BBC boss should pay back public over Sir Cliff case - says MP

A Lancashire MP has called for the Director General of the BBC to personally reimburse licence fee payers over the Sir Cliff Richard case.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 19th July 2018, 9:37 am
Updated Thursday, 19th July 2018, 9:42 am
Sir Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard

Sir Cliff won damages of £210,000 from the BBC and South Yorkshire Police over coverage of a police raid on his house in 2014.

Coverage of the raid, which was nominated for a BBC award, was broadcast as part of a story into alleged historic child sex allegation – Sir Cliff was never arrested or charged.

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans, who has been a long-time campaigner for anonymity for criminal suspects up until charge, said: “I was thrilled to hear about Sir Cliff’s result at high court. "This is a real shift in direction and means that the media and police will think twice before releasing information to the public about the investigation of individuals.

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Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans

"However, it should never have come to this. It should have been clear to the BBC that broadcasting a live raid of a man’s home who had not been charged nor convicted was totally and utterly wrong. This case has gone to the very top and now Sir Cliff is rightfully entitled to £210,000 in damages which is coming directly from the pocket of the taxpayer.

"That is why I am calling for Tony Hall to voluntarily provide the damage payments from his own pocket.”

Continuing, Mr Evans said: “I will be contacting Tony Hall to question what changes he will make to BBC policy to ensure that we see no repeat of this. I have also written to the Prime Minister to ask for an investigation into anonymity before charge in cases such as these, what Cliff went through is unforgivable.”

It is estimated that Sir Cliff spent £4 million on fighting the case.

Fran Unsworth, Director of the News at the BBC, has apologised to Sir Cliff but states that the case marks a considerable shift in press freedoms and has vowed to appeal the decision.