David Hirst

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 and Legal 500 2015.

David undertakes a wide variety of work in the High Court and County Court and represents 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 an acknowledged interest and expertise in media law cases with technological aspects.

David’s recent media law work has included:

• obtaining several harassment injunctions to protect a number of companies and individuals from internet harassment campaigns

• advising on access to documents from courts and tribunals generally, including obtaining a number of orders for The Times for access to court documents under the open justice principle in insolvency courts

• representing the Metropolitan Police in a number of libel actions, including on a trial of meaning as a preliminary issue and in an abuse of process application

• representing a whistleblower in breach of confidence proceedings brought by his ex-employer which were eventually struck out

• representing a genealogical research company in proceedings for pre-action disclosure in an internet libel campaign

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

• advising individuals on a number of claims under the Google Spain ‘right to be forgotten’ in data protection law, including appeals to the Information Commissioner and strategies for take down of information from search results and other websites

• resisting successfully a number of international requests for UK business intelligence companies to disclose confidential sources in high-profile US commercial litigation

• representing a hedge fund on civil disclosure applications against internet and software companies in response to a misappropriation of valuable commercial IP by an employee

• representing a UK publishing house in respect of a data protection claim in relation to a child abuse memoir

• representing a school in an internet defamation claim where the identity of the defendant was initially unknown, on appeal, and securing a substantial award of damages and an injunction (with Justin Rushbrooke KC)

• representing a director of a hedge fund in a privacy and harassment 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 an NGO in libel claims in relation to a landmark anti-corruption report

• representing successfully a law firm in parallel proceedings in libel (Court of Appeal) and harassment (High Court) concerned with the immunity of absolute privilege

• 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 substantial compensation on each occasion

• 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 including Google, BT, Twitter, Change.org, Virgin, Sky, Facebook, Moneysavingexpert, Which?, 3, Yahoo and Microsoft.

• advising book publishers, newspapers, magazines and NGOs, including many based in the US or Europe, 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

• twice representing companies in libel damages assessments in which on each occasion the company was awarded £50,000

• advising national newspapers on investigative reporting series on tax avoidance, child abuse cases, the horse meat scandal, BaE Systems and FIFA corruption, and blood doping in international athletics

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

• representing a documentary maker sued by a murderer serving a whole life tariff in respect of a film about his crimes

• 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’s work for clients on a public access basis has included a successful private defence of a harassment prosecution brought against a blogger, obtaining several awards of libel damages against former employers and club members, privacy complaints to Google and a number of Norwich Pharmacal applications tracing anonymous or pseudonymous online activity. In 2015 David represented a yacht consultant in an international libel dispute where special damages of €135m were claimed.

David has substantial experience representing media in applications for access to documents and closed proceedings in family courts and the Court of Protection, and on applications to resist or vary reporting restrictions in criminal and family cases.

For 10 years David 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 ever since 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 Mediaand 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 worked 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 of England and Wales


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

Data Protection and Information Law
Defamation and Malicious Falsehood
General Common Law
Injunctive Relief
Pre-publication Advice
Privacy and Confidence
Reporting the Courts and Contempt


Legal 500 2024 (Defamation/Privacy)
“David’s advocacy is well-poised and diligent. He is a great addition to any legal team.”

Chambers & Partners 2020 (Defamation/Privacy)
Strengths: “He’s very good on technical issues such as internet publications and getting disclosure.”

Senior Scholarship, Trinity College, Cambridge

Postgraduate Scholarship, Trinity College, Cambridge

Bedingfield Scholarship, Gray’s Inn

Pegasus Scholarship, Inner Temple

Scholarship, Malvern College

All cases

Defamation and Malicious Falsehood

Zahir Monir v Steve Wood

[2018] EWHC 3525 (QB) 19/12/2018

Anglia Research Ltd v Finders Genealogists Ltd

[2016] EWHC 297 (QB) 24/02/2016

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

[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


[2020] EWHC 1349 (QB) 27/05/2020

Driza v Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd

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


Anglia Research Ltd v Finders Genealogists Ltd

[2016] EWHC 297 (QB) 24/02/2016

5RB Talks

5RB Talks: Cardiff

13 Mar 2015
With Christina Michalos KC, William Bennett KC & David Hirst

In 5RB News

20 Oct 2023

5RB tops rankings in Chambers & Partners

18 Oct 2023

Ruling in corporate libel claims over links to former Kazakh President

Court hands down judgment in claim brought by Jusan Technologies Limited against Telegraph Media Group and OpenDemocracy

5 Oct 2023

5RB named Tier 1 set in Defamation and privacy by The Legal 500

3 Jan 2023

5RB cases dominate Spear’s reputation cases roundup 2022

7 Oct 2022

5RB named top set by The Legal 500

Directory rankings also released

3 Mar 2021

Mail pays libel damages to psychologist

ANL accepts that allegations about Dr Elly Hanson were untrue

11 Jan 2018

Katie Hopkins refused permission to appeal

Sharp LJ refuses PTA against decision of Warby J; also refuses permission in Guise v Shah

2 Nov 2017

“The pre-eminent set”: Chambers UK

5RB and members recommended for Defamation & Privacy and Data Protection in 2018 Chambers UK Bar Guide

11 Oct 2017

5RB ‘dominates the field’ in Legal 500

Chambers and members recommended for Defamation & Privacy, Data Protection, and Media and Entertainment work in legal directory

6 Jul 2017

Consultant wins Dental CPD dispute

Dr Andrew Guise awarded £28k in libel & harassment damages

24 Feb 2016

Pre-action disclosure in Heir Hunters dispute

Ruling breathes new life into unused disclosure jurisdiction

31 Oct 2014

5RB tops Chambers & Partners 2015

Set and 19 barristers recommended in UK Bar Guide

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