BBC apologises to Cliff Richard for naming him as sex abuse suspect

The BBC has issued an apology to Sir Cliff Richard after he was publicly named as a suspect in a child sex abuse investigation.

Wednesday, 22nd June 2016, 6:44 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd June 2016, 8:23 am
Sir Cliff Richard

The veteran entertainer said he thought he was 'going to die' as a result of the stress brought on by the South Yorkshire Police probe into historical allegations, including one that he had assaulted a teenage boy at a Christian rally in Sheffield in the mid 1980s.

The case against him was dropped this month by the Crown Prosecution Service.

A police search of the 75-year-old's apartment in Berkshire was broadcast live by the BBC after a South Yorkshire Police tip-off.

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Yesterday, in a statement, the BBC said it had 'applied normal editorial judgments' in covering the story, but added: "The BBC is very sorry that Sir Cliff Richard, who has worked as a musician and performer for so many years with the organisation, has suffered distress.

"The BBC's responsibility is to report fully stories that are in the public interest. Police investigations into prominent figures in public life are, of course, squarely in the public interest, which is why they have been reported by all news organisations in this country.

"Once South Yorkshire Police had confirmed the investigation and Sir Cliff Richard's identity and informed the BBC of the timing and details of the search of his property, it would neither have been editorially responsible nor in the public interest to choose not to report fully the investigation into Sir Cliff Richard because of his public profile.

"The BBC, at every stage, reported Sir Cliff's full denial of the allegations.

"The BBC, therefore, stands by the decision to report the investigation undertaken by South Yorkshire Police and the search of his property."

Sir Cliff, who always maintained his innocence during the two year police probe, was at his home in Portugal in August 2014 when he received a call saying police officers had a warrant to search his Berkshire apartment.

He was unaware of what he had been accused of until coverage of the raid appeared on BBC News.