David Hirst


David specialises in defamation, privacy and confidence, data protection, IP, harassment and other media and entertainment related work and is recommended as a junior barrister in defamation in directories such as Chambers & Partners 2013.

David has undertaken a variety of work in the High Court and County Court and represented clients at mediations/ADR. David acts for media organisations and publishers, companies, public figures and private individuals. David is public access accredited and can be instructed directly by members of the public and companies in suitable cases and by all publishers, tv, film and theatre producers and media companies for pre-publication advice.

David has a particular interest in media law cases with technological aspects and advising on investigative reporting.

David’s recent work has included:

• obtaining harassment injunctions to protect companies and individuals from internet harassment campaigns

• obtaining a number of orders for The Times for access to court documents under the open justice principle in insolvency courts

• representing an MP in a libel dispute in relation to 2010 General Election campaign literature at first instance and on appeal

• representing a whistleblower in breach of confidence proceedings brought by his ex-employer

• advising an international airline and oil company in a blackmail/libel/harassment dispute

• securing compensation for breach of privacy against a local authority website

• representing the Kingdom of Norway in a number of internet libel claims brought by a British citizen in London which were struck out

• representing a prep school in an internet defamation claim where the identity of the defendant was initially unknown

• representing a director of a hedge fund in a privacy claim brought by her former husband over surveillance

• representing an interpreter sued for libel over an email to other interpreters at trial and on an appeal concerning qualified privilege and malice

• representing media organisations on issues of contempt of court, reporting restrictions and protection of journalistic sources

• representing a newspaper editor in relation to his evidence to the Leveson Enquiry

• representing a law firm in parallel proceedings in libel (Court of Appeal) and harassment concerned with the immunity of absolute privilege (appeal to High Court – to be heard Spring 2014)

• representing a newspaper and editor in a prosecution for breach of a reporting restriction in a high profile criminal trial

• representing a number of claimants whose photographs were wrongly used in newspapers, obtaining compensation variously of £5200, £18,000 and £45,000

• representing a telecoms company in parallel breach of confidence and defamation proceedings

obtaining a wide variety of Norwich Pharmacal disclosure orders against a number of ISPs, blogs and foreign websites

• advising book publishers and NGOs on responsible journalism defences and confidentiality, including major works on international espionage, the arms trade and major political biographies

• representing the Mayor of a London Borough in a slander claim and in subsequent proceedings about the improper conduct of litigation under the Legal Services Act 2007 by the claimant

• a landmark appeal on the confidentiality and admissibility of irregularly acquired data on personal wealth in matrimonial finance proceedings – Imerman v Tchenguiz

• representing a UK company in a libel compensation assessment in which it was awarded £50,000

• advising national newspapers on investigative reporting series on tax avoidance, child abuse cases and the horse meat scandal

• a high profile sportsman in a privacy and harassment dispute with a tabloid newspaper

• representing a local newspaper and police in claims based on court reports of a harassment case

• representing defendants on a number of successful Part 24 summary judgment and abuse of process strike out applications in defamation and privacy

• acting for claimants and publishers in a large number of libel actions brought in relation to websites, emails, reports, blog and forum postings and traditional media, including extensive notification and “take down” work.

David has experience of obtaining harassment and privacy injunctions for well-known figures and private individuals and media access to documents and closed proceedings in family courts and the Court of Protection.

Since 2005 he has provided pre-publication advice to The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent and The Sunday Times, principally around libel, privacy, contempt and reporting restrictions. David regularly advises a number of independent tv, film and radio production companies on pre and post broadcast legal and compliance issues, NGOs and charitable organisations on the publication of investigative reports, major publishing houses, magazines and specialist web-only publishers. He also has extensive experience of advising trade unions and public sector employees and local authorities on their liabilities in defamation, data protection and privacy. David has advised a number of companies on data protection policy and on subject access requests.

David has also conducted media law training and awareness seminars with charities, campaign groups and media organisations.

David trained at 5RB, and during and since pupillage, David has gained substantial experience of all Chambers’ areas of practice and has contributed to Gatley on Libel and Slander, The Law of Privacy and the Media and Lexis PSL on media law.

In 2007 David spent 6 months on secondment from 5RB in the media litigation team at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP.

David was an outgoing Pegasus Scholar in 2008 attached to leading US media law firms Hogan & Hartson LLP in New York and Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz in Washington DC.

Before coming to the bar David spent a year working at the Serious Organised Crime Agency on the legal aspects of Hi-tech crime and completing research on the news media during the Second World War at Cambridge University.



