LONDON (Reuters) – British singer Cliff Richard is pursuing legal action against the BBC and the police after the broadcaster televised a raid on his house, saying his reputation had been “unnecessarily damaged”.
One of Britain’s best known entertainers, Richard, 75, was investigated over allegations of sexual offences between 1958 and 1983, but the Crown Prosecution Service said last month it would not charge him, due to lack of evidence.
Having been cleared of charges, Richard, who maintained his innocence throughout the investigation, has started legal action over the BBC’s reporting of the case.
The broadcaster televised a police raid on his house in August 2014. Richard said it had been wrong to make his name public before any charges had been brought.
“I confirm that I have instructed my lawyers to make formal legal complaints to South Yorkshire Police and the BBC so that in the absence of satisfactory answers a court will determine whether or not their behavior was justified and proportionate,” Richard said in a statement on his website.
“It is important not only for me personally but much more widely. My life was effectively turned upside down and my reputation, worldwide, was unnecessarily damaged.”
The Mail on Sunday newspaper reported that Richard was seeking more than 1 million pounds ($1.30 million) in damages, adding that he believed the police and the BBC “unlawfully colluded” to invade his privacy.
The BBC declined comment but referred Reuters to a statement last month in which the broadcaster said it was very sorry that Richard had suffered distress, but stood by its decision to report on the police investigation and the search of his house.
A review by lawmakers on the Home Affairs Select Committee in October 2014 criticized what it called the police’s “inept handling” of the situation, but said there had been nothing wrong in the BBC’s decision to run the story.
South Yorkshire police declined comment.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Adrian Croft and Gareth Jones)