Sir Cliff and the BBC agree to ceasefire in damages court case

SIR Cliff Richard and the BBC have agreed to pause a High Court fight in the hope that a settlement can be reached.

Sir Cliff has sued the BBC over reports naming him as a suspected sex offender. Picture: PA
Sir Cliff has sued the BBC over reports naming him as a suspected sex offender. Picture: PA

The singer has sued over reports naming him as a suspected sex offender.

He says his right to respect for his private life was infringed and wants “very substantial” damages.

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Lawyers representing all sides told a judge yesterday that parties had agreed to a one-month ceasefire so negotiations could take place.

Mr Justice Mann, who has been overseeing the latest in a series of preliminary hearings at the High Court in London, indicated that he would review the position in the near future.

The singer has taken legal action against the BBC and South Yorkshire Police over coverage of a raid at his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014. His lawyers say he suffered “profound and long-lasting” harm and should get damages.

BBC editors have said they will “defend ourselves vigorously”.

A spokeswoman said the BBC had reported Sir Cliff’s “full denial of the allegations at every stage’’. South Yorkshire Police have apologised “wholeheartedly for the additional anxiety caused” by their “initial handling of the media interest” in its investigation into the singer.

Lawyers say in late 2013 a man told the Metropolitan Police he had been sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground when a child in 1985.

Metropolitan Police passed the allegation to South Yorkshire Police in July 2014. Sir Cliff denied the allegation “as soon as it was brought to his attention” and last June prosecutors announced that he would face no charges.

Earlier the judge said he had decided to say nothing about the size of legal bills run up by Sir Cliff during the court damages fight.

On Thursday lawyers for the BBC criticised the singer over his spending on lawyers.

They claimed that figures showed that Sir Cliff had already run up legal costs of more than £800,000.

The BBC could be ordered to pick up his lawyers’ bills if it loses the battle and bosses had invited Mr Justice Mann, who is overseeing the litigation, to “record” his views.

But yesterday Mr Justice Mann told lawyers representing both sides: “I am not minded to make any particular remarks about the level of costs.”