Sir Cliff Richard prepares to sue BBC over police raid

Jul 25, 2016

Veteran singer readies legal action after broadcaster stands by decision to air live footage of police search at his Berkshire home

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Sir Cliff Richard is set to sue the BBC after the corporation stood by its decision to broadcast live footage of a police raid on his home.

South Yorkshire Police raided the veteran singer's Berkshire penthouse in August 2014 over an allegation of a historic sex crime dating from the 1980s. Richard was not at the property at the time and watched from Portugal as live footage of the search, including shots from a helicopter, was broadcast on the BBC.

The Crown Prosecution Service dismissed the case last month on the grounds of "insufficient evidence".

Richard, who maintained his innocence throughout the investigation, has since spoken about what he considers the improper collusion between the police and BBC.

The star's legal team contacted the BBC earlier this month to warn he was prepared to sue the corporation and South Yorkshire Police for the "unnecessary damage" caused by their cooperation over the raid.

Richard also accused the police of failing to follow guidelines set out by the College of Policing three years ago recommending that suspects are not named until officially charged, although this can be decided on a case-by-case basis.

"Somebody has to teach them a lesson and if it's done by suing, let's do it," Richard told the Daily Mail last month.

Lawyers are thought to have requested around £1m in compensation for the personal and commercial damages incurred by Richard, who claims his health suffered as a result of the publicity surrounding the case and that sales of his annual calendar dropped.

The BBC yesterday denied any wrongdoing and defended the public interest case for broadcasting the raid.

Having been informed that the raid was to take place, "it would neither have been editorially responsible nor in the public interest to choose not to report fully the investigation into Sir Cliff Richard because of his public profile", said a spokesman.

He added that the corporation was "very sorry" Richard had been caused distress.

Cliff Richard: Tony Blair supported me during sex abuse claims

22 June

Sir Cliff Richard has revealed that Tony Blair was among the high-profile figures to offer him support after he was accused of historic sex abuse.

In an interview with Gloria Hunniford today for ITV, Richard said the former prime minister called "just to comfort me".

Blair, whose family were once regular guests at the singer's home in Barbados, apparently rang to say: "I feel so sorry that this has happened. You have our support – we don't believe a word of it."

Sir Elton John and the late Cilla Black also offered words of advice, Richard added.

"Elton was one of the first people that called me – he, actually I can't use the language he used, but he said, 'Go for their rotten throat,'" he said.

"Cilla was right there and of course, I was seeing a lot of her anyway in Barbados, too."

The 75-year-old star said he felt like he was "going to die" when he turned on the television to see the BBC broadcasting live footage of detectives searching his home in Berkshire in August 2014.

Richard, who was in Portugal at the time, believes there was an "illegal collusion" between South Yorkshire Police and the corporation. 

The Crown Prosecution Service has since dropped the case due to lack of evidence, but Richard says he lived through "two years of hell" and is looking at taking legal action against both organisations.

"I've never known, I don't think, investigations take place with lighting and cameras and special angles for the helicopter – it just seems ridiculous," he said.

"I feel I have every right to sue because, if nothing else, definitely for gross intrusion of my privacy." 

South Yorkshire Police and the BBC have both apologised to Richard.

Cliff Richard considering suing police and BBC over abuse claims

21 June

Sir Cliff Richard has opened up about his "two years of hell" since South Yorkshire Police raided his home live on the BBC following allegations of historic sex abuse.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced last week that the 75-year-old singer will not face charges due to lack of evidence.

Richard is now considering suing the police force and the BBC.

"We're talking about it with the lawyers and at the appropriate time we'll have made a decision definitely. I do feel that they owe me something," he told the Daily Mail.

Richard's house in Berkshire was raided on 14 August 2014, with the BBC live-broadcasting the scene from a helicopter above.

Once the story broke, the singer received calls from his family and others describing what they had seen on television.

"I didn't vomit, but the greatest knot in the stomach arrived," he told the Mail. "It was like a boulder. You know, you just have that, 'God, what is happening to me?'"

