The BBC will not appeal a court decision to award Sir Cliff Richard damages over their coverage of a police raid on his home. Instead, they will ask the government to ‘review the law’ on the media’s right to report similar cases.
Richard successfully sued the BBC and was awarded £210,000 ($267,000) in damages after they broadcast a police raid of his Berkshire home in August 2014.
Upon deciding not to appeal the decision, BBC lawyers warned that the case could create a “severe chilling effect” on press freedom.
A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC is already on record in saying that we are sorry for the distress that Sir Cliff has been through. We say so again today. We fully appreciate the impact this has had on him.
“There are lessons for the BBC in how we reported this story and we will think very carefully about our approach in the future – both in tone and style. We recognize there are things we got wrong – even if all the facts we reported were right.”
The corporation, lead by Director General Tony Hall, has decided to fight back outside the courts, writing a letter to the government requesting a review of the law and possible new legislation that would protect the media’s right to report on criminal investigations.
“Instead [of appealing], the BBC is writing today to ask the government to consider a review of the law in this important area to protect the right to properly and fairly report criminal investigations, and to name the person under investigation,” Hall stated, reported Sky News.
“There is a fundamental principle of press freedom at stake here and one upon which we believe parliament, as our lawmakers, should decide.”
Sir Cliff reported that the case had cost him £3.4 million ($4.3 million), with the singer reportedly in a state of limbo as the proceedings continued.
His spokesman said: “Sir Cliff reluctantly took his case to court because he felt his privacy had been flagrantly invaded and disappointingly the BBC were not prepared to acknowledge that and apologize.
“He welcomes the fact the BBC have decided not to seek permission to appeal from the Court of Appeal, particularly after the judge gave his judgement that they had no grounds on which to pursue such an action.”
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