Richard is renowned as a leading specialist in defamation, privacy, and data protection law. His practice encompasses all aspects of media and communications law, including harassment by publication, copyright, contempt, and media-related contractual disputes.
Praise from Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 for Richard’s defamation, privacy and data protection work includes:
- “Exceptional on paper and in court”
- “Absolutely top junior – both on legal issues and strategy”
- “My first choice when it comes to this sort of work because he is incredibly user-friendly”
- “Excellent analytical and drafting skills, impressive experience for his seniority, good with clients, and a pleasure to deal with all round”
- “Respected by clients and the media industry in general”
- “Very practical, commercially focused and easy to deal with”
- “Incredibly personable and user-friendly”
- “Clear and commercial in his approach, and always provides spot-on advice”
- “Brilliant attention to detail”
- “Tenacious with impressive attention to detail”
- “A great person to have on your side – very clear and has great judgement”
A recent Who’s Who Legal named Richard as one of the two most highly regarded juniors practising in defamation and privacy law, describing him as “superb” and “one of the standout juniors in the area, consistently impressing clients by ‘always going above and beyond when instructed’ and delivering results thanks to his ‘technical expertise, responsiveness and commercial approach’”.
Richard is a member of the Media and Communications List Users Group Committee (whose judicial members include Mr Justice Nicklin and Senior Master Fontaine), which worked on the new Pre-Action Protocol and Practice Direction for the Media and Communications List, and which works to improve practice and procedure in claims for defamation, privacy, data protection and harassment by publication.
Richard is hugely experienced in defamation claims, for both claimants and defendants. Libel and slander claims in which he has acted include:
- acting for Wayne Rooney and HarperCollins Publishers in the libel claim brought against them by Rooney’s former manager David Moyes;
- Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman v ARY Network Ltd, a libel claim relating to 25 television broadcasts, securing £185k damages and the first ever publication order under s.12 of the Defamation Act 2013;
- Dar Al Arkan & Anor v Al Refai & Ors, a complex US$500m claim in the Commercial Court for libel, malicious falsehood, breach of confidence, conspiracy and various foreign law claims, involving a freezing injunction and numerous interlocutory orders;
- acting for JK Rowling in her libel claim against the publishers of the Daily Mail, obtaining permission to make a disputed unilateral statement in open court following an offer of amends;
- acting for Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan’s opposition leader, in a libel claim over an article in the Mail on Sunday accusing him of embezzlement and money laundering;
- a number of claims overlapping with unfair dismissal and Employment Tribunal claims, including Parris v Ajayi and Kostakopolou v University of Warwick;
- Prince Moulay Hicham of Morocco v Elaph, acting for the 3rd in line to the Moroccan throne in respect of allegations of disloyal and underhand plotting against his King (including succeeding in the Court of Appeal on defamatory meaning);
- acting for former Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas in his successful libel and malicious falsehood claim against the Sunday Times;
- successfully striking out claims brought by a family in relation to their exclusion from Exeter Mosque, on the basis of ‘reply to attack’ and duty-interest qualified privilege, in Abdulrazaq v Hassan;
- obtaining substantial damages for a number of professional footballers falsely accused of involvement in match-fixing;
- acting for Amazon in successfully striking out a claim brought by an author over user comments in a discussion forum;
- successfully obtaining damages and apologies from The Spectator and Melanie Phillips over an article libelling the President of the British Muslim Initiative, and from the same magazine for Islam Expo Ltd;
- obtaining an award of substantial damages and injunction for Professor AC Grayling in a libel claim over false allegations on Twitter;
- acting for the defendants in My Distance Learning College v NCFE, a complex libel, malicious falsehood and breach of contract claim valued at more than £5.5million;
- Mond v Mason, a successful claim for libel, malicious falsehood and causing loss by unlawful means by a group of accountancy firms involving numerous interlocutory applications;
- acting for Liverpool FC footballer Harry Kewell in his libel claim against Gary Lineker and the Telegraph;
- acting for boxing promoter Frank Warren in his successful libel claim against boxer Herbie Hide;
- acting for dressage trainer Andrew Gould in relation to claims about his relationship with Katie Price; and
- advising the charity Shelter in relation to a threatened claim over a report into rogue landlords.
