Sir Cliff Richard v South Yorkshire Police and the BBC

Sir Cliff Richard v South Yorkshire Police and the BBC

Sir Cliff’s High Court claim in privacy and data protection began yesterday – a case which will again bring into stark focus the ever developing law of privacy and data protection, especially when it comes  to the manner in which the press report criminal investigations (before arrest/charge), and process personal data in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998, all weighed against the need for the public to know about such issues, especially when they concern high profile public figures.

Mr Justice Mann, the Judge presiding over Sir Cliff’s claim will need to make tough decisions during the course of the lengthy upcoming trial before reaching a decision. The following are just some of the issues that he will need to consider:

  1. How did the BBC specifically find out about the Police’s interest in Sir Cliff?
  2. Were the Police acting unlawfully by means of their connection with the BBC in this matter?
  3. Should Sir Cliff have been afforded anonymity of his name not being mentioned, given he had not been charged with any offence, interviewed for any offence and was not aware of any investigation into him.
  4. Does the fact that Sir Cliff, a darling of society, an un-arguable prominent public figure, diminish his rights to privacy, in favour of the public knowing that he was of alleged interest to the Police?
  5. What triumphs – Article 8: Sir Cliff’s inherent and basic human right to a private and family life, or the freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights?

A claim of this nature is not only potentially ground breaking for the manner in which the media will be entitled, in future, to disclose those who are subject to criminal investigations but will bring back into sharp focus privacy claims which have been somewhat forgotten since the days of Imogen Thomas and Ryan Giggs, by way of example. When coupled with data protection claims, it just shows that reports such as that which the BBC published in Sir Cliff’s case, can be exposed by new and ever evolving legal avenues.

The case continues and will be no doubt be monitored closely by media platforms, journalists, media lawyers and the public at large.

Please click here to see me on Channel 5 News discussing the same (min 1.44)

John P. Spyrou

Director, Head of Media and Litigation

Pinder Reaux Solicitors