Insight Local Government Lawyer Insight December 2018 15 account that the public would likely not maintain that presumption: “The failure of the public to keep the presumption of innocence in mind at all times means that there is inevitably going to be stigma attached to the revelation, which is magnified in this case by the nature of the allegations against him, which were allegations (especially in the then climate) of extreme seriousness.”  Surprisingly the judge found that there was not a public interest in identifying people who have engaged in historic sex abuse. He downplayed the constitutional importance of this judgment, finding that press did not have a right to report the truth about the police investigation . Impact and lessons for local authorities The finding that a person under police investigation has a prima facie reasonable expectation of privacy, in that the investigation would not be made public, may have the most significant impact on press freedom. If this legal position is correct and applied to other cases, then it may prevent public interest journalism on police investigations because, in many cases, there would be conflict between the Article 8 and Article 10 rights and the court (or police officers and journalists who have to make frequent decisions on disclosure) may take a view that it should not be published because the alleged infringement of privacy rights is not justified. Local authorities should carefully consider whether or not to share information online or with the press if there is an ongoing criminal or civil case investigation. Although the Sir Cliff case concerns investigations and searches, the judgment could apply more generally to disclosures to the press concerning individuals who have a right for their information to be kept private. The presumption should be not to share it unless there is a strong public interest in doing so. Applying the judge’s approach, officers should consider the following steps in assessing whether or not to share the information and allow it to be published: 1. Does the individual expect that the investigation will be kept private? The rebuttable presumption is that the individual does have such an expectation. 2. If so, if it is published, would there be an infringement of his/her privacy rights (Article 8)? 3. Finally, balance the competing right of the press, freedom of expression (Article 8), with the privacy right of the individual. Decide whether it would be justified and proportionate to infringe the privacy right by weighing the following factors: a. Would the reporting of the investigation contribute to a debate of general interest? b. How well-known is the person concerned and what is the subject of the report? c. Prior conduct of the person concerned. Is the coverage of the event already in publication? d. Method of obtaining the information and its veracity. Do the methods adhere to ethical guidelines? e. Content, form and consequences of the publication. How severe would the consequences be for the individual? f. Severity of the sanction imposed. What would be the effect of the sanction of not reporting the investigation? Instead of appealing the judgment, the BBC have decided to ask the Attorney General for advice on the impact of the case on future reporting. Any further clarification on what police can share with journalists will be welcomed by practitioners across the country. Rosalee Dorfman Mohajer is a Third Six Pupil Barrister, 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square Chambers.