Vancouver Sun

Cliff Richard wins privacy case

Singer battled BBC over coverage of a police raid


LONDON A British high court has awarded singer Cliff Richard about $275,000 in damages Wednesday after he won a privacy lawsuit against the BBC for its coverage of a police raid at his home.

Richard had sued the broadcaste­r for its coverage of the 2014 raid, when police were investigat­ing alleged sex offences. The coverage included a helicopter that circled the star’s home as authoritie­s conducted a search.

The 77-year-old singer was never arrested or charged with any crime. Police don’t normally identify people suspected of crimes in Britain until they are charged. His lawsuit claims he suffered “profound” damage to his reputation.

The BBC disputed his claims and editors said the coverage was done in good faith.

BBC’s director of news Fran Unsworth said the story was accurate, and that the decision will affect every news media organizati­on in Britain. The broadcaste­r will consider an appeal.

“It will make it harder to scrutinize the conduct of the police and we fear it will undermine the wider principle of the public’s right to know. It will put decisionma­king in the hands of the police,” she said. “We don’t believe this is compatible with liberty and press freedoms, something that has been at the heart of this country for generation­s.”

Lawyer Emma Woollcott with the firm Mishcon de Reya said the judgment “vindicates” Richard’s view that the BBC’s reporting was intrusive. She said the judge acknowledg­ed there was legitimate public interest in reporting investigat­ions of historic sex abuse but that the BBC’s reporting was excessive.

“No doubt we will now see further claims from high-profile individual­s who have suffered intensive media coverage and public scrutiny,” she said.

Richard shot to fame in Britain after Elvis Presley had his first hits and before The Beatles burst on the scene. He has been a remarkably durable entertaine­r whose record sales have made him one of Britain’s most successful solo acts.

Richard received a knighthood in 1995 for his charitable works. He is planning a fall tour of Britain, Ireland and Denmark to mark his 60th year in the music business.

Richard appeared outside the London courthouse, but was too emotional to speak, saying it was “going to take a little while” before he was prepared to fully comment. Fans who had gathered to support him sang a refrain of his hit song “Congratula­tions” as he left with his legal team.

Richard has said he experience­d a “sense of panic and powerlessn­ess” when he saw the BBC was broadcasti­ng from a helicopter above his home.

 ?? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Singer Cliff Richard arrives to hear the ruling of his case against the BBC.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Singer Cliff Richard arrives to hear the ruling of his case against the BBC.

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