Heather Rogers QC and Jessica Simor QC in this case.

Recent News

Azerbaijan held liable for blocking Radio Free Europe’s websites by ECtHR

The case relates to the blocking of RFE’s websites in 2017, and was one of four separate cases involving website blocking that were considered by the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECtHR’). The websites were blocked with immediate effect, pending an application for a court order by the relevant government agency. According to the government, […]

Read

Media Defence Files Intervention at European Court to Protect Anonymity Online

Media Defence has filed a third-party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Koumiotis v Greece to protect anonymity online. The case concerns criminal proceedings against the applicant, the owner and manager of an online blog. The applicant, following a series of posts criticising a businessman, was convicted of slanderous defamation. The […]

Read

Call for Consultants: Independent evaluation of ‘International Network of Internet Freedom Lawyers (INIFL)’ multi-regional project

1. About Media Defence Media Defence’s Vision A world where journalists no longer face legal challenges that threaten their ability to report freely and independently on issues of public interest, allowing citizens to be better informed, able to hold those in power to account. Media Defence’s Mission  To ensure legal protection of journalists and media […]

Read