Sir Cliff Richard is reportedly preparing to sue the BBC and the South Yorkshire Police over the house raid on his Berkshire home which the BBC broadcasted live.
Richard was said to be furious by the live broadcast of his Berkshire home and belongings during the raid. Should there be no charges filed against him, the singer vowed to sue the BBC for breach of privacy. He also threatened to sue South Yorkshire Police that allowed the broadcast to happen.
The raid took place in August without warning at the time Richard was holidaying at his villa in Portugal. It was in connection with the sexual abuse allegations a man in his 40s made. The man has claimed that Richard sexually assaulted him when he was just 14 year old during the singer’s 1985 performance at a Christian rally organized by the American evangelist Billy Graham.
Denying the allegations and dismissing them as completely false, Richard is yet to be arrested or charged over them.
The BBC’s live broadcast showed aerial pictures of the property taken from a helicopter and officers going through Richard’s belongings. A reporter even suggested that the corporation’s presence at the scene was due to police wanting to ensure maximum coverage.
As it turned out, the BBC reporter and South Yorkshire Police had been in regular contact with each other to discuss the raid’s details. When asked about why the BBC reporter was provided with too much information, South Yorkshire Police reasoned out that they believed the BBC might break the story before the raid could take place.
Richard’s lawyer Gideon Benaim has remarked that the broadcast was “premature and disproportionate” and caused his client “immeasurable harm.”
Last month, Home Affairs Select Committee acknowledged that it was right for BBC to run the story but also criticised its misleading reporting of the raid.
Calling the police’s treatment of the story utterly inept, Committee Chairman Keith Vaz MP said that Sir Cliff Richard is owed an apology for the enormous and irreparable damage to reputation he suffered.
A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said that they regret the additional anxiety their “within policy, well intended but ultimately flawed actions” have caused Sir Cliff Richard.