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BBC may not appeal Sir Cliff ruling amid fears of 'public backlash' over mounting costs, Sunday Times reports

The BBC may not appeal a High Court judgement – which found it had breached Sir Cliff Richard’s privacy – amid concerns about mounting court costs, according to the Sunday Times.

The corporation has already agreed to pay more than £800,000 of the 77-year-old singer’s court costs on top of £210,000 in damages.

Trial judge Mr Justice Mann is set to rule on further costs relating to Sir Cliff’s financial losses as a result of a police investigation into a historical child sex assault allegation against him being broadcast by BBC News.

Sir Cliff was never charged and the case against him was later dropped.

The Sunday Times has claimed the BBC is “increasingly concerned that licence-fee payers will not tolerate more being spent on the case” and that it fears a “public backlash” if it pursues a costly appeal case.

But, the BBC considers the ruling to have resulted in a significant change to common journalistic practice, effectively granting anonymity to anyone under criminal investigation.

The BBC’s director of news Fran Unsworth said in a statement after the verdict, handed down on July 18, that it represented a “dramatic shift against press freedom” and effectively created new case law – although this has been downplayed by Mr Justice Mann and other legal experts.

Unsworth said: “This impacts not just the BBC, but every media organisation. This isn’t just about reporting on individuals. It means police investigations, and searches of people’s homes, could go unreported and unscrutinised.”

The BBC has been told it cannot pursue an appeal through the High Court, so must now turn to the Court of Appeal.

A number of media organisations, including press Gazette, have called for the BBC to go ahead with appealing the ruling.

The Sun has said the judgement represents a “profoundly dangerous and a ­devastating affront to press freedom”.

The Guardian has said: “The idea that the activities of the police could be placed off limits to reporters is anathema. It means placing them off limits to the public…”

Press Gazette has said: “If left to stand this ruling will not simply chill press freedom in the UK but create a new ice age, where massive police raids involving public figures must be conducted under a cloak of secrecy.”

Already both the Sun and Daily Mail – the UK’s two biggest-selling daily newspapers – have claimed law firm Carter-Ruck quoted the Sir Cliff ruling in legal letters attempting to prevent them from revealing the identity of a union official under an internal investigation.

A BBC spokesman said: “We are still considering our options”.

Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire

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4 thoughts on “BBC may not appeal Sir Cliff ruling amid fears of 'public backlash' over mounting costs, Sunday Times reports”

  1. The BBC after covering up for jimmy saville for 40 years wanted to be seen uncovering child abusers so they got in to a cosy relationship with the police and when they thought cliff Richard was one, they decided that they would broadcast live the raid on his house, Great news for them, its cliff Richard
    They used a helicopter to film it because it was in the public interest, rubbish! About 10 years ago a whale was seen in the river Thames, yes a whale, unbelievably but the BBC did not put a helicopter in the air for that was that not a massive story? I have lived in London all my life and a whale in the river Thames was big news
    The BBC wanted to get some reputation back and in doing so made even more mistakes and they like every other problem they have created for themselves, made their reputation slightly worse
    The list of BBC problems like, overblown salaries, not stop lecturing because they know what’s right and if you don’t agree you must be evil, covering up saville and rubbish programs has made the BBC now for most people I know, hated. Not worth the licence fee and a massive reason why so many people now turn off and use Netflix.
    A once proud British tv institution turned in my lifetime to mostly unwatchable rubbish

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