Stokes story shows BBC needs to train presenters in privacy law

Ben Stokes looking for privacy in the Ashes: by Ben Sutherland: cc



The Ben Stokes “news story” has revealed a gross lack of understanding of the privacy laws by the BBC Radio 4 presenter of the afternoon news program PM, Evan Davis.  Her should really know better given the rising importance of this law.

The BBC decided not to give the details splashed over the front page of The Sun that day. It only said there was a “secret family history” before Stokes was born in New Zealand.

Not another Richard

Clearly the BBC did not want to be embroiled in another privacy case after it lost so heavily against privacy action by Sir Cliff Richard.

Available online

Those of us who do not read The Sun had, therefore, to go online to find what it was all about. With a few clicks we found it. And I am not going to repeat it because it has no relevance to anything going on today. This is despite it being a “matter of public record”, as The Sun says in its defence of publication.

A no-no: Talking about yourself and revealing the private lives of others

Here’s the most important issue: neither Davis nor his guest Paul Connew, ex editor of the Sunday Mirror, knew their privacy law. They huffed and puffed saying nobody knew if you can reveal your life and so reveal the life of others. They clearly did not know you should not talk about your private life if it reveals the private life of others.

Right to freedom of expression should be curtailed

It’s quite clear from the case of McKennit v Ash and others. Ash revealed details of her life with McKennit but without McKennit’s permission. The High Court said: “If a person wishes to reveal details of their private life which also reveals details of another’s private life, their right to freedom of expression should be curtailed.” Is that clear enough Davis and Connew?

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