2003 Called to the bar


Malvern College, Hereford & Worcester - 1990-1995
Trinity College, Cambridge (MA Modern History - 1st Class) - 1996-1999
Trinity College, Cambridge (M.Phil Historical Studies) - 1999-2000
City University (CPE - Commendation) - 2000-2001
Inns of Court School of Law (BVC - Very Competent) - 2001-2002

Areas of work

  • Contempt
  • Data Protection
  • Defamation
  • General Common Law
  • Harassment
  • Human Rights
  • Injunctive Relief
  • Malicious Falsehood
  • Media Law
  • Passing off
  • Pre-publication Advice
  • Privacy and Confidence
  • Public Access
  • Publishing
  • Reporting the Courts


Senior Scholarship, Trinity College, Cambridge

Postgraduate Scholarship, Trinity College, Cambridge

Bedingfield Scholarship, Gray’s Inn

Pegasus Scholarship, Inner Temple

Scholarship, Malvern College



Krause v Newsquest Media Group Ltd

[2013] EWHC 3400 (QB) 11/11/2013

Smith v Dha

[2013] EWHC 838 (QB) 12/04/2013

Waterson v Lloyd

[2013] EWCA Civ 136; [2013] EMLR 17 28/02/2013

Cambridge v Makin

[2012] EWCA Civ 85 09/02/2012

Waterson v Lloyd (No 2)

[2011] EWHC 3292 (QB) 13/12/2011

Waterson v Lloyd

[2011] EWHC 3197 (QB) 08/12/2011

Farid El Diwany v Ministry of Justice

[2011] EWHC 2077 (QB) 29/07/2011

Jan Cambridge v Guillermo Makin

[2011] EWHC 12(QB) 12/01/2011

Driza v Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd

[2010] EWHC 2829 (QB) 06/10/2010

Metropolitan International Schools Ltd v Designtechnica Corporation & Ors

[2010] EWHC 2411 (QB) 01/10/2010

Kahangi & Ors v Nourizadeh

[2009] EWHC 2451 (QB) 09/10/2009

Metropolitan International Schools Ltd v (1) Designtechnica Corporation (2) Google UK Ltd & (3) Google Inc

[2009] EWHC 1765 (QB); [2009] EMLR 27 16/07/2009

Freer v Zeb & Ors

[2008] EWHC 212 (QB) 18/02/2008

Privacy and Confidence

Driza v Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd

[2010] EWHC 2829 (QB) 06/10/2010

Foreign Jurisdictions

Farid El Diwany v Ministry of Justice

[2011] EWHC 2077 (QB) 29/07/2011

Metropolitan International Schools Ltd v (1) Designtechnica Corporation (2) Google UK Ltd & (3) Google Inc

[2009] EWHC 1765 (QB); [2009] EMLR 27 16/07/2009

Media Law

Cambridge v Makin

[2012] EWCA Civ 85 09/02/2012

Metropolitan International Schools Ltd v Designtechnica Corporation & Ors

[2010] EWHC 2411 (QB) 01/10/2010

Metropolitan International Schools Ltd v (1) Designtechnica Corporation (2) Google UK Ltd & (3) Google Inc

[2009] EWHC 1765 (QB); [2009] EMLR 27 16/07/2009


31 Jan 2013

Businessman awarded £7,500 for twitter campaign

£500,000 malicious falsehood claim struck out

1 Jun 2012

Disclosure order against internet trolling

Norwich Pharmacal jurisdiction used against social media site

8 Dec 2011

Summary judgment for ex-MP

Election campaign newsletter claim succeeds

28 Oct 2011

5RB tops Chambers and Partners 2012

Adam Wolanski wins Defamation and Privacy Junior Barrister of the Year

27 Sep 2011

‘Truly experts’

The Legal 500 review 2012

17 Mar 2011

New edition of privacy book published

Second edition of Tugendhat & Christie: The Law of Privacy and the Media published

12 Jan 2011

Interpreter awarded £30,000 for libel

Justification and QP defences fail, malice proven

30 Nov 2010

New Supplement to Gatley published

The First Supplement to the 11th edition of Gatley on Libel and Slander has been published by Sweet & Maxwell

7 Oct 2010

Company awarded internet libel damages

£50,000 compensation for extensive attacks in web forum

20 Jul 2009

Google held not to be a publisher

Search engine not liable for defamatory search results, rules Eady J

16 Jan 2009

Express pays £35k to a property advisor for Mafia slurs

Intimidation allegations against UK national withdrawn

4 Oct 2004

5RB Welcomes New Tenants & Pupils

Richard Munden and David Hirst join 5RB

Download vCard