Belfast Telegraph

Sir Cliff Richard's finances could be revealed in BBC court battle

By Sian Harrison

Sir Cliff Richard has been warned that details of his personal finances might be revealed during a High Court battle with the BBC.

A judge yesterday suggested that journalists could argue that detail should not be kept from the public just because the 77-year-old singer wanted to keep his financial affairs secret.

Mr Justice Mann issued the warning at the latest in a series of preliminary hearings at the High Court in London after lawyers representing Sir Cliff asked him to bar journalists from having access to part of a document which contained personal financial details.

He said the details contained in the document would remain private at this stage of the litigation. But he said the position may change at a trial.

Sir Cliff is suing the BBC over coverage of a raid at his apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014.

Lawyers representing the singer say he has suffered "profound and long-lasting'' damage.

BBC editors have said they will "defend ourselves vigorously''.

A spokesman said the BBC had reported Sir Cliff's "full denial of the allegations at every stage''.

Lawyers have told how, in late 2013, a man made an allegation to the Metropolitan Police, saying 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 and in June 2016 prosecutors announced that he would face no charges.

Mr Justice Mann has overseen a number of preliminary hearings.

Any trial is expected to take place next year.

Sir Cliff had also sued South Yorkshire Police.

But the judge has been told that dispute was settled after the force agreed to pay the singer "substantial'' damages.

Mr Justice Mann was told that personal financial information was contained in a written outline of a legal issue - a "skeleton argument" - to which journalists covering the hearing would normally have access.

He said that he would order that the information remained "confidential" at the present time.

But he said withholding information from the press was a "serious matter" - regardless of whether that information was written in skeleton argument or aired at hearings.

"It does not follow that these matters will remain confidential at the trial," Mr Justice Mann said.

"An argument could be made that these arguments... should not be held in complete secrecy simply because (Sir Cliff) wants to keep his financial affairs secret."

He added: "It should not be assumed in any way that these matters will remain confidential during the trial."

Justin Rushbrooke QC, who is heading the veteran pop singer's legal team, said that the information being referred to was personal financial detail that was "absolutely classically" in the category of personal financial information "which the court should protect".

Sir Cliff was not present at yesterday's hearing.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph