Cliff Richard wins lawsuit against BBC for invasion of privacy

British singer Cliff Richard won a lawsuit against the BBC on Wednesday for invasion of privacy and was awarded 210,000 pounds (240,000 euros) in damages by the High Court in London.

Sir Cliff, 77, considered to be the “British Elvis”, had taken legal action against the BBC which had broadcast live footage taken from a helicopter of a police search at his home in Sunningdale (south east of England) in August 2014. This search took place as part of an investigation for sexual assault on a minor from which the singer finally came out cleared.

In making his decision, the judge said the BBC had “seriously” breached the star’s right to privacy “in a sensationalized way”. He awarded him 210,000 pounds in damages due to the “consequences” of this case on his life, specifying that he would be entitled to additional sums for the financial impact which will be decided at a later date.

“I have a lump in my throat. I can’t believe it. This is wonderful news”, reacted the singer.

The BBC regretted a judgment “contrary to freedom of the press and the ability of journalists to report on police investigations” and indicated that it was considering appealing, in a press release.

She had argued during the trial that her coverage of the operation was factually correct and in good faith.

The former rock star, who has sold nearly 250 million records worldwide, was suspected of having sexually assaulted a young boy in the 1980s, in the wake of the Jimmy Savile affair, which led to , from 2012, a series of investigations and trials for pedophilia and sexual assault.

The former BBC host, now deceased, is suspected of hundreds of sexual assaults on minors.

Cliff Richard’s house had been raided, but the singer had never been arrested or charged. After the announcement of the absence of prosecution, in June 2016, Cliff Richard was delighted to have been cleared of the “vile accusations” which weighed on him and had castigated the methods of the police.

South Yorkshire Police had offered “their deepest apologies” for their handling of the media coverage of the investigation and reached an agreement to pay the singer £400,000.

The BBC also apologized and acknowledged that “there are things that should have been done differently”. “However, the judge ruled that the mere mention of Sir Cliff’s name was unlawful,” she noted, fearing the court ruling “would undermine the principle of the public’s right to know”.

Tony Gallagher, editor-in-chief of the Sun, the UK’s best-selling daily, was also moved by a “lamentable” decision. “Victory for (alleged) criminals and money-hungry lawyers, terrible for the media,” he tweeted.

In the House of Commons, an MP suggested that the law be formally amended to prohibit the media from giving the names of suspects before they are charged. But Prime Minister Theresa May expressed skepticism, stressing to parliament that “in some cases publishing a name allows other victims to come forward and therefore strengthen the case against an individual”.

07/18/2018 16:26:29 – London (AFP) – © 2018 AFP

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Cliff Richard wins lawsuit against BBC for invasion of privacy

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