Sir Cliff Richard: I feel forever tainted after BBC coverage of police raid
The broadcaster says its reporting of the raid on the singer’s Berkshire home was accurate and in good faith.
Sir Cliff Richard has told a High Court judge he felt “forever tainted” following BBC coverage of a police raid on his home.
The 77-year-old singer has taken legal action over BBC coverage of the search, which was staged after a sex assault allegation.
BBC bosses dispute his claims.
Mr Justice Mann began overseeing a trial at the High Court in London on Thursday and Sir Cliff started giving evidence on Friday.
He has made a written witness statement and answered lawyers’ questions in court.
The singer told of the “impact” the broadcast had on him.
“It was shocking and upsetting,” he said in his witness statement.
“My health suffered, both mentally and physically.”
He added: “At one point … I actually thought was going to have a heart attack or stroke.”
Sir Cliff said he was conscious that people around the world might think he was a “serious criminal”.
“I felt as though everything I had worked for during my life – trying to live as honestly and honourably as I could – was being torn apart,” he said.
“I felt forever tainted. I still do.”
A barrister leading Sir Cliff’s legal team has told Mr Justice Mann that BBC coverage of the search at the singer’s apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014 was a “very serious invasion” of privacy.
Justin Rushbrooke QC said the singer should get compensation at the “very top end of the scale”.
The BBC says its coverage of the police raid was accurate and in good faith.
Lawyers representing BBC bosses told Mr Justice Mann that the raid was a “matter of legitimate public interest”.
They said BBC reporting contributed to public debate.
The trial is due to last 10 days.
Lawyers have told Mr Justice Mann how in late 2013, a man made an allegation to 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, 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.
A BBC spokesman has said the broadcaster had reported Sir Cliff’s “full denial of the allegations at every stage”.