LONDON (AFP) – Veteran British pop star Cliff Richard won a long-running case against the BBC on Wednesday (July 18) after it broadcast live on TV a police raid on his home over allegations that were later dropped.
In the High Court, Judge Anthony Mann said the BBC had infringed Richard’s privacy rights in a “serious” and “sensationalist” way and awarded him £210,000 (S$374,380) for the “general effect” on his life.
He said Richard was also entitled to further sums for the financial impact of the incident, which will be decided at a later date.
Richard, 77, was Britain’s first home-grown pop star and considered the country’s answer to Elvis Presley.
His home was raided in 2014 as part of an investigation into historical allegations of sexual assault.
But he was never arrested or criminally charged and was told in 2016 there was insufficient evidence against him.
“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 at the start of his case.
“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 police cut a deal with the broadcaster in a bid to delay them 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.
The BBC has said it is “very sorry” for causing the singer distress, but stood by its decision to report the investigation.
The police had also apologised to the star.
Richard, who burst onto the pop scene in the late 1950s, is the third biggest-selling artist in British singles chart history, behind The Beatles and Presley.
His hits include The Young Ones, Living Doll, Summer Holiday, Congratulations, Mistletoe And Wine and The Millennium Prayer.
There has been a wave of accusations of historical sex abuse against prominent figures in Britain since 2012, when the late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile was revealed to be a serial paedophile.