Sir Cliff Richard has sent the BBC a legal letter after the corporation’s News at Six broadcast archive footage of him with Jimmy Savile on Top of the Pops, according to a report.
The footage was shown last Thursday (February 25) during a report about Dame Janet Smith’s review of Savile’s catalogue of sexual abuse while working for the BBC. Savile can be heard saying Sir Cliff’s name in the clip.
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Richard, who is not mentioned in Dame Janet’s report, has been questioned by police on two occasions over historical sex allegations.
The singer denies the accusations.
According to the Sun newspaper, after the broadcast aired last week, lawyers for the 75-year-old singer wrote to the BBC claiming it was defamatory.
A BBC email entitled “early legal warning” reportedly states: “The libel complaint says the inclusion of archive footage of Jimmy Savile stating the words ‘Cliff Richard' is defamatory of Sir Cliff Richard, causing the viewer to believe that there were missed opportunities to the BBC to apprehend Cliff Richard for wrongdoing.”
The threat of legal action follows the controversy in August 2014 when the BBC aired live footage of police raiding the singer’s Berkshire home after a tip-off from the police.
The BBC’s coverage of the raid was nominated for scoop of the year at the Royal Television Society Television Journalism awards.
The police admitted afterwards that the raid carried out while Sir Cliff was on holiday in Portugal “may have caused unnecessary distress”.
In 2014, the Mail on Sunday reported that Sir Cliff was to sue the BBC for breach of privacy over coverage of the raid.
The BBC declined to comment and a spokesperson for Richard was unavailable for comment.