Headline- Round Up: Sir Cliff Richard’s case against the BBC reaches the High Court

23 April 2018 by

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law


Credit: The Guardian

In the News:

The legal battle between Sir Cliff Richard and the BBC has begun in the High Court.

In August 2014, police raided Sir Cliff’s home based on an allegation of historic child sexual abuse. The BBC broadcast live footage of the raid filmed from a helicopter. The singer was interviewed under caution, but never charged.

Sir Cliff alleges that the BBC’s coverage of the police raid on his home was a serious invasion of his right to privacy, for which there was no lawful justification. He also alleges breaches of his data protection rights. The singer seeks substantial general damages, plus £278,000 for legal costs, over £108,000 for PR fees which he spent in order to rebuild his reputation, and an undisclosed sum relating to the cancellation of his autobiography’s publication. He began giving evidence on the first day of the hearing.

The BBC said it was tipped off about the police investigation, and felt it had a duty to pass the information to the public. It also argues it reported Sir Cliff’s strong denials at every stage. The corporation maintains its coverage was accurate, concentrated on the facts of the police search and that it was selective in its reporting.

Police say they had to give the BBC details of the investigation, because a BBC journalist had come to them with knowledge of the story which he could have published before the raid. However, the force admits it acted unlawfully by confirming Sir Cliff’s identity to a BBC journalist, and by discussing the search warrant. South Yorkshire Police has previously been strongly criticised by MPs and has already paid Sir Cliff £400,000 to settle his claim. It argues the BBC should contribute towards these damages.

The trial is due to last 10 days, and senior BBC editors will give evidence to the court this week.

In Other News….

  • Facebook has been asking users in the EU and Canada to give their consent to the use of facial recognition technology. The change comes ahead of the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules, which come into force in May. However, Ireland’s data protection commissioner has not yet confirmed whether the move is compliant. Facebook will roll out the change worldwide over the coming few months. The BBC reports here.
  • It emerged that members of the so-called ‘Windrush generation’ have been threatened with deportation and denied access to the NHS. The term refers to those migrants who came to the UK after WW2, particularly from Caribbean countries, in response to labour shortages. Many of them travelled on their parents’ passports, meaning that their entry went unrecorded. In addition, it emerged that the Windrush generations’ landing cards were destroyed in 2010 (though the decision to do so was taken a year earlier). The PM has apologised to Caribbean Leaders and suggested compensation would be given where appropriate. The Independent reports here.

In the Courts:

  • In the matter of Alfie Evans No.2: The Supreme Court again refused permission to appeal to the parents of Alfie Evans, the seriously ill child (see our previous post on the Alfie Evans case). The Supreme Court emphasised that it is not a court of trial and can only hear cases where there is an arguable point of law. It held that there is no arguable point of law in this case. The “gold standard” adopted by the law is the best interests of the child, reflecting international standards. This means parents do not have the right to use the writ of habeas corpus to acquire the custody of their child if it is not in that child’s best interest. In addition, there was no claim under Article 5 of the ECHR (deprivation of liberty) because keeping Alfie in intensive care is in his best interests, and it is highly questionable whether this amounts to deprivation of liberty in any event.
  • DW (Jamaica) v Secretary of State for the Home Department: The Court of Appeal held the FTT (First-Tier Tribunal, Immigration and Asylum Chamber) and the UTT (Upper-Tier Tribunal) had erred. The matter concerned the respondent’s successful appeal to the FTT, where the Secretary of State’s refusal to grant settlement had been overruled given Article 8 of the ECHR. The Court of Appeal held that when the FTT concluded that deportation would be ‘unduly harsh’ in the light of its effect on the respondent’s children, it had failed to give appropriate weight to the public interest in his deportation. Furthermore, the UTT had erred in excluding the Secretary of State’s argument about the words ‘unduly harsh’. When granting permission to appeal, the FTT had correctly considered the matter to be one of the grounds. In addition, the Secretary of State’s draft grounds had also raised the issue. Appeal allowed.
  • SC & Ors v Secretary of State for Work And Pensions & Ors: A claim that limiting child tax credits to two children constituted a breach of the ECHR was rejected. The Equality and Human Rights Commission supported the claimants. There was no authority that Article 8 (right to privacy and family life) or Article 12 (the right to marry and found a family) is engaged by the absence of a social security benefit. The case of Okpisz is not to be taken as linking Article 14 (the non-discrimination provision) with Article 8, because it contains very little reasoning to suggest it should be given such a broad effect. If there was discrimination, it was justified and there was no breach.

On the UKHRB

  • Rosalind English reflects on the House of Lords Select Committee’s report on Artificial Intelligence.
  • Dominic Ruck Keene has posted about NT1 and NT2 v Google LLC, in which the issue of ‘the right to be forgotten’ was addressed.
  • Dr Ronan McCrea explains Vera Egenberger v Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung eV, in which the CJEU sought to reconcile the autonomy rights of religious organisations with the rights of employees of such organisations to be free of discrimination.
  • Eleanor Leydon has written a review of the Public Interest Environmental Law annual conference.



  • A book colloquium on Human Trafficking and Slavery Reconsidered: Conceptual Limits and States’ Positive Obligations in European Law will take place in Oxford on 3rd May. More information here.
  • Defamation Law and the Internet: Where Do We Go From Here?, will take place on the 3rd May by webcast. More information here.
  • Time for a Time Limit? Immigration Detention and Human Rights: The Human Rights Lawyers’ Association, 24th May at Bindmans LLP. More information here.


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  1. John McMurray says:

    I am no fan of Mr Richard however the rubbish the BBC staff are relating at the trial is an outrage. Of course what was alleged was/is of public interest. However a 2 minute report on the news would have covered it more than adequately. The waste of licence payers money on a helicopter etc is totally irresponsible. These hacks should be sacked
    Not in my name can this be described as public interest. I have no desire to see the inside of Mr Richards flat which actually looks quite naff

  2. Josephine Young says:

    Yes I say Cliff Richard is targeted and for deformation of his character BBC and the Police need to pay the highest compensation to Clifford Richard. Just Judges with no Racism,clean with no addiction with have a clean mind and clear mind to judge justly guided by his own conscience to stop liars and false witnesses all out to make money from spreading rumours and destroying good citizens like Cliff. Thank you for those brave enough to speak up for truth………..,,….

  3. Stella says:

    Tremendous, unforgivable injustice to Clifford Richard, hence, he needs to receive the highest level of compensation.
    I never did believe these allegations. Whenever there was an opportunity I always expressed my view.
    We have mass murderers eroding life on Mother Earth and no action is taken against them.
    We have Nuns who molested young boys, got pregnant by them – are these stories covered in the media?
    We have erosion of spirituality, through deceit, promotion of rosaries etc when sleeping congregation do not even know the name of the Creator who gives them Life and these are allowed to continue teaching Falsehoods.
    Yet Cliff Richard who has always upheld integrity was a target.
    Every word in this comment is for a purpose. Kindly investigate for Justice in the world.

  4. Jake Maverick says:

    good luck to him…..but what about all the little people they routinely do this to and don’t have the power to take any action….accept for physically trying to defend oneself and their property….?

    1. Stella says:

      Yes, you are absolutely correct this is why I have tried to highlight other areas in my comment hoping truth will surface at some stage. Peace!

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