Sir Cliff Richard: BBC disputes compensation claim

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Sir Cliff Richard says he suffered “profound and long-lasting” damage

The BBC has said it should not pay Sir Cliff Richard the damages he is seeking as a result of the coverage of a police raid on his home in 2014.

The singer is suing the BBC and South Yorkshire Police and is seeking “very substantial” compensation because he says the coverage invaded his privacy.

He was investigated over historical sexual assault allegations, which he denied. The case was dropped in June.

The BBC has apologised for his distress but is disputing the claim for damages.

Legal papers have been lodged at the High Court in London pending the start of any court hearings.

Gavin Millar QC, who is heading the BBC’s legal team, said: “It is denied that the claimant is entitled to damages or compensation as alleged at all.

“It is admitted that the claimant suffered distress.”

He added: “The BBC has already told the claimant it is very sorry that this was the case.”

‘Public interest’

In June, the Crown Prosecution Service announced it was taking no further action against Sir Cliff because there was insufficient evidence.

The star suffered “profound and long-lasting” damage from the live coverage of the search in Sunningdale, Berkshire, and from being publicly named as a suspected sex offender, his lawyers have said.

They also say South Yorkshire Police contravened guidance on “relationships with the media”.

South Yorkshire Police has apologised to the singer for the “distress and anxiety” it caused him.

On Wednesday, a BBC statement said: “As we have said on several occasions, we are very sorry that Sir Cliff Richard has suffered distress.

“However, we have now submitted our response to this claim and will defend ourselves vigorously.”

Reporting on police investigations into prominent figures was “squarely in the public interest”, the statement said.

The statement added that the corporation “stands by the decision to report the investigation undertaken by the South Yorkshire Police and the search of his property”.