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Cliff Richard wins €235,000 court case against the BBC

The action was taken over the BBC’s decision to broadcast a police raid on Richard’s home in 2014.

Cliff Richard arrives at the Rolls Building in London to hear the ruling of the dispute that he has with the BBC.
Cliff Richard arrives at the Rolls Building in London to hear the ruling of the dispute that he has with the BBC.
Image: Victoria Jones via PA Images

POP STAR CLIFF Richard has won his case taken against the BBC over its decision to broadcast a police raid on his home live on TV.

The UK High Court awarded him £210,000 (€235,000) damages to be paid by both the BBC and the South Yorkshire Police – you can read the full judgement here.

Richard, 75, took legal action against the BBC over coverage of a South Yorkshire Police raid on his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014, following a child sex assault allegation.

The singer said previously that he was taking legal action after his reputation was “unnecessarily damaged”.

Today outside the court, Richard said:

I can’t really answer too many questions at the moment, it’s going to take a little while for me to get over the whole emotional factor and so I hope you’ll forgive me. I’ll talk to you some other time. Thank you very much.

The BBC has released a statement reacting to the verdict, saying that “on reflection there are things we would have done differently”, but said that it was also looking at an appeal.

It added: “However, the judge has ruled that the very naming of Sir Cliff was unlawful.

So even had the BBC not used helicopter shots or ran the story with less prominence, the judge would still have found that the story was unlawful; despite ruling what what we broadcast about the search was accurate.
This isn’t just about reporting on individuals. It means police investigations, and searches of people’s homes, could go unreported and unscrutinised. It will make it harder to scrutinise the conduct of the police and we fear it will undermine the winder principle of the public’s right to know. It will put decision making in the hands of the police.

In this morning’s judgement, handed down by Mr Justice Mann, it said that Richard “had privacy rights in respect of the police investigation and that the BBC infringed those rights without a legal justification” and that it did so “in a serious way and also in a somewhat sensationalist way”.

I have rejected the BBC’s case that it was justified in reporting as it did under its rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. I did not find it necessary to rule on the claim under the Data Protection Act. Sir Cliff therefore wins on the privacy point and has established liability.

The judge awarded basic general damages of £190,000, and an added £20,000 for nominating the live broadcast as in the Royal Television Society Awards.

The BBC’s nominated its story for an award at the Royal Television Society Awards as the ‘Scoop of the Year’ (which, incidentally, it did not win). I have found that that merits aggravated damages which I have assessed at £20,000.

In relation to the costs, the judgement says that the BBC said the costs should be split 80/20, with the majority paid by the South Yorkshire Police, while the police argued the costs should be paid in total by the BBC.

The judge rejected both of these suggestions:

“I have rejected both parties’ extreme cases but nonetheless decided that the BBC was much more responsible than SYP, and have determined that the damages for which both parties are responsible (which does not include the aggravated damages) ought to be borne 35%/65% as between SYP and the BBC respectively, principally on the footing that the BBC was a significantly greater contributor to the damage that was caused.”

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