Cliff Richard Wins BBC Privacy Case And $275,000 In Damages Plus Settlement

A London court ruled on July 18 that the BBC violated Cliff Richard’s privacy rights when covering a police raid on his home in 2014.
Cliff Richard
AP Photo / Scanpix
– Cliff Richard
Live at the Spektrum in Oslo, Norway

The raid was conducted, because Richard was named as a suspect in a case that involved child sex allegations dating back to the 1980s. The BBC had covered the raid, which included flying a helicopter over his home in Berkshire to capture footage.
The singer, however, was never arrested or charged.
Richard subsequently sued the public broadcaster and South Yorkshire Police for invasion of his privacy. The court has now ruled in favor of the plaintiff, who will receive £210,000 ($275,000) in damages, after already settling with police for £400,000 ($523,000) outside of court, according to the Guardian.
Justice Anthony Mann acknowledged that there is “a very significant public interest in the fact of police investigations into historic sex abuse, including the fact that those investigations are pursued against those in public life.”
However, taking the facts of the case into account, he concluded that “the public interest in identifying those persons does not, in my view, exist in this case. If I am wrong about that, it is not very weighty and is heavily outweighed by the seriousness of the invasion.”
Gideon Benaim of London based media and commercial law firm Simkins LLP, who represented Richard, read the following statement on the way out of court yesterday: “Sir Cliff is of course very pleased with the Court’s judgment today, in which the Judge concluded that, and I quote, ‘the BBC went in for an invasion of Sir Cliff’s privacy rights in a big way.’ 
“Mr Justice Mann’s ruling is that the BBC’s conduct was unlawful and a very serious invasion of privacy rights. The case clearly confirms that individuals, including high profile ones, have a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to police investigations.
“Although he felt it necessary to pursue this case and the sum awarded in damages is one of the highest ever in this area of law, Sir Cliff’s motivation was not for personal gain, as he knew all along that he would be substantially out of pocket no matter what.”
According to the Guardian, the case set Richard back £3.4 million ($4.4 million).
Benaim continued: “What Sir Cliff wanted was for the BBC to acknowledge that what it had done to him was unlawful. Before litigation commenced we asked the BBC to accept this and to apologize. Sir Cliff would have been reasonable in relation to damages had they agreed to do so. Not only did they refuse to apologise but they were defiant, repeatedly telling the world that this was public interest journalism, when it was not. They even submitted the story for an award, which the Judge found to be an aggravating factor.
“The Judge came to the clear conclusion that Sir Cliff’s privacy rights were not outweighed by the BBC’s right to freedom of expression, and, that there did not exist a public interest in identifying him.”
The statement in full can be found here.
BBC is contemplating an appeal of the court’s decision. It fears that the ruling sets a dangerous precedent, because the judge didn’t just take the BBC’s use of a helicopter as an invasion of Richard’s privacy, but also the mere mentioning of the singer’s name as a suspect. 
“It means, going forward, people who are suspects in police investigations, save in exceptional circumstances, are entitled to reasonably expect the matter is kept private and not covered by the media,” the BBC writes, calling it “a dark day for news reporting.”
The BBC argues that “naming the suspects has sometimes resulted in additional complainants coming forward.”