Sir Cliff Richard is to sue the BBC and South Yorkshire Police for £1 million over live coverage of a police raid at his home.
The entertainer is understood to have launched legal action alleging there was collusion between the broadcaster and the force that led to the search appearing on television.
Officers investigating allegations of historic sex offences were filmed searching Sir Cliff’s apartment in Berkshire in August 2014, leading to him being publicly named as part of the probe. The 75-year-old was never arrested or charged.
However, Sir Cliff said the “gross intrusion” into his privacy was the result of “illegal collusion” and the resulting fallout damaged his reputation and left him physically unwell.
According to the Daily Mail the £1 million claim reflects damage he suffered personally and commercially as a result of the episode.
It is understood Sir Cliff developed a cough which affected his touring schedule, an album release had to be delayed, sales of his popular calendars were affected and his winery business suffered.
Lawyers are understood to have written to the BBC and South Yorkshire Police to begin the litigation process.
The broadcaster, whose relationship with Sir Cliff stretches back decades, declined to comment. It previously said it was “very sorry” for causing the singer distress.
The Independent reported Sir Cliff had released a statement saying:
“I confirm that I have instructed my lawyers to make formal legal complaints to South Yorkshire Police and the BBC so that in the absence of satisfactory answers a Court will determine whether or not their behaviour was justified and proportionate. It is important not only for me personally but much more widely. My life was effectively turned upside down and my reputation, worldwide, was unnecessarily damaged. I would not want the same to happen to others whether in the public eye or not.
“Whilst the police of course need to properly investigate allegations made to them, it is clear to me that questions need to be answered by both the police and the BBC about their initial handling of my matter, which has rightly been condemned from so many quarters, including the Home Affairs Select Committee, the broader Press, and, even the Police themselves.
“I chose not to comment during the active investigation for obvious reasons, but having suffered the experience that I have, I firmly believe that privacy should be respected and that police guidelines are there to be followed. That means that save in exceptional circumstances people should never be named unless and until they are charged. As everybody has accepted there were no such ‘exceptional circumstances’ in my case.”
Last month the BBC issued an apology to Richards in which the broadcaster said it was “very sorry that Sir Cliff Richard, who has worked as a musician and performer for so many years with the organisation, has suffered distress”.
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