The BBC has issued an apology to Sir Cliff Richard after broadcasting live coverage of a police raid on his home in 2014 concerned with cases of historic sex abuse, which were recently dismissed by the Crown Prosecution Service.
However, they have also stood by their original coverage, saying that the BBC “stands by the decision to report the investigation undertaken by the South Yorkshire Police and the search of his property.”
“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 Corporation said in a statement.
“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 the 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.”
However it appears that the apology will do little to assuage Sir Cliff, who told Susanna Reid today in an interview with Good Morning Britain that he felt “tarnished” by the accusations that were broadcast around the world, and would be campaigning for those accused but not charged of sexual abuse to have greater anonymity.
“It’s very difficult for me to explain to people what it felt like for me, being an innocent but having these vile accusations thrown at me,” he told Reid in the candid interview.
“In a way I still feel tarnished because ‘insufficient [evidence]’ suggests that maybe there’s something there. And I know there wasn’t.
“I have two years of traumatic emotional trauma to get over.”
Asked specifically about the BBC helicopter camera coverage of the police raid on his home, he added: “There must have been illegal collusion.
“I don’t think investigations take place with lighting and cameras, and you know, special angles for the helicopter. It just seemed ridiculous.
“I feel I have every right to sue […] for the gross invasion of my privacy.”