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  1. ITV Report

ITV News exclusive: Emotional Sir Cliff Richard speaks of his 'most wonderful relief' after privacy case win over BBC

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

Sir Cliff Richard has fought back tears as he told ITV News of his "most wonderful relief" at winning a privacy battle against the BBC.

The 77-year-old singer was awarded more than £200,000 in damages.

He had taken legal action against BBC bosses over broadcasts of a South Yorkshire Police raid on his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014, following a child sex assault allegation.

Speaking to ITV News after the ruling, an emotional Sir Cliff said he still struggles to speak about the ordeal.

The star said hearing Mr Justice Mann say the BBC had infringed his privacy rights in a "serious and sensationalist way" was "far more emotional" than he thought.

On his feelings after victory, he said: "The break-in to my apartment was three years, 11 months, four days ago and I thought 'I'm passed all that now, it's in my past' but I find I still can't speak about it too well, I'm controlling myself at the moment but I'm sure when I speak to people about this again I shall be weeping again.

Choking up, he added: It's just the most wonderful relief, not just for me, my business manager, my secretary, my friends, my family, they've suffered it with me and I'm not sure that they deserve that."

The judge awarded Sir Cliff £210,000 damages for the "general effect" on his life and said he is entitled to recover further sums for the financial impact on the star, which will be decided at a later date.

Outside the court, the star made a brief comment to reporters:

Fran Unsworth, the corporation's director of news, said the BBC is considering an appeal against the judgement.

Asked by a reporter if either she or BBC head of news-gathering Jonathan Munro has considered offering their resignations, Ms Unsworth replied that the judgment was "very long" and that the corporation will "take time to consider what lessons are to be learned".

She added that she believed every member of BBC staff involved with the story about the raid on Sir Cliff's home had "acted in good faith".

Outside court Sir Cliff stood next to a lawyer who read a statement on his behalf.

The singer said it was "going to take a little while" as he was too emotional to talk, and added: "I hope you'll forgive me."

Sir Cliff arriving at the Rolls Building in London to hear the ruling of the dispute that he has with the BBC. Credit: PA

Statement from the Sir Cliff Richard's lawyer:

Lawyer Gideon Benaim said the singer never expected, after 60 years in the public eye, to have his "privacy and reputation tarnished in such a way".

He said the BBC refused to apologise and insisted it had run a public interest story.

A BBC spokesman said: "This judgment creates new case law and represents a dramatic shift against press freedom and the long-standing ability of journalists to report on police investigations, which in some cases has led to further complainants coming forward.

"This impacts not just the BBC, but every media organisation.

"This isn't just about reporting on individuals. It means police investigations, and searches of people's homes, could go unreported and unscrutinised.

"It will make it harder to scrutinise the conduct of the police and we fear it will undermine the wider principle of the public's right to know. It will put decision making in the hands of the police.

"We don't believe this is compatible with liberty and press freedoms, something that has been at the heart of this country for generations.

BBC 's director of news, Fran Unsworth, said the BBC is considering an appeal against the judgement. Credit: PA

"For all of these reasons, there is a significant principle at stake. That is why the BBC is looking at an appeal."

Mr Justice Mann found that the BBC was the "more potent causer" of the damage to Sir Cliff and its breach of the singer's privacy was "more significant" than South Yorkshire Police's.

He said reporter Dan Johnson "knew, or ought to have known" that what he was getting from the police was "exceptional" and was provided in breach of confidence.

He also said the decision to publish was "entirely the BBC's" and that the corporation "chose the prominence given to the news".

The judge assessed the responsibility for the damage caused to Sir Cliff as being split 65% to 35% between the BBC and SYP respectively.

The total amount the BBC has to pay will not be determined until the special damages element of Sir Cliff's case is resolved.

Sir Cliff says victory was 'far more emotional' than he had imagined. Credit: PA

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "I welcome the judgment in this case and am sorry for the distress caused to Sir Cliff Richard over this difficult period of time.

"South Yorkshire Police admitted and acknowledged their mistakes, settling damages with Sir Cliff Richard out of court in 2017.

"I have also been assured by South Yorkshire Police, that they have implemented the five recommendations in the 2014 Trotter Review, an independent review into the disclosure of information to the BBC.

"This was conducted by former Chief Constable Andy Trotter and commissioned by my predecessor."

Fans gathered outside the courtroom sang a refrain of the singer's hit 'Congratulations' as he left with his legal team.

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The judge oversaw a trial at the High Court in London during April and May.

During the hearing Sir Cliff told the judge that coverage, which involved the use of a helicopter, was a "very serious invasion" of his privacy.

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

Mr Justice Mann heard that, in late 2013, a man made an allegation to the Metropolitan Police, saying he had been sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff during an event featuring evangelist Billy Graham at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane football stadium, in 1985, when he was a child.

Metropolitan Police officers passed the allegation to South Yorkshire Police in July 2014.

Sir Cliff denied the allegation and was never arrested, and in June 2016 prosecutors announced that he would face no charges.

