Cliff Richard case: Singer seeks £600,000 over BBC report


Sir Cliff Richard.

Sir Cliff Richard is seeking more than £600,000 in damages from the BBC over the broadcast of a police search of his home in 2014, the High Court has heard.

Sir Cliff is suing the BBC over the misuse of private information and breaking data protection rules.

Footage of a search of his flat in Sunningdale, Berkshire, was broadcast as part of a report on South Yorkshire Police’s sexual assault inquiry into the singer.

Sir Cliff was not arrested or charged.

The 77-year-old singer says broadcasting the images of the search of his home was a “very serious invasion” of privacy.

The BBC says the story was in the public interest.

Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing Sir Cliff, said damages should be awarded “at the very top end of the scale”.

‘Double-barrelled intrusion’

Mr Justice Mann has finished analysing evidence at the High Court trial in London and is now considering the closing legal arguments.

He was told Sir Cliff is seeking damages from the BBC of between £175,000 and £250,000 for general and aggravated damages.

Sir Cliff is also claiming special damages of nearly £400,000 for legal and PR fees and an undisclosed amount for a cancelled book deal.

This does not include any legal costs for bringing the case, which the singer has said has cost him £3m.

In a written closing submission, Mr Rushbrooke said that Sir Cliff might have suffered permanent damage to his self-esteem as a result of the BBC coverage.

He said the BBC’s broadcast had been a “double-barrelled” intrusion – on one hand the helicopter footage and on the other the rolling news aspect, which he called “excessive”.

But barrister Gavin Millar QC, for the BBC, told the judge that broadcasters had a “strong journalistic right” to report as they did.

“The BBC’s reporting was confined to the most basic facts, visual images, concerning the investigation and the search,” he said.

“There was nothing in the reporting that was inconsistent with the presumption of innocence.”

South Yorkshire Police has settled its own case with Sir Cliff by paying him £400,000 and argues that the BBC should pay a share of this because its actions were “far more causative of the damage suffered”.