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Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

High Court ruling has serious implications for media freedom

Press release
Release date: 20 July 2018

The Chartered Institute of Journalists is gravely concerned about the implications for media freedom and reporting of criminal investigations following the High Court ruling in the privacy action by Sir Cliff Richard against the BBC.

Institute Vice-President, Professor Tim Crook says: “Whatever the rights and wrongs of the BBC coverage of Sir Cliff’s situation, the ruling appears to create a precedent that may hobble and disable legitimate and public interest coverage of police inquiries.”

He added: “Professional and responsible media news publishers must retain the discretion to be able to identify individuals who are subject to police investigation, suspicion, arrest and any accompanying searching of their home and work place.

“It is the only way there can be democratic accountability and proper scrutiny of policing policy and practice.”

The Institute is the world’s longest standing professional association of journalists.

Professor Crook believes it is very worrying that the continuing struggle between the right to privacy of powerful celebrity and perceived right to freedom of expression by media publishers has created serious ‘collateral damage’ for professional journalism.

Mr Justice Mann’s ruling is available at https://www.judiciary.uk/judgments/sir-cliff-richard-obe-v-bbc/ 

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