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Cliff Richard files lawsuit over BBC’s coverage of police raid of his home

By | Published on Friday 7 October 2016

Cliff Richard

Cliff Richard has filed his litigation against the BBC and South Yorkshire Police in relation to the former’s coverage of the latter’s investigation into claims of sexual abuse made against the singer. In particular the Corporation’s filming of police arriving at his Berkshire apartment in 2014.

As previously reported, that police search of Richard’s property became a particularly big news story because the BBC’s cameras were on site to film officers as they arrived. The coverage of the police raid was sufficiently controversial to be reviewed by the Home Affairs Select Committee in Parliament, though the Beeb has always insisted its coverage didn’t break any journalistic rules or breach Richard’s privacy rights.

The police investigation into allegations made against the star by four men did not lead to any charges. Last week the Crown Prosecution Service ruled that it was right to decide there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution after two of the accusers requested the original decision to that effect be reviewed.

Richard announced in July his intent to sue the BBC over its coverage of the police raid. He said at the time: “I confirm that I have instructed my lawyers to make formal legal complaints to South Yorkshire Police and the BBC so that in the absence of satisfactory answers a court will determine whether or not their behaviour was justified and proportionate”.

He added: “It is important not only for me personally but much more widely. My life was effectively turned upside down and my reputation, worldwide, was unnecessarily damaged. I would not want the same to happen to others whether in the public eye or not”.

Confirming that legal papers had now been filed, a spokesman for the singer said yesterday: “We can confirm that Sir Cliff today issued legal proceedings at the High Court against both SYP and the BBC. It would not be appropriate to comment further”.

Meanwhile the Daily Mail quotes a BBC spokesperson as saying: “While we haven’t received any notification of action, we’ve said previously we are very sorry that Sir Cliff has suffered distress but we have a duty to report on matters of public interest and we stand by our journalism”.

As also previously reported, in addition to the legal action, Richard also intends to lobby Parliament to support proposals that those accused of sexual assault should be provided with anonymity until any actual charges are pressed, because such accusations can be particularly damaging to a individual’s reputation.