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Sir Cliff Richard's raid case legal bills 'grossly unreasonable': BBC

Senior BBC officials have criticised Sir Cliff Richard over the lawyers' bills he has run up after complaining about reports naming him as a suspected sex offender and subsequent High Court action.

Bosses said a trial was unlikely to be staged this year, but figures show the singer has run up costs of more than £800,000.

Sir Cliff is taking action against the corporation and police over coverage of a raid on his apartment.

A barrister leading the BBC's legal team outlined concerns at a preliminary High Court hearing in London yesterday.

Gavin Millar QC told a judge in a written submission that costs incurred were "grossly unreasonable" and "on any view... disproportionate".

The BBC could be ordered to pick up Sir Cliff's legal bills if he wins the battle.

Mr Justice Mann is overseeing the latest in a series of preliminary hearings in London.

Lawyers for Sir Cliff, who was not at the hearing, which is due to end today, have provided explanations for bills.

The singer took legal action against the BBC and South Yorkshire Police over coverage of a raid at his apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014.

His lawyers have said he suffered "profound and long-lasting'' damage.

But BBC editors have said they will defend themselves "vigorously".

A spokeswoman said the BBC had reported Sir Cliff's "full denial of the allegations".

South Yorkshire Police has apologised "wholeheartedly for the additional anxiety caused'' by the force's "initial handling of the media interest'' in its investigation into the singer.

Lawyers said that in late 2013 a man made an allegation to the Metropolitan Police that he had been sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane football stadium when a child in 1985.

Metropolitan Police officers passed the allegation to South Yorkshire Police in July 2014.

Sir Cliff denied the allegation "as soon as it was brought to his attention'', and in June 2016 prosecutors announced he would face no charges. He later said he feared he would die as a result of the stress.

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