It was not until the next day that the enormity of the sex assault accusation, dating back to 1985, sunk in, he said.

"That was the moment of my biggest despair. I just collapsed. I couldn't imagine what depression was like, but I have an idea now. I felt as though I was in this hole and I had no means of getting out," he said.

"I didn't know how I could face the future or face my friends or face my family. I was in tears, I have to admit.

"I was on my knees in tears in the kitchen. I was thinking, 'How can I get out of this? How can I ever climb out of this hole.' Somebody got me to my feet and said, 'You've got to stand up, you are not guilty, hold your head up, you can do it.'"

The singer said he was in tears again last week following the announcement that there was no evidence to support the claim.

Nevertheless, he said he had forgiven his accuser. "He probably doesn’t even know I've forgiven him, but me forgiving him is not as good as God forgiving him. But only he can ask for that forgiveness."

Richard has also recorded an hour-long interview with his close friend Gloria Hunniford, which will be shown in full during Loose Women tomorrow.

Cliff Richard will not face charges over sexual abuse allegations

16 June

Sir Cliff Richard will not face charges related to historical sexual abuse claims due to lack of evidence, the Crown Prosecution Service has announced.

Prosecutors said they worked with police to carefully review evidence related to separate allegations made by four men and dating between 1958 and 1983.

"We have decided that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute," Martin Goldman, chief crown prosecutor for Yorkshire and Humberside, said in a statement.

"The complainants have been informed and provided with a full explanation in writing," he added.

The allegations first came to the world's attention in 2014, when the BBC broadcast live footage of a police raid on Richard's mansion in Berkshire, while he was away on holiday in Portugal.

Richard, 75, was interviewed several times by police but never arrested or charged. He has always professed his innocence.

Responding to the news, the singer issued a strongly worded statement saying he was "obviously thrilled that the vile accusations and the resulting investigation have finally been brought to a close".

However, he added that he "cannot understand why it has taken so long to get to this point".

He also argued that the prosecutors' statement "does not go far enough" because "it doesn't expressly state that I am innocent".

Saying that his reputation may never recover, he called for people facing such allegations to have their identities kept secret until charged, except in exceptional circumstances.

However, the BBC's home affairs correspondent, Danny Shaw, argues "this is not necessarily the end" of the matter.

"The CPS makes that quite clear in its statement," he told the broadcaster's Victoria Derbyshire show. "Every complainant has the right to a review of a decision not to bring charges."

Cliff Richard sex abuse claims: CPS considers bringing charges

11 May

Prosecutors are considering whether to bring charges against Sir Cliff Richard in relation to allegations of historic sex abuse.

Detectives investigating the claims against the veteran entertainer have been "coming under pressure to wind up the two-year probe", reports the Daily Telegraph.

The Crown Prosecution Service yesterday confirmed it had received a "full file of evidence" from South Yorkshire Police.

"We will now carefully consider its contents in order to establish whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and whether it is in the public interest to do so," it said.

Sky News crime correspondent Martin Brunt reports that it is unclear how many allegations there are against the 75-year-old singer. "We think there are two," he said.

One claim reportedly relates to the alleged abuse of a 15-year-old boy at an event in Sheffield in 1985 led by US evangelist Billy Graham.

Details of the investigation first emerged in August 2014, when the BBC broadcast live footage of a police raid on the singer's mansion in Berkshire while he was away on holiday in Portugal.

Richard has been questioned twice in connection to historic sex abuse claims, once in 2014 and again last year, but has never been arrested or charged.

He has always professed his innocence and says the allegations are "absurd and untrue".

A spokesperson for the singer refused to respond to the latest development. "It would be inappropriate to comment while the matter is under review," he said.

Sir Cliff Richard re-questioned by police over 1980s sex crime claim

06 November

Sir Cliff Richard has been re-interviewed by South Yorkshire police over claims he committed a sex crime involving a young boy in the 1980s, his spokesman has claimed.

The singer and entertainer had previously been questioned over the offence under caution last year but was not arrested or charged.

