In response to David Keighley: It’s not press freedom at stake over Sir Cliff, it’s the rights of an innocent man, SimonToo wrote:
If this judgment were to set an undesirable precedent for press freedom, the fault lies entirely with the BBC for losing sight of the realities of the case and, in its blind self-righteousness, insisting on pursuing the case to a final decision. If they could have seen themselves as others saw them, they must surely have seen that they were not going to win against Sir Cliff – quite in what terms they would lose might be a different matter, but lose they would – and they should have settled, early and with good grace. Even if they were incapable of appreciating their own fault, they should have done so to ensure that they did not give rise to a decided case that would constrain their perceived freedoms.
Hard cases make bad law. At the very least, the BBC should have been aware that this was a hard case – it was unlikely that they would win, even though the legalistic reasoning for their losing might shift under them – and there was a risk of bad law (at least in their own terms) being decided. Settle with good grace and there could not be any binding legal precedent.
One has more sympathy with the Inland Revenue charging into the valley of Ken Dodd than one does with the BBC obdurately battling Sir Cliff.