It took almost four years after the BBC reported that South Yorkshire police had searched Cliff Richard’s home due to an accusation of child sex abuse (on which no charges were ultimately pressed) for the singer to finally win its legal battle against the broadcaster.
Cliff Richard awarded £210,000 in damages
The singer will be awarded £190,000 in damages. A further £20,000 in aggravated damages will be awarded for the BBC’s choice of the story as a candidate for the Royal Television Society’s scoop of the year. The BBC’s total liability for the case will be £210,000.
Richard was present in court to hear the verdict, after which he stated: “I’m choked up. I can’t believe it. It’s wonderful news”. He cried when the verdict was announced. His legal team, however, have declared that the lawsuit has caused “possibly permanent damage to his self-esteem, standing and reputation” by the coverage of claims he sexually assaulted a young boy following a Billy Graham rally in Sheffield in 1985.
The judge handing down the verdict was critical of the BBC’s handling of the case. He found that the BBC had “infringed [Richard’s privacy] rights without a legal justification”. The judge added that “it did so in a serious way and also in a somewhat sensationalist way”. He rejected “the BBC’s case that it was justified in reporting as it did under its rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press”.
Fans greeted Cliff by singing “Congratulations”
Fans gathered outside the London court to hear the news, and when Richard walked out they joined together to sing a refrain of his 1968 Eurovision entry, “Congratulations”.
This verdict should now end the legal battle that has been going on for over four years. The singer had already settled outside of court with South Yorkshire police for £400,000 before the start of the trial.