The trial of the privacy and data protection claims brought by Sir Cliff Richard against the BBC will begin on Thursday 12 April 2018 before Mr Justice Mann. The trial is listed for 10 days. The trial will deal with a number of new and important issues concerning privacy and the reporting of police investigations.
The claim arises out of the BBC coverage of a raid by the South Yorkshire police on the Claimant’s flat in Sunningdale on 14 August 2014. A BBC journalist had obtained advance information about the raid from the South Yorkshire Police and the BBC covered it with journalists, photographers and a helicopter.
The lunchtime BBC News on the day of raid featured the raid as its headline item, naming the Claimant was being under investigation for an alleged historic sexual offence against a boy under 16. The story was accompanied by live on the ground reporting and nearly live footage from the helicopter.
The Claimant has always denied the allegations against him. He was never arrested and, on 16 June 2016, the CPS announced that he would face no charges.
Proceedings were issued by the Claimant on 6 October 2016. He sought damages for invasion of privacy, breaches of his Article 8 rights and his rights under the Data Protection Act 1998 from the BBC and the South Yorkshire Police.
In May 2017, the South Yorkshire Police admitted liability and agreed to pay the Claimant substantial damages and legal costs. The Judge rejected objections by the BBC ( EWHC 1648 (Ch)) to a proposed statement in open court [pdf] which was read on 26 May 2017.
There was a pre-trial review on 8 March 2018 which considered the question as to whether CPR Part 36 prevented disclosure of the amount of a settlement reached under the Part 36 procedure. The Judge held that it did not but the question as to whether the sum should be disclosed for the purpose of contribution proceedings was put over to the trial.
The trial will deal with liability, general and aggravated damages and some parts of the financial loss claim. It will also deal with the contribution claims between the BBC and South Yorkshire Police. If the Claimant is successful the second part of the trial will deal with the remaining claims for financial loss.
The trial will involve the consideration of a number of important legal issues concerning the privacy of individuals who are under investigation by the police and the scope of the “journalistic exemption” in section 32 of the Data Protection Act 1998.
The claimant is represented by Justin Rushbrooke QC and Godwin Busuttil, instructed by Simkins LLP. The Defendant is represented by Gavin Millar QC and Aidan Eardley, instructed by the BBC Litigation Department.