Cliff Richard: BBC raid report 'shocking and upsetting'

Sir Cliff Richard arriving at the High Court on 13 April 2018 with Gloria Hunniford

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Sir Cliff Richard arrived at the High Court with broadcaster Gloria Hunniford

Sir Cliff Richard has said watching a BBC report of a police raid of his home in 2014 was “shocking and upsetting”.

The singer – giving evidence in a High Court privacy case against the BBC – said in a witness statement his health suffered “mentally and physically”.

South Yorkshire Police searched the Berkshire apartment after a claim of historical sexual assault.

Sir Cliff was not charged with any offence. The BBC says its coverage was in the public interest.

Lawyers for the 77-year-old say the coverage – including shots taken from a helicopter showing officers searching his property – caused him “profound and long-lasting damage”.

‘Forever tainted’

Giving evidence, Sir Cliff recalled watching the BBC footage from hotel in Portugal.

He said: “It wasn’t a very pleasant feeling and by that time I had heard of the allegation and seeing it made me feel even worse.”

In his written statement, he said: “My health suffered, both mentally and physically…

“At one point … I actually thought I was going to have a heart attack or stroke.”

He added: “I felt as though everything I had worked for during my life – trying to live as honestly and honourably as I could – was being torn apart.

“I felt forever tainted. I still do.”

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

His lawyers say he is seeking “very substantial” damages or compensation for the breach of his rights.

‘Heavy-handed’ tactics

The court has heard BBC journalist Dan Johnson had received a tip-off about the investigation from a Metropolitan Police source working in Operation Yewtree, the probe into allegations of historical sex offences.

The Met Police later passed the allegation, a claim of a sexual offence against a boy under the age of 16, to South Yorkshire Police.

Jason Beer QC, for South Yorkshire Police, which has paid the singer £400,000 to settle a privacy claim, told the court the BBC broadcast caused the most “damage”.

He accused Mr Johnson of using “heavy-handed” tactics when dealing with South Yorkshire Police ahead of the raid.

Lawyers representing the BBC have said the police raid in August 2014 was of “legitimate public interest”.

They said the BBC had been given information about an investigation into a serious criminal offence and had a duty to pass on the information to the public.

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