The BBC has agreed to pay out £2m in legal costs to Sir Cliff Richard, after the broadcaster was found to have unlawfully invaded Sir Cliff’s privacy.
Richard last year won a landmark case after the BBC filmed a police raid on his home and reported that he was being investigated over historical child sexual abuse claims. He was never arrested or charged. He later sued the BBC for invasion of privacy.
Hacked Off Policy Manager Nathan Sparkes said:
“Any decision to publicly name an individual under police suspicion before they are charged should be taken in an accountable manner where the public interest is balanced against the privacy interests of the individual – the police having regard for the interests of justice, the welfare and wishes of the alleged victims, and specifically, the likelihood of more alleged victims coming forward. It should not be, as it appears to have been in this case, that Sir Cliff’s name was revealed as a result of a secret deal stitched up between a reporter and the police.”
“The police’s guidelines on reporting the names of individuals not yet charged are that they should not do so “unless there is a legitimate policing purpose” for naming, such as the need to bring forward witnesses. It appears there was no such purpose in this case, and if there had been, a decision should have been reached in an accountable and transparent manner.
“There are many examples of ordinary people having their lives destroyed in this way. The couple accused of flying drones at Gatwick in Christmas 2018, or Christopher Jefferies (now a Patron of Hacked Off), an innocent man who was arrested for the murder of Joanna Yeates, all had their names published before charges were brought for no good reason other than to sell newspapers. They were entirely innocent, and yet their names were broadcast in association with crimes they did not commit. Their vindication is rarely published with similar prominence to the smears.
“There are circumstances where there may be good reasons to name a person before they have been charged, but decisions to do so must be taken accountably.
“The media should scrutinise justice, not administer it.”
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Hacked Off is the campaign for a free and accountable press, and we work with the victims of press abuse to achieve those aims.