The bbc is very sorry that Sir Cliff Richard, who has worked as a musician and performer for so many years with the organisation, has suffered distress.
The BBC’s responsibility is 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, which is why they have been reported by all news organisations in this country.
Once the South Yorkshire Police had confirmed the investigation and Sir Cliff Richard’s identity and informed the bbc of the timing and details of the search of his property, it would neither have been editorially responsible nor in the public interest to choose not to report fully the investigation into Sir Cliff Richard because of his public profile.
The BBC, at every stage, reported Sir Cliff’s full denial of the allegations.
The BBC, therefore, stands by the decision to report the investigation undertaken by the South Yorkshire Police and the search of his property.
Sir Cliff has made the argument that the identity of people under investigation into historic allegations should not be made public until they are charged. This view raises significant questions about the scrutiny of the Police and public confidence that allegations are investigated. That said, we respect the fact that he is making an important statement in the debate over balancing privacy rights with the public interest. Ultimately, though, deciding whether people should remain anonymous while the subject of a Police investigation is a matter for Parliament.
The Home Affairs Select Committee reviewed the editorial decisions made by the bbc and concluded, “we see nothing wrong in their decision to run the story”.