UPDATE 4pm: Sir Cliff Richard and the BBC have agreed to pause a High Court fight in the hope that a settlement can be reached.
Lawyers representing all sides told a judge on Friday that parties had agreed to a one-month ceasefire so negotiations could take place.
- December 7, 2021
- November 25, 2021
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Sir Cliff Richard has said the BBC broadcast reports naming him as a suspected sex offender after information was “improperly” disclosed to a journalist.
The singer, who has sued the BBC and complained that his human right to respect for private life was infringed, said reporter Dan Johnson “knew full well” that information acquired from a police source had been “covertly” disclosed.
The singer wants to know more about how the BBC learned he was being investigated as a result of a sex assault allegation.
And he wants BBC editors to tell him whether the source of information was someone working on a wider Metropolitan Police inquiry into sex abuse allegations, an investigation codenamed Operation Yewtree.
BBC editors say journalists have to protect sources.
Detail of Sir Cliff’s complaints has emerged at the latest in a series of preliminary High Court hearings.
A judge is analysing pre-trial issues at a hearing in London.
Lawyers representing Sir Cliff have outlined specific claims in written submissions given to Mr Justice Mann.
The singer has taken legal action against the BBC, and South Yorkshire Police, over coverage of a raid at his apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014.
His lawyers say he suffered ”profound and long-lasting” harm and should get damages.
BBC editors have said they will ”defend ourselves vigorously”.
A spokeswoman said the BBC had reported Sir Cliff’s ”full denial of the allegations at every stage”.
South Yorkshire Police have apologised ”wholeheartedly for the additional anxiety caused” by the force’s ”initial handling of the media interest” in its investigation into the singer.
Lawyers say in late 2013 a man made an allegation to the Metropolitan Police, saying he had been sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane football stadium when a child in 1985.
Metropolitan Police officers passed the allegation to South Yorkshire Police in July 2014.
Sir Cliff denied the allegation ”as soon as it was brought to his attention”, and in June 2016 prosecutors announced that he would face no charges.
“The information disclosed by the BBC was private,” Justin Rushbrooke QC, who is leading Sir Cliff’s legal team, told the judge in a written submission.
“The BBC did not have reasonable grounds to believe, and cannot have reasonably believed, that it was in the public interest to name him as under investigation.”
Rushbrooke said Sir Cliff believed that information came from a source connected to a Metropolitan Police inquiry into sex abuse allegations – an investigation codenamed Operation Yewtree.
He added: “(Dan) Johnson knew full well that the information he had acquired from a source within Operation Yewtree had been disclosed to him covertly and improperly.”
The hearing continues.