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BBC begins bid to contest Sir Cliff Richard privacy ruling

The singer had sued the corporation over coverage of a police raid on his home.

BBC bosses have begun an appeal process after losing a High Court privacy fight with Sir Cliff Richard.

The 77-year-old singer sued over BBC coverage of a South Yorkshire Police raid on his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014, following a child sex assault allegation.

Earlier this month, Mr Justice Mann ruled in Sir Cliff’s favour following a High Court trial in London.

The judge concluded coverage was a “very serious” privacy invasion and awarded Sir Cliff £210,000 damages.

He said the award would be made up of £190,000 to cover the “general effect” coverage had on Sir Cliff’s life – plus £20,000 because the BBC had aggravated harm by nominating coverage for an award.

BBC bosses have to get permission to appeal by showing they have a realistic chance of overturning the ruling.

Either Mr Justice Mann or a Court of Appeal judge could give that permission.

Lawyers representing the BBC on Thursday began that process at a follow-up hearing in London.

They asked Mr Justice Mann to give the BBC the go-ahead to mount an appeal.

Mr Justice Mann heard that in late 2013, a man made an allegation to the Metropolitan Police, saying he had been sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff during an event featuring evangelist Billy Graham at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane football stadium in 1985, when he was a child.

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

Sir Cliff denied the allegation.

He was never arrested and in June 2016 prosecutors announced he would face no charges.

Mr Justice Mann was told the BBC had agreed to pick up lawyers’ bills run up by Sir Cliff.

A lawyer representing Sir Cliff did not give an overall figure but said bosses had agreed to pay £850,000 on account.

Sir Cliff told the trial he had spent more than £3 million on the case.

Barrister Gavin Millar QC, who leads the BBC legal team, outlined his permission to appeal arguments in a written document.

He said issues raised in the case meant there was a “compelling reason” for an appeal to be heard, and it had a “real prospect” of success.

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