Cliff Richard 'violated and betrayed' after police raid
Sir Cliff Richard felt “violated and betrayed” by the BBC’s decision to broadcast footage of a police search of his apartment, the High Court has heard.
Television presenter Gloria Hunniford, a long-term friend of the singer, said he had seemed “utterly distraught”.
Hunniford outlined her concerns in a written witness statement given during the latest stage of the trial in London, which is being overseen by Mr Justice Mann.
Sir Cliff has told the judge how BBC coverage of the police raid on his home in August 2014 left him feeling “forever tainted”.
He said seeing footage of his penthouse apartment being searched in Berkshire was like “watching burglars” going through his belongings.
Sir Cliff claims the BBC’s coverage of the search, which was staged after a sex assault allegation, was a “very serious invasion” of his privacy – with the star demanding damages at the “top end” of the scale.
The BBC disputes his claims, with corporation bosses claiming its coverage was accurate and in good faith.
Mr Justice Mann began overseeing the trial on Thursday.
Hunniford said she had watched the BBC report of the police search in August 2014.
“I could not believe what I was seeing,” she said.
“He is a gentle and kind soul and I was extremely worried about how he would be reacting.
“He seemed utterly distraught that the search and allegations against him had been broadcast so widely around the world, and about what everyone must be thinking about him.”
She said she had seen Sir Cliff in recent months and that he seems “more his old self and is looking a lot better”.
Hunniford added: “However, he cannot stop talking about how violated and betrayed he feels about the BBC decision to broadcast the police search of his apartment and create the media storm that ensued.”
Sir Cliff’s lawyers have said the BBC got information about a sex assault allegation from a “tainted” police source.
They have told Mr Justice Mann that the information came from someone connected to a wider Metropolitan Police inquiry into sex abuse allegations, an investigation codenamed Operation Yewtree.
Justice Rushbrooke QC, who leads Sir Cliff’s legal team, said lawyers knew “for a fact” that “Yewtree was the source”.
They suggested that the journalist who obtained the information must have known that it had been “improperly” released by someone involved in a “highly sensitive” police operation and said the source was “tainted”.
A BBC reporter who covered the South Yorkshire Police search of Sir Cliff’s home texted one of the force’s press officers about a “bonkers but brilliant” day, it was heard.
The press officer replied saying she was getting “lots of grief from the media” because “everyone thinks we tipped you off”.
Detail of the text conversation between journalist Dan Johnson and Carrie Goodwin, head of corporate communications at South Yorkshire Police, was analysed by the judge as evidence.
Ms Goodwin accepted during cross examination from the BBC’s lawyer that she knew how the broadcaster planned to handle the story one month before the search was carried out.
During Monday’s evidence, there was a dispute between the BBC and South Yorkshire Police. The force said the BBC put pressure on them to let reporters accompany the raid, while the BBC claims that the police were keen for the publicity.
To execute the warrant to search the address, South Yorkshire Police had to operate in the Thames Valley force area.
Ms Goodwin sent a press officer to attend the raid all day and accepts this was slightly unusual.
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