A judge has ordered the BBC to provide lawyers for Sir Cliff Richard with more information about the police source which tipped the broadcaster off about a sexual assault investigation.
The 76-year-old singer is suing the BBC for breach of privacy after it filmed police raiding his home as part of an investigation into an allegation of sexual assault.
- July 28, 2021
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Mr Justice Mann has ruled that BBC bosses must tell Sir Cliff whether the source of information was someone working on a wider Metropolitan Police inquiry into sex abuse allegations, an investigation codenamed Operation Yewtree.
Lawyers representing Sir Cliff wanted more detail about the source.
BBC bosses said they should not be forced to reveal more information.
Mr Justice Mann had analysed competing arguments at a preliminary High Court hearing in early May and has announced his decision in a written ruling.
The judge has said BBC bosses must provide a “proper answer” to the question Sir Cliff had asked about whether the source came from “within Operation Yewtree”.
Sir Cliff has sued the BBC over coverage of a raid at his apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014.
Lawyers representing the singer say he has suffered ”profound and long-lasting” damage.
BBC editors have said they will ”defend ourselves vigorously”.
A spokesman said the BBC had reported Sir Cliff’s ”full denial of the allegations at every stage”.
Lawyers have told how in late 2013 a man had made an allegation to the Metropolitan Police, saying he had been sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane football stadium, in Sheffield, when a child in 1985.
Metropolitan Police officers had passed the allegation to South Yorkshire Police in July 2014.
Sir Cliff had denied the allegation and in June 2016 prosecutors announced he would face no charges.
Mr Justice Mann has overseen a number of preliminary hearings.
Any trial is expected to take place next year.
Sir Cliff had also sued South Yorkshire Police.
The judge was last week told how that dispute had settled after the force agreed to pay the singer “substantial” damages.
Sir Cliff has alleged misuse of private information, infringement of his human right to respect for private life and a breach of data protection legislation.
Mr Justice Mann said the singer wanted to know whether the BBC’s source was from “within Operation Yewtree” or someone who had obtained information from Operation Yewtree.
He said he had weighed Sir Cliff’s rights to a fair trial against journalists’ rights to protect sources before reaching a decision.
“There is no real risk of the answer leading to the identification of the source,” said the judge.
“If (Sir Cliff’s) privacy rights have been invaded, he has a good case for saying that he needs the information in order to vindicate those rights.”
The judge added: “A fair trial, with the benefit of being able to argue that which can legitimately be argued, requires that the question be answered.”
He went on: “The BBC must provide a proper answer to the question posed.”