Entertainment Celebrity Cliff Richard sues BBC over raid coverage

Cliff Richard sues BBC over raid coverage

Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard is suing the BBC over its coverage of a police raid following a sex assault allegation against him. Photo: Getty
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Sir Cliff Richard’s lawyers have told a High Court judge the singer should receive compensation at the “very top end of the scale” because BBC coverage of a police raid on his home caused him “great damage”.

The 77-year-old singer is suing the corporation over coverage of the raid – which followed a sex assault allegation.

Sir Cliff, who denied the allegation, was not charged with any offence and said he suffered “profound and long-lasting damage” as a result of coverage.

Justice Mann on Thursday began overseeing a trial, expected to last 10 days, at the High Court in London.

BBC editors have said they will “defend ourselves vigorously”.

A barrister leading Sir Cliff’s legal team said BBC coverage of the search at the singer’s apartment in August 2014 was a “very serious invasion” of privacy.

Justin Rushbrooke QC told how coverage had a “prolonged impact” on Sir Cliff.

He did not give any indication of the amount Sir Cliff wanted.

But Justice Mann heard that the singer had already agreed to accept a STG400,000 ($735,000) payment from the force which carried out the search.

Sir Cliff, who was abroad when the raid took place, had initially sued the BBC and South Yorkshire Police.

The judge was told in May 2017 how that dispute had been settled after the force agreed to pay the singer “substantial” damages. He has now been given the figure by lawyers representing the force at the trial.

“We think it is hard to imagine a case of publicity about a suspect in a police investigation which could have caused greater damage to the autonomy and dignity of the claimant,” Justice Rushbrooke said.

He added: “We say this is a claim for an award at the very top end of the scale”.

Lawyers have told how in late 2013, a man made an allegation to London’s Metropolitan Police, saying he had been sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff, during an event featuring evangelist Billy Graham at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane football stadium in Sheffield, when a child in 1985.

Metropolitan Police officers passed the allegation to South Yorkshire Police in July 2014. Sir Cliff denied the allegation and in June 2016 prosecutors announced that he would face no charges.

A BBC spokesman has said that the BBC had reported Sir Cliff’s “full denial of the allegations at every stage”.