Campaigners win right to challenge Murdoch’s bid for Sky
A campaigning group opposed to Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of Sky has won permission to launch a legal challenge to the media regulator’s ruling that the broadcaster would remain “fit and proper” to hold a UK licence if it were owned by 21st Century Fox.
A high court judge said the activist group Avaaz would have its case for a judicial review of Ofcom’s decision heard before 30 June.
“The case is arguable and may raise some important points of principle,” said Justice Morris. “Permission is hereby granted.”
Avaaz has argued that Ofcom’s process and decision was flawed in a number of ways, including that it was too easy for subjects of fit and proper tests to be cleared.
It also claimed the regulator had made errors when assessing 21st Century Fox’s compliance with the UK broadcasting code, drew “wrong conclusions” from allegations of sexual and racial harassment at Fox News, and ignored the role Rupert Murdoch’s son James would play as chief executive of 21st Century Fox.
The judge said it was not necessary for the outcome of Avaaz’s court case to be known before the UK competition regulator published its final verdict on whether to clear the £11.7bn takeover of Sky in April.
The deal is being scrutinised because it raises media plurality issues, as full ownership of Sky would give the Murdochs control of Sky News as well as the Sun and the Times.
The Competition and Markets Authority is examining options regarding the future of Sky News, including whether the news channel needs to be sold, spun off or just made editorially separate from Sky in order to resolve the media plurality issue.
If Avaaz were to win its case then Ofcom would be forced to reconsider its “fit and proper” decision, which could provide yet another hurdle for the Murdochs.
An Ofcom spokesman said: “We will defend our ‘fit and proper’ assessment, which was independent, expert and based on the evidence.” at Preston crown court. She was also convicted of three counts of grievous bodily harm with intent and child cruelty relating to the victim of the earlier attack, who cannot be named for legal reasons. She will be sentenced later.
On the night Amelia was killed, a social worker left Crichton alone with the baby at her home. Within two hours the mother had inflicted “catastrophic” head injuries on her “helpless and vulnerable” child.
Amelia, born “on the cusp of life” at 24 weeks, died in hospital two days after the attack on 19 April last year.
Crichton tried to blame her partner, Richard Sheppard, for the injuries.
Outside court Det Insp Simon Cheyte of Lancashire police said: “In relation to the conviction for assault on the other child, this was subject to a previous police investigation and Jennifer Crichton was arrested but at that time it was decided by the CPS there was not enough evidence to prosecute her.
“Following the murder of Amelia, the earlier assault was reviewed and further evidence, not available to the original investigation team, was discovered. This was considered along with the supporting evidence of Amelia’s sad death.” that these may not be quick proceedings under terrorism legislation with potential for appeals. “What we have no guidance on is whether groups of men who are fighting with air cover from the French and [with] support from UK forces … whether men and woman in that situation fall under the Terrorism Act,” he said.
The magistrate, Emma Arbuthnot, said: “This is a very unusual case. It’s certainly the first case this court has had in front of it in numerous other alleged terrorism cases.”
A Metropolitan police spokesman said last week: “James Matthews, a UK national, will appear at Westminster magistrates court on February 14 to be formally charged with attending a place or places in Iraq and Syria where instruction or training was provided for purposes connected to the commission or preparation of terrorism on or before February 15 2016 under Section 8 of the Terrorism Act 2006.”