BBC Cliff Richard raid coverage was 'invasion of privacy'

Sir Cliff Richard arriving at High Court on 12 April 2018

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Lawyers for Sir Cliff Richard have told the High Court the BBC’s coverage of a police raid on the singer’s home was a “very serious invasion” of his privacy.

The BBC is being sued over its footage showing officers searching the star’s Berkshire apartment in 2014 after a claim of historical sexual assault.

Sir Cliff, 77, was not charged with any offence and says he suffered “profound and long-lasting damage”.

The BBC argues its coverage was in the public interest.

It denies Sir Cliff had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to the material broadcast.

In a written statement, Sir Cliff’s barrister, Justin Rushbrooke QC, said the BBC had used TV cameras to “spy into someone’s home” as South Yorkshire Police carried out their raid.

He said: “It is hard to encapsulate in words the sense of panic and powerlessness that must have been induced in him on 14 August 2014 when he realised that the BBC were relaying instantaneously and indiscriminately around the world highly sensitive and damaging information concerning himself – all based upon an allegation of serious criminal conduct which he knew to be entirely false.”

‘Desperate for scoop’

Sir Cliff is taking action against the BBC for misuse of private information and breaking data protection rules.

Mr Rushbrooke said a BBC journalist had received a “tip-off” about the police raid from a Metropolitan Police source in Operation Yewtree, the investigation into allegations of historical sex offences.

“This was a case of a journalist making use of information that must have been leaked improperly, indeed unlawfully, by someone within a highly sensitive police investigation,” he said.

He added police “made clear” that Sir Cliff was not going to be named in a public statement, but the BBC took the decision to name him and film the raid.

He said the BBC news team were “desperate to be the first media organisation to break their story, and this desire not to be scooped was the predominant concern”.

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