Artist News Legal Media

BBC chief defends coverage of Cliff Richard police raid as singer goes legal

By | Published on Wednesday 13 July 2016

Cliff Richard

BBC boss Tony Hall has stood by the Corporation’s coverage of the police raid on Cliff Richard’s home in 2014 after the singer announced he planned to sue the broadcaster and South Yorkshire Police.

As previously reported, Richard’s Berkshire home was searched by police in 2014 in relation to allegations that he sexually assaulted a boy under the age of sixteen at a Christian faith rally in 1985. The investigation into the claims was fully ended last month when the Crown Prosecution Service said that there was “insufficient evidence to prosecute”.

The police raid was particularly big news at the time because BBC cameras were on site to film officers as they arrived at the singer’s Berkshire home. That media coverage of the police investigation 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.

But in a statement on his website last weekend, Richard confirmed he intended to pursue legal action in relation to the filming of the raid. He wrote: “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 went on: “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”.

Responding, Hall called Richard “a fabulous entertainer who has done great things for the BBC over many years”, adding that “we said sorry for the distress he has been caused over the last couple of years”. But the BBC Director General insisted that his news division were still right to cover the police raid in the way that they did.

“If the police are investigating a matter which is of public interest and concern then we should report that” he said, “not just us but all our colleagues in the broadcast media and newspapers as wel