Cliff Richard to sue BBC, police over raid

LONDON • Veteran British singer Cliff Richard confirmed on Sunday that he would sue the BBC and the police after a raid on his home was broadcast live on television in August 2014.

Richard, 75, was told last month that he would face no charges over allegations of sexual abuse dating back decades, following an investigation that took two years, due to lack of evidence.

The South Yorkshire Police were severely criticised by lawmakers over its handling of the case after it struck a deal with the BBC to air the police raid on Richard's home.

"My life was effectively turned upside down and my reputation worldwide was unnecessarily damaged. I would not want the same to happen to others, whether in the public eye or not," Richard said in a statement.

"I firmly believe that privacy should be respected and that police guidelines are there to be followed.

"That means that, save in exceptional circumstances, people should never be named unless and until they are charged. As everybody has accepted, there were no such 'exceptional circumstances' in my case."

After the BBC got wind of the investigation, the South Yorkshire Police cut a deal with the broadcaster in a bid to delay it from breaking the story.

The BBC was tipped off about the raid on Richard's home and was outside, in advance, to film detectives sweeping in, broadcasting the search live from a helicopter.

"I confirm that I have instructed my lawyers to make formal legal complaints to the South Yorkshire Police and the BBC so that in the absence of satisfactory answers, a court will determine whether their behaviour was justified and proportionate," Richard said on his website.

The Mail on Sunday said he was seeking more than £1 million (S$1.7 million) in damages.

Last month, the BBC said it was very sorry that Richard had suffered distress, but stood by its decision to report on the police investigation and the search of his house.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE- PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2016, with the headline 'Cliff Richard to sue BBC, police over raid'. Print Edition | Subscribe