On Wednesday 18 July, The High Court decided to award damages to Sir Cliff Richard over his privacy case against the BBC’s reporting of a police raid on his home in 2014, in a move that put UK press freedom in question.
Commenting on why the judgement was so controversial, Professor Barnett said: “In this country, we have rules about how you should cover someone who has been arrested or charged and that’s because we have rules about a fair trial which is one of the key pillars of democracy.”
According to Professor Barnett, this event cannot be a move that will put press freedom at risk: “We actually have a system in this country which protects press freedom and protects journalists. There are other countries in Europe which are way ahead of us in the press freedom index who have similar kinds of rules for ensuring that police investigations are not subject to this kind of automatic public scrutiny.”
He concluded: “I think it’ll actually make journalists just think a bit more carefully. I don’t think it will have a chilling effect but a more responsible thought about the ethics around this kind of revelations, which I think is no bad thing.”