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BBC defends helicopter use during Cliff Richard raid coverage

Sir Cliff has sued the BBC over coverage of a South Yorkshire Police search on his home in August 2014.

Bosses have defended the BBC’s use of a helicopter during coverage of a police raid on Sir Cliff Richard’s home following a child sex assault allegation.

Lawyers representing the BBC on Wednesday told a judge overseeing a High Court trial that shots had been taken from the air to illustrate the story.

Barrister Gavin Millar QC, who leads the BBC’s legal team, told Mr Justice Mann that footage broadcast had shown what police were doing.

He said shots were used sparingly and nothing “private” had been broadcast.

Sir Cliff has sued the BBC over coverage of a South Yorkshire Police search on his home in August 2014 and wants damages at the “top end” of the scale.

The 77-year-old singer, who was abroad when police searched, has told Mr Justice Mann that coverage, which involved the use of a helicopter, was a “very serious invasion” of his privacy.

Officers were shown walking in and out. It was not directed at (Sir Cliff’s) home Gavin Millar QC on the helicopter footage

The BBC disputes his claims.

Bosses say coverage of the search of the apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, was accurate and in good faith.

Mr Justice Mann has finished analysing evidence.

He is now considering barristers’ closing legal arguments.

“Officers were shown walking in and out,” Mr Millar told Mr Justice Mann.

“It was not directed at (Sir Cliff’s) home but directed at what the police officers were doing.

He added: “They didn’t show anything private in the sense of his private life.”

The judge has heard 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 stadium as 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 he would face no charges.

A BBC spokesman has said the BBC reported Sir Cliff’s “full denial of the allegations at every stage”.

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