Clara Busso on a visit by City students to lecture by Tony Hall

The BBC will update its editorial guidelines after losing the case against Cliff Richard
By Clara Busso

Tony Hall, the Director General of BBC, said the corporation is to put freedom of expression at the heart of its new editorial guidelines just months after losing a £1m privacy lawsuit brought by Cliff Richard.

In the first annual Satchwell lecture at the Society of Editors, attended by students of the MA in financial journalism at City University of London, Lord Hall said that the growing amount of legislation protecting privacy is one of the main threats to freedom of the press. In response to these pressures, the BBC’s code of conduct will require its employees to “champion freedom of expression”.

Mr Richard’s successful lawsuit followed the corporation’s decision to broadcast a police raid on his home. “Whether you think there was a strong public interest in knowing that that particular personality was under police investigation is a legitimate matter of debate,” said Lord Hall, who went on criticise the use of a helicopter to report the raid.

Lord Hall said that the BBC decided not to appeal the case because losing would have given the verdict “the full force of precedent”. “Today we are found in a legal limbo,” he said. “We need the government and Parliament to clarify the law and tell the public clearly what they are and what they are not allowed to be told when there is a conflict between freedom of speech and individual privacy.”

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