On 12th April 2018, the trial of Sir Cliff Richard v BBC & South Yorkshire Police began hearing evidence relating to a number of claims following a police search of Sir Cliff’s home in 2014.
South Yorkshire Police were carrying out the search in relation to allegations of an offence dating back to the 1980s. It should be noted here that Sir Cliff was never arrested over the claims and, in 2016, the CPS announced that no charges would be brought.
Before the search, a BBC journalist received information from a source of the impending events allowing the BBC to broadcast full coverage from outside Sir Cliff’s home and in the air from a helicopter above the house while naming Sir Cliff as the subject of the raid.
Previously, the BBC has been asked to confirm or deny whether the source of their tip-off came from inside Operation Yewtree or from someone who themselves had received the information from Yewtree.
The BBC has refused to answer that request claiming to do so would “risk identifying its journalist’s source.”
An appeal against this was made by Sir Cliff and granted in May 2017 with the judge agreeing that disclosure of whether the source came from within the operation would not risk the source being revealed or an internal investigation.
Sir Cliff has now taken the decision to sue the BBC and South Yorkshire Police for misuse of private information and/or a breach of Article 8 ECHR as well as under the Data Protection Act 1998.
The hearing of evidence concluded on the 26th of April and the trial will recommence on the 8th May with a verdict due on the 26th May.
This case is unique for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is very rare for a broadcaster like the BBC to be the subject of legal challenges around privacy which are usually taken against newspapers, particularly tabloids. Secondly, the outcome of this case could have huge ramifications for the way journalists are allowed to pursue stories surrounding police suspects.
Whatever the outcome, data privacy is a hot topic at the minute and with people keen to protect their privacy, disputes can arise. If you think you may have a claim against a company or individual for the misuse of private information, please get in touch with our experienced litigation team on 0845 287 0939 or contact us online today.