April 19, 2019

Cliff Richard, British Pop Star, Wins Privacy Suit Against BBC

Prosecutors said in 2016 that there was not enough evidence to justify criminal charges against Mr. Richard, one of Britain’s best-known entertainers, with a career spanning some 60 years.

Judge Mann said the BBC had infringed Mr. Richard’s privacy rights “without a legal justification.”

“It did so in a serious and also in a somewhat sensationalist way,” the judge said, adding that he had rejected the BBC’s argument that its reporting was justified “under its rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”

The judge said Mr. Richard’s life had been “hugely affected for almost two years by loss of public status and reputation, embarrassment, stress, upset and hurt, with some consequential health effects.”

Mr. Richard, whose name at birth in 1940 was Harry Webb, hugged supporters and wept when the judge delivered his ruling, according to reporters in the courtroom. Outside, some of Mr. Richard’s supporters sang “Congratulations,” one of his hit songs in Britain, where he was once promoted as the country’s equivalent to Elvis Presley.

One of the issues raised by the case was the question of whether reporters in Britain should be free to cite accusations against individuals before the police had filed charges.

Gideon Benaim, Mr. Richard’s lawyer, said the case had also raised “serious questions” over the BBC’s scrutiny of its journalists who, he said, had placed exclusive coverage ahead of his client’s right to privacy. He denied the BBC’s assertion that its reporters, who had apparently been tipped off by the police about the raid in 2014, were acting in the public interest.

The ruling drew sharp protests from the BBC and from other news outlets. Fran Unsworth, the BBC’s director of news, called the outcome a “significant shift against press freedom.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/world/europe/cliff-richard-bbc.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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