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No 'blanket restriction' on journalists in Sir Cliff's privacy fight with BBC over South Yorkshire Police raid

Sir Cliff Richard.
Sir Cliff Richard.
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A High Court judge who handed Sir Cliff Richard more than £200,000 in a ruling on a privacy fight with the BBC says he has not imposed a "blanket" restriction on journalists.

Editors said Mr Justice Mann's ruling had "worrying consequences" for press freedom and his decision would make it harder for journalists to scrutinise police.

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But the judge has raised concerns about the way his ruling is being interpreted.

Sir Cliff, aged 77, had sued over BBC coverage of a South Yorkshire Police raid on his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014, following a child sex assault allegation.

The judge had heard that, in late 2013, a man made an allegation to the Metropolitan 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 in 1985, when he was a child.

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

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

Earlier this month Mr Justice Mann ruled in Sir Cliff's favour following a High Court trial in London, concluding that coverage was a "very serious" privacy invasion and awarded the singer £210,000 damages.

However, Mr Justice Mann has yet to decide how badly Sir Cliff was left out of pocket as a result of the coverage and the singer is still in line to get more damages.

The BBC has also agreed to pay lawyers' bills run up by Sir Cliff during trial, which are about £850,000 on account.

South Yorkshire Police earlier agreed a £400,000 settlement with the singer.

Mr Justice Mann raised concern about the way his ruling had been interpreted when analysing a number of issues at a follow-up High Court hearing yesterday.

He complained about "erroneous reading" of his ruling and added: "It is simply wrong to suggest there is now some blanket restriction on reporting investigations."

BBC bosses said they are considering an appeal but Mr Justice Mann refused to give permission.

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He said BBC lawyers had not established that an appeal had a "real" chance of succeeding.

However the broadcaster could make a separate application to a Court of Appeal judge.