BBC statement regarding ruling in Sir Cliff Richard case

Date: 18.07.2018     Last updated: 18.07.2018 at 10.41
Category: Corporate; News
Statement from Fran Unsworth, Director of News and Current Affairs, in relation to the ruling in Sir Cliff Richard, OBE v BBC.

“We are sorry for the distress that Sir Cliff has been through. We understand the very serious impact that this has had on him. 

"We have thought long and hard about how we covered this story. On reflection there are things we would have done differently, however the judge has ruled that the very naming of Sir Cliff was unlawful. So even had the BBC not used helicopter shots or ran the story with less prominence, the Judge would still have found that the story was unlawful; despite ruling that what we broadcast about the search was accurate. 

"This judgment creates new case law and represents a dramatic shift against press freedom and the long-standing ability of journalists to report on police investigations, which in some cases has led to further complainants coming forward. 

"This impacts not just the BBC, but every media organisation.  

"This isn’t just about reporting on individuals. It means police investigations, and searches of people’s homes, could go unreported and unscrutinised. It will make it harder to scrutinise the conduct of the police and we fear it will undermine the wider principle of the public’s right to know. It will put decision-making in the hands of the police. 

"We don’t believe this is compatible with liberty and press freedoms; something that has been at the heart of this country for generations.

"For all of these reasons, there is a significant principle at stake. That is why the BBC is looking at an appeal."