The many privacy and confidentiality matters Richard has acted in have included:
- acting for numerous celebrities, sportsmen, businesses and individuals in respect of the publication of private and confidential information online and in newspapers and magazines;
- acting in the leading decisions on privacy and freedom of expression, Von Hannover v Germany (No 2) and Axel Springer v Germany in the European Court of Human Rights, for the Media Legal Defence Initiative, the International Press Institute, and The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers;
- acting for Mirror Group Newspapers in the on-going phone hacking litigation, relating to hundreds of claims from celebrities and others in respect of phone hacking and other unlawful information gathering activities. This has raised numerous complex issues, in particular as to the protection of journalistic sources, legal professional privilege, disclosure, and Part 36 offers, as well as privacy issues more generally;
- acting for Ian Edmondson, former News of the World Assistant Editor, in the News Group phone hacking litigation and at the Leveson Inquiry;
- acting for former boxer Ricky Hatton in respect of photographs and articles about his private life;
- obtaining injunctions against Google and Facebook in respect of private and confidential information published online; and
- acting for a child rape victim indirectly identified in a local newspaper.
Data protection is a significant part of Richard’s practice. Matters on which he has acted include:
- the landmark case of Prince Moulay Hicham of Morocco v Elaph, before both the High Court and Court of Appeal, on bringing claims for inaccurate personal data alongside libel;
- advising Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in respect of inaccurate sensitive personal data published online;
- advising a number of organisations, including the Bar Standards Board, on their obligations under the DPA, GDPR, PECR and ePrivacy Directive;
- various data breach claims, acting for both data subjects and controllers;
- claims relating to operators of databases provided for Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Client purposes, including ‘Politically Exposed Persons’;
- ‘right to be forgotten’/right to erasure requests and applications to Google and the ICO (Richard led the seminar on the implications of the Google Spain ‘Right to be forgotten’ judgment at Conference5RB);
- subject access requests under the DPA and GDPR, advising individuals and organisations;
- successfully defending a police force in a DPA and HRA claim in respect of an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate; and
- acting for music festival organisers in respect of a substantial ICO monetary penalty.
Richard also has great experience of making and resisting applications for injunctions in harassment in cases relating to actual or threatened publication, online or offline, including:
- SPA v TAS, obtaining an injunction against a former employee spreading damaging allegations online;
- successfully resisting a claim for an injunction brought by actor and author David Walliams and his ex-wife against a well known photography agency;
- McNally v Saunders, successfully striking out a harassment claim brought by a local government officer over repeated blogs critical of her (‘The Sandwell Skidder’);
- Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman v ARY, in respect of a campaign of vilification carried out on television, raising jurisdiction issues;
- obtaining injunctions and damages for a businessman, the subject of an anonymity order, in respect of a vicious campaign of vilification by leaflet, post and email;
- acting for a photographer sued for harassment by One Direction singer Harry Styles;
- acting for organisations, including a well-known healthcare provider and a betting exchange, to obtain anti-harassment injunctions to protect their employees and clients; and
- acting for a well-known author whose emails were hacked and who was harassed and impersonated on social media, obtaining undertakings which ultimately led to the harasser’s imprisonment.
Richard has also advised and acted on various copyright matters relating to the music, television and publishing industries, including:
- acting for Aston “Family Man” Barrett (Bob Marley & The Wailers) against Universal-Island Records in his claim for songwriting credits and royalties on well-known Marley recordings;
- for Associated Newspapers in a privacy and copyright claim brought by singer Lily Allen;
- for the claimants in Dar Al Arkan & Anor v Al Refai & Ors, in respect of stolen and copied documents appearing on a website;
- for Manchester United FC in respect of misuse of a confidential database;
- for Uri Geller in respect of footage broadcast by a national broadcaster;
- for the estate of J.R.Tolkien in respect of unlicensed imitations of the “One Ring” from the Lord of the Rings trilogy;
- providing pre-publication copyright advice to broadcasters, newspapers and publishers, in particular on fair dealing issues.
- Before joining 5RB, Richard was a Research Associate at the Oxford Intellectual Property Research Centre.
In addition to the contractual elements in several of the claims referred to above, Richard has been involved in claims over music management contracts, publishing disputes and a claim relating to a series of popular music documentary films.
He has also acted in professional negligence matters relating to media and entertainment law.
In addition to litigation, Richard provides pre-publication advice on libel, contempt, copyright and other legal issues to national newspapers, broadcasters, and book publishers.
Pegasus Scholar 2007: Richard spent three months working in the media department of solicitors Mallesons Stephen Jaques in Sydney, marshalling at the New South Wales Supreme Court, and in-house at publishers Fairfax Media.
Levitt Scholar, Lord Denning Scholar, and Hardwicke Scholar of Lincoln’s Inn