Entertainment & Arts

Sir Cliff Richard: BBC pays £2m in final settlement after privacy case

Sir Cliff Richard Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Sir Cliff said news coverage of a police raid on his house was "devastating"

Sir Cliff Richard will receive around £2m towards his legal costs from the BBC after agreeing a final settlement following last year's privacy case.

In July 2018, the star won a High Court case against the broadcaster over its coverage of a police raid on his home.

The BBC was ordered to pay £210,000 in damages, and later agreed to pay £850,000 to cover legal costs. That figure has now increased.

However, the singer said he was still "substantially out of pocket".

During the trial, the 78-year-old singer said he had spent more than £3m to clear his name.

In a statement, the star's spokesman said: "Sir Cliff incurred these costs over a five-year period as a direct result of the actions of the BBC and South Yorkshire Police.

"He is of course glad that an agreement about costs has now been reached. Ultimately, however, Sir Cliff is substantially out of pocket (a seven figure sum), not least because there are costs that he has not sought to recover from the parties."

The BBC, which also paid £315,000 to South Yorkshire Police for legal costs, said it was "pleased" to have reached "an amicable settlement".

"The BBC's costs are within the scope of our legal insurance," added a corporation spokesman.

Sir Cliff took the BBC to court after the broadcaster filmed a police raid on his home in Berkshire in 2014. The footage, which included aerial shots taken from a helicopter, was shown on news bulletins throughout the day.

Officers were investigating an allegation made by a man who claimed he was sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff in 1985. But the singer was never arrested or charged and the case was dropped two years later.

'Very intrusive'

The BBC apologised for the "distress" caused to Sir Cliff, but said the privacy ruling could hinder press freedom.

The star was at his second home in Portugal when he learned of the raid. "It was very intrusive," he later told ITV's Jonathan Ross show.

"It's hard to explain to people what it feels like. I only went back to that apartment once, to collect my clothes. It was worse than being burgled."

A judge later concluded Sir Cliff had a right to privacy while a suspect in the investigation, trumping the broadcaster's right to freedom of expression to publish his name and cover the raid.

Afterwards, he said the allegations and subsequent media coverage were the "worst thing that has happened to me in my entire life".

"What the BBC did was an abuse," he said, adding that senior executives at the corporation deserved to lose their jobs. "They took it upon themselves to be judge, jury and executioner."

Sir Cliff has subsequently joined other public figures in calling for the law to protect the anonymity of people suspected of sexual offences until they are actually charged with a crime.

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