'It did so in a serious way and also in a somewhat sensationalist way. I have rejected the BBC's case that it was justified in reporting as it did under its rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.'
The judge awarded Sir Cliff £210,000 damages for the 'general effect' on his life and said the star is entitled to recover further sums for the financial impact upon him, which will be decided at a later date.
The judge said £20,000 of the damages were due to the BBC aggravating the case by nominating the story for a 'Scoop of the Year' award at the Royal Television Society Awards.
Sir Cliff, who sued both the BBC and South Yorkshire Police (SYP), claimed the BBC’s reporting of the 2014 raid was a ’serious invasion’ of privacy. He was never arrested or charged over the alleged offences.
Sir Cliff sued SYP for breach of privacy and under the Data Protection Act 1998 after the police disclosed that he was under investigation and the date, time and place of an intended search of his home. Before the trial SYP had already admitted liability and agreed to pay £400,000 in damages plus costs. Sir Cliff sued the BBC on the same grounds for publicly disclosing the facts and covering the search in various broadcasts.
The case revolved around subsequent dealings between the BBC and SYP. The BBC claimed the police volunteered the information whereas Sir Cliff claimed SYP was ‘manoeuvred into providing it’ from the fear and implicit threat that the BBC would or might publish news of the investigation before the police were ready to conduct their search.
Fran Unsworth, the BBC’s director of news and current affairs, confirmed it was considering an appeal.
’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,’ Unsworth said.
The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into force on 25th May 2018 which will further tighten the rules regarding privacy and therefore we can expect more claims of this nature in the future.