Ruling limits 'foot-in-door' reporting

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The Independent Online
A LANDMARK decision in the High Court - reached last week but so far unreported - has placed important restrictions on broadcasters' rights to invade privacy when conducting investigations, writes Michael Leapman.

Mr Justice MacPherson upheld a decision by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission that reporters on the BBC's Watchdog programme improperly infringed the privacy of David Lloyd, the managing director of a dating agency, by filming and repeatedly questioning him after he had refused a request for an interview. Although Mr Lloyd refused the interview, a BBC crew went to his house, and proceeded to film.

The case, which could put a damper on 'foot-in-the-door' interviewing techniques on television and radio, has been in the courts for nearly two years. The BBC will have to bear the costs.

After the programme was broadcast in 1990, Mr Lloyd complained to the commission, an official body charged with ruling on alleged infringements of the code of practice set out in the 1981 and 1990 Broadcasting Acts. His complaints relating to breach of privacy were upheld.