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Police 'strong-armed' over Sir Cliff

Press Association logoPress Association 1/03/2017 By Brian Farmer

South Yorkshire Police say they were "strong-armed" into giving a BBC reporter information about an investigation into Sir Cliff Richard, a High Court judge has heard.

The BBC denied the allegation, Mr Justice Mann was told.

Sir Cliff has sued the BBC - and South Yorkshire Police - over reports naming him as a suspected sex offender.

BBC editors have said they will ''defend ourselves vigorously''.

Detail of rival claims emerged at a preliminary hearing before Mr Justice Mann at the High Court in London on Wednesday where the singer was not present.

Sir Cliff has taken legal action against the BBC and South Yorkshire Police in the wake of coverage of a raid at his apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014.

Lawyers representing Sir Cliff said - in written submissions - in October that he had suffered ''profound and long-lasting'' damage.

They say he has sold the apartment which was raided because the prospect of living somewhere which had been ''so publicly violated'' distressed him.

They say the furore threw his ''creative and business plans'' into disarray - and forced him to delay the release of an album of ''rock 'n' roll classics''.

And they say he has run up huge lawyers' bills.

In December a BBC spokeswoman said bosses would defend coverage.

''As we have said on several occasions, we are very sorry that Sir Cliff Richard has suffered distress,'' she said.

''However, we have now submitted our response to this claim and will defend ourselves vigorously.''

She added: ''It is the BBC's responsibility 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.''

The spokeswoman said ''at every stage'' the BBC had reported Sir Cliff's ''full denial of the allegations''.

In June, South Yorkshire Police apologised ''wholeheartedly for the additional anxiety caused'' to Sir Cliff by the force's ''initial handling of the media interest'' in its investigation into the singer.

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