What a victory for Sir Cliff Richard, who had sued the BBC over their broadcast of a South Yorkshire Police raid on his home back in August 2014. Officers were investigating an allegation by a man who claimed he was sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff back in 1985 when still a child. The BBC had filmed from a helicopter in order to gain footage of the raid, which Mr Justice Mann said was an infringement of Sir Cliff’s privacy rights in a ‘serious and sensationalist’ way. The judge added that people who are suspects in police investigations are entitled to reasonably expect that the matter would remain private.
This all took place at the height of the Jimmy Savile scandal. Celebrities and MPs were being outed as paedophiles left, right and centre, and I expect the man bringing the allegations was hoping for a huge compensation payout, but nothing incriminating was ever found at Sir Cliff’s flat. The flat was sold straight away as he could not bear to live there anymore. His solicitor said that Sir Cliff’s motivation behind the litigation was not for personal gain, but to right a wrong. This is just as well, as he spent £4m on the case to receive just £210,000 in damages. His career has taken a nosedive, and I expect the taint will never actually go away. People will always wonder whether there was any truth in the man’s allegations, but only two people know for sure – Sir Cliff and the man in question.
This is one of the disadvantages of being a wealthy celebrity. People can smell the money and want some of it for themselves. Some unscrupulous types will fabricate all sorts of crimes just to win compensation. In these cases, the only ones who really win at the end of the day are the lawyers.
Was it Donald Trump who coined the phrase ‘Lawyering up‘?