YouGov Poll: Public backs Court’s decision in Cliff Richard Case, 86% favour investigation anonymity

24 07 2018

A YouGov opinion poll conducted on 19 and 20 July 2018 has shown overwhelming public support for pre-charge anonymity of suspects.  The results are startling: 86% of respondents support the anonymity of suspects under inviestgation and 83% support the anonymity of those arrested.Mr Justice Mann’s decision in Sir Cliff Richard v BBC that the claimant had a right to privacy when under investigation has been subject to almost universal criticism in the press.  It has been suggested that this a serious threat to press freedom. Few media outlets have published the contrary view that the right to privacy of suspects should generally prevail.

The poll results show that the public has not been convinced by the one sided media coverage of the Cliff Richard judgment.

A striking feature of the poll is that, contrary to the current approach of the courts, a majority of the public (60%) favour post-charge pre-trial anonymity with 62% favouring anonymity for those on trial who have not yet been found guilty of an offence.  This accords with the position in a number of other European countries.

It is only after conviction that the large majority favour the naming of individuals, with 88% in favour of the publication of the name at that stage.

As with press regulation (where a majority of the public favour statutory regulation) the press are out of step with their readers on an issue which involves their own interests.

They details of the polls are set out here

The full results of the poll can be found here [pdf].


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15 08 2018
Sir Cliff Richard privacy case: BBC announces decision not to seek permission to appeal | Inforrm's Blog

[…] In common with the rest of the media, the BBC continues to fail to report that the overwhelming majority of the publish supports pre-charge anonymity (see our post here). […]

3 09 2018
The Sir Cliff Richard v BBC ruling is a significant precedent and damaging to media freedom – CIoJ Journal

[…] position on anonymity for criminal suspects is backed by an opinion poll conducted by YouGov where 86% of respondents support the anonymity of suspects under investigation and 62% favour […]

24 12 2018
Drone hysteria and the serial privacy invaders of the British Press – Hugh Tomlinson QC | Inforrm's Blog

[…] the Cliff Richard decision  as an attack on press freedom and wholly ignored the subsequent YouGov poll which showed that an extraordinary 86% of the population favour investigation […]

14 01 2019
Law and Media Round Up – 14 January 2019 | Inforrm's Blog

[…] The most high profile media law story over the past month involved a couple who were arrested over the “Gatwick drone chaos” and later released without charge. We had a post about this Drone hysteria and the serial privacy invaders of the British Press. There was a piece in the Press Gazette.  The case resulted in Conservative MP Anna Soubry repeating her calls for a “Cliff’s Law” to stop suspects being named before they are charged (a position which commands overwhelming support among the general public). […]

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