Prime Minister’s Questions: 18th July 2018

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
I am sure the whole House will join me in congratulating Sir Cliff Richard on his successful action against the BBC, which behaved atrociously in its illegal invasion of his privacy. Will my right hon. Friend look again at changing the law so that a suspect is not named by the media, except in exceptional cases, until such time as they are charged? I know I am off her Christmas card list, but I have tabled a private Member’s Bill that commands cross-party and, I think, widespread support—I am more than happy to call it Cliff’s law. Will the Prime Minister please agree at least to look at the Bill, because Sir Cliff is not alone and this is not confined to sexual offences? Suspects should not be named by the media until such time as they are charged.

The Prime Minister
Obviously, my right hon. Friend has raised a very important issue. She has raised it in the specific case of Sir Cliff Richard, but, as she said, this does not just relate to somebody who is well known and in the public eye. This is a difficult issue, it has to be dealt with sensitively and I looked at it when I was Home Secretary. There may well be cases where the publication of a name enables other victims to come forward and therefore to strengthen the case against an individual. So this is not somewhere where we either do all of one or all of another; it is an issue for careful judgment. But in exercising that careful judgment, the police have to recognise their responsibilities and the media need to recognise their responsibilities as well.