BBC will not challenge Cliff Richard ruling

Sir Cliff Richard (pic: Victoria Jones/PA Wire)
Sir Cliff Richard (pic: Victoria Jones/PA Wire)
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The BBC has said it will not challenge the court ruling after losing its legal battle with Sir Cliff Richard over its coverage of a police raid on the singer's home.

The 77-year-old had sued the broadcaster over coverage of a South Yorkshire Police search at his Berkshire home in August 2014, following a child sex assault allegation.

Mr Justice Mann ruled in the pop star's favour following a High Court trial in London, calling the coverage a 'very serious' invasion of privacy and awarding Sir Cliff £210,000 in damages.

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The BBC today announced it would no longer be pursuing an appeal against the judgment.

Instead, director general Tony Hall has written to the attorney general Geoffrey Cox QC asking him to consider a review of the law on naming people involved in police investigations.

"There is a fundamental principle of press freedom at stake here and one upon which we believe Parliament, as our lawmakers, should decide," he said.

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The BBC reiterated its view that the ruling 'represents a dramatic shift against press freedom'.

Mr Mann heard that in late 2013, a man made an allegation to the Metropolitan Police that he had been sexually assaulted as a child by the singer during an event featuring evangelist Billy Graham at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane stadium in 1985.

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

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Sir Cliff denied the allegation, was never arrested and in June 2016 prosecutors announced he would face no charges.

A spokesman for the singer said: "Sir Cliff reluctantly took his case to court because he felt his privacy had been flagrantly invaded and disappointingly the BBC were not prepared to acknowledge that and apologise.

"He welcomes the fact the BBC have decided not to seek permission to appeal from the Court of Appeal, particularly after the judge gave his judgement that they had no grounds on which to pursue such an action.

"Sir Cliff now hopes that outstanding issues can be resolved quickly."