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Cliff Richard: Police gave BBC 'running commentary' on raid

ShowbizBy Sunday World
Cliff Richard: Police gave BBC 'running commentary' on raid

Sir Cliff Richard claims the police gave the BBC a "running commentary" on the raid on his home after he was accused of historic sex offences.

The 76-year-old singer's house in Sunningdale, Berkshire, south east England, was visited by police in 2014 following separate sex abuse allegations by four men, dated between 1958 and 1983, but he was never arrested or charged and now insists the broadcasted raid left him feeling "publicly violated".

In court documents lodged at London's High Court on October 6 and obtained by The Sun newspaper, Cliff claims the BBC struck a deal with South Yorkshire Police to air the visit.

The papers allege a police press officer alerted the corporation's crime correspondent when police were at his home, saying: "Going in now, Dan."

The correspondent then replied: "Give me a shout before they take anything out, so we can get the chopper in place for a shot," and later added: "Cheers - take it he's not home?"

Cliff was subjected to a 22-month long investigation following the allegations.

He is claiming at least £200,000 in "aggravated damages", wants "a significant proportion" of his legal costs, and he is keen for both parties to fork out for a £132,000 PR experts bill after he sought advice to defend his image.

The star's claim could top £1.5 million if he wins the case.

The 'Summer Holiday' hitmaker claims his "creative and business" plans were thrown into "disarray" as he was forced to sell his house, and cancel a book and two album releases.

A legal source told the publication: "The writ runs to 26 pages and is utterly devastating.

"It represents total war between Sir Cliff and the BBC and the police."

In July, BBC director general Tony Hall defended the corporation's coverage of the raid on Cliff's home and while he apologised for the "distress" caused, he insisted there was "nothing wrong" with their decision to broadcast the story.

He said: "We have said two things to Sir Cliff, who is a fabulous entertainer and has done a great things for the BBC over many, many years. We have said we are sorry for the distress he has been caused over the last couple of years.

"But we have also said that the Home Affairs Select Committee ... reviewed our decisions and said we see nothing wrong in the BBC's decision to run the story - and I think that's right.

"If the police are investigating a matter of public interest and concern, we should report that. And it's not just us, but our colleagues on other broadcasting media and newspapers as well."

Cliff always denied the claims and recently admitted he suffered "episodes of depression" following the accusations.

He said: "As you would expect, I had trouble carrying on with life as normal. The stress was physical and not just mental.

"Over the course of the 22 months of the investigation, I suffered from episodes of depression.

"As well as my faith, I am fortunate to have an incredible support network which, I have no doubt, I could not have done without.

"But I felt as though I was in a hole and I had no means of escape.

"It was the first thing that I thought of in the morning, and the last at night."