Cliff Richard £1.2m legal claim shows how police gave 'running commentary' to BBC of raid on his home - Press Gazette

Cliff Richard £1.2m legal claim shows how police gave 'running commentary' to BBC of raid on his home

Sir Cliff Richard has claimed police gave the BBC a “running commentary” of the highly publicised raid on his home, in legal papers outlining his £1.2 million court battle.

The star alleges a deal was struck between South Yorkshire Police and the broadcaster, in a writ lodged at the High Court.

Aggravated damages are being claimed against the force and the corporation by the 76-year-old singer, as well as a “significant” portion of his legal costs.

His claims are in part based on a text exchange between a press officer and a BBC reporter, which allegedly tipped the latter off to the impending swoop.

A sexual abuse investigation into Sir Cliff, based on allegations from four men between 1958 and 1983, was dropped by prosecutors earlier this year due to lack of evidence. The singer always denied the claims.

The court papers, first revealed by The Sun, allegedly show that press officer Lesley Card alerted BBC crime correspondent Dan Johnson to the raid on the property in Sunningdale, Berkshire.

Ms Card reportedly wrote in a text message: “Going in now, Dan.”

Later the reporter is said to have replied: “Give me a shout before they take anything out, so we can get the chopper in place for a shot.”

Prior to this, Mr Johnson arranged a meeting at South Yorkshire Police headquarters where he told the officer in charge of the case he “knew everything”, effectively “strong-arming” them into giving the BBC access, the legal papers are said to claim.

In the lawsuit, filed at the High Court on October 6, Sir Cliff reportedly says he was left feeling “publicly violated” by the alleged deal between the broadcaster and the police.

BBC director-general Tony Hall previously defended the live coverage of the operation, adding that the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee “reviewed our decisions and said we see nothing wrong in the BBC decision to run the story”.

A spokesman for the corporation said: “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.”

The 26-page document is said to show Sir Cliff has spent more than £1 million on his lawsuit, and wants a “significant portion” of his legal costs paid and at least £200,000 in “aggravated damages”.




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