Now it has emerged that Richard has been interviewed by police a second time over the incident.

"Sir Cliff Richard voluntarily met with and was interviewed by members of South Yorkshire police. He was not arrested or charged, nor has he ever been," his spokesman said.

"He cooperated fully with officers and answered the questions put to him. Other than restating that the allegations are completely false and that he will continue to cooperate fully with the police, it would not be appropriate for Sir Cliff to say anything further at this time."

The Guardian notes that the news follows reports earlier this year that the investigation into the 75-year-old singer has expanded to look into more than one allegation.

"The chief constable of South Yorkshire police, David Crompton, said in a letter to Keith Vaz, chair of the home affairs select committee, that detectives were involved in a growing inquiry into allegations against the singer, who denied all wrongdoing," the paper claims.

The Independent reports that following the publication of the letter, the veteran entertainer's lawyers roundly criticised the home affairs select committee, saying its disclosure "caused him a further round of unnecessary and extremely damaging media coverage".

Since the allegations first emerged, Richard has continued to profess his innocence, saying that the claims against him were "absurd and untrue" and he had "never, in my life, assaulted anyone".

Cliff Richard: police drop one of three inquiries, claims friend

21 September

Police have dropped one of the three investigations into alleged sex abuse by Sir Cliff Richard, according to reports.

The singer provided the police with evidence that he was never alone on the days when two men allege he attacked them in separate incidents in the 1980s, an unnamed friend told The Sunday Times.

The evidence appears to refute claims that Richard assaulted a 15-year-old at a Billy Graham rally in Sheffield in 1985 and another alleged victim who said he took part in the making of a music video with the star in 1981.

Richard, who has not been arrested or charged, is yet to comment, while South Yorkshire Police said it "won't be providing a running commentary on the investigation".  The force added that "the inquiry continues and inquiries are ongoing".

The singer's home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, was searched by police in August last year while he was away in Portugal, with footage of the raid broadcast live on the BBC.

The Sunday Times points out that seven celebrities, including Freddie Starr and Paul Gambaccini, have been exonerated after facing historical abuse accusations under the overarching police inquiry Operation Yewtree.

The singer, who has vehemently denied the claims and called them "absurd", is preparing for a UK concert tour to mark his 75th birthday culminating in five nights at the Royal Albert Hall.

Cliff Richard to sell homes searched by Yewtree police

21 May

Sir Cliff Richard has put his Berkshire home on the market for £4.75 million, nine months after police were filmed searching the property in connection to an allegation of sexual assault.  

The 74 year-old star watched from his holiday home in the Algarve as South Yorkshire police entered the mansion where he has lived since 2008, while BBC helicopters provided rolling coverage of the raid.

Cilla Black, a long-term friend of Richard, said that the experience has left him haunted and unable to continue living in the house.

"It's the saddest thing for him, but he had to do it," Black, 71, told the Daily Telegraph. "Cliff is not all right, not at all. He will never, ever go back there again. I don't blame him."

The search was carried out in conjunction with an allegation that the singer sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy at a Christian rally organised by the American evangelical Billy Graham in Sheffield in 1985. Richard denies any involvement.

South Yorkshire police came under fire over the controversial deal with the BBC, which allowed the broadcaster to film the search as it took place. In return, the BBC agreed to hold back a news item revealing that an allegation of historic sex abuse by Richard was being investigated as part of Operation Yewtree until after the raid.

In defence of the arrangement, the force claimed that it feared that crucial evidence might be compromised or lost if the allegation was made public before the police search could be carried out.

Nevertheless, a report compiled by former chief constable Andy Trotter questioned the justification for the deal, saying that it was unlikely that the BBC would have run such a story without police co-operation. Trotter also found that the force had caused 'unnecessary distress' to Richard and that the star 'should not have been informed of the allegations through the media'.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the inquiry surrounding the former rock and roll star had increased "significantly" and now involved multiple allegations. Richard has been interviewed by police, but no formal charges have been brought against him. He continues to maintain that any accusations of sexual misconduct are "absurd and untrue".

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