Sir Cliff Richard v BBC trial to begin

Trial of claims in misuse of private information and under the DPA starts Thursday 12th April

The trial in the case of Sir Cliff Richard v BBC & South Yorkshire Police begins tomorrow, Thursday 12 April 2018, before Mr Justice Mann. It is expected to last for two weeks.

The claim is brought in misuse of private information and/or a breach of Article 8 ECHR as well as under the Data Protection Act 1998. It relates to BBC coverage of a search of Sir Cliff’s home carried out by South Yorkshire Police in 2014. The BBC named Sir Cliff and covered the raid with live reporting on the ground and aerial footage shot from a helicopter above his home. The search related to an allegation of an offence dating from the 1980s, which the Claimant denied at all times. The Claimant was never arrested and the CPS announced that no charges would be brought in 2016.

South Yorkshire Police admitted liability in making disclosures of private information to the BBC in 2014, paid substantial damages and made a statement in open court. The Claimant made an interim application, which was granted by Mann J in May 2017, to identify whether the BBC’s source was from within Operation Yewtree.

The trial will cover liability, general and aggravated damages and some parts of his claim for special damages. The BBC’s and South Yorkshire Police’s Part 20 claims against each other for a contribution will also be dealt with. If the Claimant succeeds then a second part of the trial will cover the outstanding parts of the claim for special damages.

The trial will address the scope of Article 8 in relation to reports of police activity before arrest and the nature of the BBC’s coverage, as well as the question of Article 10 rights in reporting on such investigations and on information provided by police. The trial will in particular involve consideration of whether the BBC’s reporting was in the public interest.

In relation to the DPA, the claim raises the scope of the section 32 ‘journalistic exemption’ and of the conditions for fair and lawful processing under Schedules 2 and 3.

5RB’s Justin Rushbrooke QC and Godwin Busuttil act for the Claimant; Adam Wolanski acts for the South Yorkshire Police.