Richard v The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Another: ChD 18 Jul 2018

Police suspect has outweighable Art 8 rights

Police (the second defendant) had searched the claimant’s home in his absence in the course of investigating allegations of historic sexual assault. The raid was filmed and broadcast widely by the first defendant. No charges were brought against the claimant. He now claimed damages for breach of his privacy rights.
Held: The claims succeeded. The court generally preferred as an explanation of how SYP had come to disclose the material they did disclose to the BBC, that given by the SYP. The question, whether the existence of a police investigation gave rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, had not been clearly and authoritatively answered, but the starting point was that a suspect had a legitimate expectation of privacy. That might be displaced on particular occasions according to the facts. It was not displaced merely by the involvement of the media. A balance had to be found between the suspects article 8 rights and the article 10 rights of the media. In this case the defendant’s article 10 rights were not sufficient to take the balance into their favour.
Mann J said: ‘whether or not there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in a police investigation is a fact-sensitive question and is not capable of a universal answer one way or the other. ‘
Mann J continued: ‘It seems to me that on the authorities, and as a matter of general principle, a suspect has a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to a police investigation, and I so rule. As a general rule it is understandable and justifiable (and reasonable) that a suspect would not wish others to know of the investigation because of the stigma attached. It is, as a general rule, not necessary for anyone outside the investigating force to know, and the consequences of wider knowledge have been made apparent in many cases: see above. If the presumption of innocence were perfectly understood and given effect to, and if the general public were universally capable of adopting a completely open and broad-minded view of the fact of an investigation so that there was no risk of taint either during the investigation or afterwards (assuming no charge) then the position might be different. But neither of those things is true. The fact of an investigation, as a general rule, will of itself carry some stigma, no matter how often one says it should not.’

Mann J
[2018] EWHC 1837 (Ch), [2018] WLR(D) 457, [2018] 3 WLR 1715, [2018] EMLR 26, [2019] Ch 169, [2019] 2 All ER 105, [2018] HRLR 16
Bailii, WLRD
European Convention on Human Rights 8 10
England and Wales
CitedAsh and Another v McKennitt and others CA 14-Dec-2006
The claimant was a celebrated Canadian folk musician. The defendant, a former friend, published a story of their close friendship. The claimant said the relationship had been private, and publication infringed her privacy rights, and she obtained an . .
CitedMurray v Big Pictures (UK) Ltd; Murray v Express Newspapers CA 7-May-2008
The claimant, a famous writer, complained on behalf of her infant son that he had been photographed in a public street with her, and that the photograph had later been published in a national newspaper. She appealed an order striking out her claim . .
CitedHannon and Another v News Group Newspapers Ltd and Another ChD 16-May-2014
The claimants alleged infringement of their privacy, saying that the defendant newspaper had purchased private information from police officers emplyed by the second defendant, and published them. The defendants now applied for the claims to be . .
CitedPNM v Times Newspapers Ltd and Others CA 1-Aug-2014
The claimant sought a privacy order after being accused of historical serious sexual offences against children.
Held: The judge had properly acted within the range of his discretion, and the appeal was dismissed. The judgment would however . .
CitedJR38, Re Application for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) SC 1-Jul-2015
The appellant was now 18 years old. In July 2010 two newspapers published an image of him. He was at that time barely 14 years old. These photographs had been published by the newspapers at the request of the police. The publication of the . .
CitedZXC v Bloomberg Lp QBD 23-Feb-2017
Investigation of claimant was properly disclosed
The claimant requested the removal of material naming him from the defendant’s website. Criminal investigations into a company with which he was associated were begun, but then concluded. In the interim, the article was published. The hearing had . .
CitedAxel Springer Ag v Germany ECHR 7-Feb-2012
ECHR Grand Chamber – A German newspaper had published a story or stories about the arrest and conviction of a well-known TV actor, together with photographs, and various restraining-type orders had been issued by . .
CitedRocknroll v News Group Newspapers Ltd ChD 17-Jan-2013
The claimant sought an order to restrain the defendant from publishing embarrassing photographs taken at a private party. He had taken an assignment of the copyright from the photographer.
Held: The court considered whether the extent to which . .
CitedPNM v Times Newspapers Ltd and Others SC 19-Jul-2017
No anonymity for investigation suspect
The claimant had been investigated on an allegation of historic sexual abuse. He had never been charged, but the investigation had continued with others being convicted in a high profile case. He appealed from refusal of orders restricting . .

Cited by:
CitedZXC v Bloomberg Lp CA 15-May-2020
Privacy Expecation during police investigations
Appeal from a judgment finding that the Defendant had breached the Claimant’s privacy rights. He made an award of damages for the infraction of those rights and granted an injunction restraining Bloomberg from publishing information which further . .
CitedCXZ v ZXC QBD 26-Jun-2020
Malicious Prosecution needs court involvement
W had made false allegations against her husband of child sex abuse to police. He sued in malicious prosecution. She applied to strike out, and he replied saying that as a developing area of law a strike out was inappropriate.
Held: The claim . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Information, Media, Human Rights, Police

Updated: 10 November 2021; Ref: scu.619900