07 October 2016

"We stand by our journalism..."

Yesterday, Cliff Richard formally launched a legal action against South Yorkshire Police and the BBC. He filed a lawsuit at the High Court in London after the BBC broadcast coverage of a police search of his property. South Yorkshire Police gave the BBC advance notice that the search would take place on 14th August 2014, giving the broadcaster the opportunity to position a helicopter above the building in time to film the police arriving and departing.

The BBC released a statement saying: "we are very sorry that Sir Cliff has suffered distress but we have a duty to report on matters of public interest and we stand by our journalism." Richard was named by the BBC and other media organisations after an investigation into allegations of sexual assault was initiated. He was one of several public figures (including Alistair McAlpine) investigated as part of 'Operation Yewtree'.

Ultimately, no charges were brought against him, though he argues that his reputation was damaged by the BBC's coverage of the investigation. (On the other hand, media coverage after the initial police search was largely sympathetic, with the tabloids reporting the investigation as an ordeal for Richard and presupposing that he was innocent.)