Cliff Richard: BBC 'smeared' his reputation


The 77-year-old entertainer is suing the national broadcaster over coverage of a police search at his home in August 2014, which took place after a sexual assault allegation. Richard denied the allegation and he has never faced charges.

A barrister representing Richard told the court that the coverage — which included shots taken from a helicopter while the search was ongoing — was a “very serious invasion” of privacy, the PA reported.

Lawyers representing the BBC have said the raid was of “legitimate public interest” and that the broadcaster had a duty to pass information about the investigation on to the public.

While giving his witness statement, Richard seemed on the verge of tears as he listed a number of countries where he says his reputation was damaged, the PA said.

“Everywhere I have ever been, I felt my name was smeared,” he said. “The police didn’t do that, the BBC did.”

The journalists involved “felt they were above the law,” Richard added, holding his face in his hands, according to the PA.

Richard — born Harry Rodger Webb — has sold more than 250 million records in a career that began in the 1950s. His first No. 1 hit in the United Kingdom was in 1959 with “Living Doll.” He was knighted in 1995.

Richard: I was hung out like ‘live bait’

Earlier in the day, Richard spoke about the “impact” of the coverage, according to the PA. “It was shocking and upsetting,” he said. “My health suffered, both mentally and physically.”

Richard explained how he had not wanted to return to his apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, after the raid, the PA reported. “I never went back to pick up my belongings,” he said. “In my mind it had become contaminated.”

South Yorkshire police searched Richard’s home as part of an investigation into an allegation made to London’s Metropolitan Police in late 2013.

The BBC was present before the raid, drawing criticism that police had tipped off journalists.

Report finds BBC allowed sexual offenders to operate with impunity

“I was named before I was even interviewed and for me that was like being hung out like ‘live bait,'” Richard said in a statement on his website, posted shortly after Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service announced in June 2016 that the singer would not face charges.

The allegation against Richard and the raid on his home came in the midst of an ongoing sex abuse scandal over Jimmy Savile, a BBC personality who worked for the broadcaster for three decades and whose crimes — including the sexual abuse of hundreds of people, including children — were not exposed until after his 2011 death.

A damning report released two years ago found that Savile and Stuart Hall — a former BBC television host and sports commentator — were allowed to operate with impunity within the BBC, which missed five opportunities to stop their misconduct.



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