Cliff Richard wins privacy case against the BBC

The broadcaster reported a police search of his home on live TV

Cliff Richard wins privacy case against the BBC

Singer Cliff Richard arrives at the Rolls Building in London for the continuing legal action against the BBC over coverage of a police raid at his apartment in Berkshire in August 2014 | Image: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire/PA Images

Update: 12.00

The BBC says it may appeal a ruling which saw singer Cliff Richard awarded 'substantial damages'.

He sued the broadcaster over television coverage of a police raid made on his home in August 2014.

The police were investigating historical allegations of sexual abuse, for which he was never arrested or charged.

He has been awarded at least stg£210,000 (€180,675) in damages - judges may decide he is entitled to more.

His fans burst into song outside court, with a rendition of 'Congratulations'.

But there were few words from the star himself.

Leaving court Richard said: "I can't really answer too many questions at the moment.

"It's going to take a little while for me to get over the whole emotional factor, so I hope you'll forgive me".

Live helicopter footage was broadcast from outside the entertainer's Berkshire home as the BBC reported the police search.

His legal team told the court it was a "gross invasion of his privacy" and the 77-year-old sustained "possibly permanent damage to his self-esteem, standing and reputation" as a result of the coverage.

The BBC had told the court its coverage of the story was in the public interest and said that its reporting was fair and accurate.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Cliff Richard giving evidence at the Rolls Building in London, where he is in a legal battle against the BBC | Image: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire/PA Images

It is thought the case could have broader ramifications for the freedom of the press and could potentially set a precedent for the ability of journalists to report on UK police investigations.

Fran Unsworth, director of BBC News and Current Affairs, said in a statement: "We are sorry for the distress that Sir Cliff has been through. We understand the very serious impact that this has had on him.

"We have thought long and hard about how we covered this story.

"On reflection there are things we would have done differently, however the judge has ruled that the very naming of Sir Cliff was unlawful.

"So even had the BBC not used helicopter shots or ran the story with less prominence, the judge would still have found that the story was unlawful; despite ruling that what we broadcast about the search was accurate."

BBC director of News and Current Affairs Francesca Unsworth | Image: BBC

She added: "This judgment creates new case law and represents a dramatic shift against press freedom and the long-standing ability of journalists to report on police investigations, which in some cases has led to further complainants coming forward.

"This impacts not just the BBC, but every media organisation.

"This isn't just about reporting on individuals. It means police investigations, and searches of people's homes, could go unreported and unscrutinised.

"It will make it harder to scrutinise the conduct of the police and we fear it will undermine the wider principle of the public's right to know.

"It will put decision-making in the hands of the police.

"We don't believe this is compatible with liberty and press freedoms; something that has been at the heart of this country for generations.

"For all of these reasons, there is a significant principle at stake. That is why the BBC is looking at an appeal."

South Yorkshire Police, who tipped off the BBC about the raid, has already paid £400,000 (€450,376) in damages to Richard in an out-of-court settlement.

Additional reporting: Jack Quann