South Yorkshire Police had agreed to pay Sir Cliff £400,000 after settling a claim he brought against the force.

Media outside the Charters Estate in Sunningdale, Berkshire, where police searched Sir Cliff Richard's apartment in 2014 following a child sex assault allegation. Credit: PA

Here is the the full summary by Mr Justice Mann:

  • This is the occasion of the hand-down of my judgment in this case. It should now be treated as formally delivered. Because of the length of my judgment, and because of the significant public interest which I believe it will attract, I provide the following summary of its nature and effect. It is not part of the judgment and is provided by way of a summary only, and in the event of any conflict my judgment prevails. My judgment should be read in full for the full terms and effect of my decision on the many points that arise in this case.
  • In order to avoid any unnecessary or artificial suspense, I will say at this stage that Sir Cliff Richard succeeds in his claim against the BBC and will receive substantial damages.
  • In this case Sir Cliff Richard sues South Yorkshire Police ("SYP") in privacy and under the Data Protection Act 1998 in respect of the disclosure in July 2014 by that force of the fact that he was under investigation for alleged sexual offences involving a minor, and of the date, time and place of an intended search by SYP of his English property. He sues the BBC in privacy and under the Data Protection Act for publicly disclosing those facts and covering the search in various broadcasts in August 2014. He claims that those wrongful acts caused him great personal distress, damaged his reputation and had a huge adverse impact on his life. Sir Cliff was the subject of the police investigation until June 2016 when it was announced that he would face no charge.
  • Before the trial SYP had already admitted liability and agreed to pay Sir Cliff substantial damages in the sum of #400,000, plus costs. SYP's liability was therefore not the subject of the trial, but the trial did involve the question of whether South Yorkshire Police is entitled to claim a contribution from the BBC, and vice versa, in respect of damages for which they are both liable.
  • The main area of disputed fact in this case revolves around dealings between the BBC and SYP in July 2014. There was a dispute as to whether the police volunteered such information as it provided (the BBC's case) or whether SYP was manoeuvered into providing it from a fear and implicit threat that the BBC would or might publish news of the investigation before the police were ready to conduct their search (SYP's and Sir Cliff's case). As my judgment reflects, I have accepted the SYP/Cliff Richard case on this point, and rejected the BBC's case. I have found that SYP did not merely volunteer the material for its own purposes; it provided it because of a concern that if it did not do so there would be a prior publication by the BBC, a concern known to and probably fostered by the BBC's reporter, Mr Dan Johnson.
  • So far as the main claim in this case is concerned, I find that Sir Cliff had privacy rights in respect of the police investigation and that the BBC infringed those rights without a legal justification. It did so in a serious way and also in a somewhat sensationalist way. I have rejected the BBC's case that it was justified in reporting as it did under its rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. I did not find it necessary to rule on the claim under the Data Protection Act. Sir Cliff therefore wins on the privacy point and has established liability.
  • That infringement gives rise to a claim in damages. There are two types of damages - special damages and general damages. The special damages are certain specific claims arising out of what are said to be particular financial effects flowing from the infringement. The special damages points were raised by way of some sample instances on which I was invited to rule on legal causation. Sir Cliff has won on some of those samples, but not on others. I have not ruled on the amount of any particular special damages claim. That procedure is intended to clear away some of the issues for the purposes of future determination by the court, or to facilitate settlement. If those claims do not settle they will have to be determined in a later inquiry.
  • The general damages cover the general effect on Sir Cliff and his life. I have found that this was a serious infringement of Sir Cliffs privacy rights, in terms of what was disclosed, in terms of the manner of disclosure and in terms of the effect on Sir Cliff. The damage caused was substantial and I have assessed basic general damages at #190,000. There is also a claim to aggravated damages, in which Sir Cliff sought to extend his damages claim by reference to what were said to be various aggravating features. I have rejected all but one of those aggravation claims. The exception is the claim arising out of the BBC's nominating its story for an award at the Royal Television Society Awards as the "Scoop of the Year" (which, incidentally, it did not win). I have found that that merits aggravated damages which I have assessed at £20,000. Thus Sir Cliff recovers £210,000 by way of general damages.
  • Most of the damages claimed in this case are damages which have been caused by both the BBC and SYP, which gives rise to the need to determine how those damages should be borne as between those two parties. That is the function of the cross-contribution claims. SYP said that the BBC was much more responsible than it was and proposed that liability for the damages ought to be borne in the proportions 20%/80% as between the police and BBC respectively. The BBC's case, at its highest, was that it ought not to have to contribute at all and that the police ought to bear all the damages. I have rejected both parties' extreme cases but nonetheless decided that the BBC was much more responsible than SYP, and have determined that the damages for which both parties are responsible (which does not include the aggravated damages) ought to be borne 35%/65% as between SYP and the BBC respectively, principally on the footing that the BBC was a significantly greater contributor to the damage that was caused.
  • That is a summary of what I have decided in my judgment. Because of the length of that judgment it is not being made generally available in paper form, but will now be available, together with this executive summary, online at www.judiciary.uk; and soon (without this summary) at www.bailii.org.