Cliff Richard is suing the BBC and South Yorkshire Police for £1m ($1.29m) over live coverage of a police raid at his home. The star is taking legal action against the network for colluding with the force, and broadcasting the raid on television.
The BBC had filmed officers entering Sir Cliff's apartment in Berkshire in August 2014, during an investigation into historic child abuse. It had been alleged that the singer had abused a young boy, and other children, in the 1980s. The star had been publicly named as part of the probe, but was not arrested or charged.
The case was dismissed by the Crown Prosecution Service on grounds of insufficient evidence in June. Both the BBC and South Yorkshire Police have apologised to the entertainer. Sir Cliff was furious at the 'grotesque' intrusion and how his name was made public before he had even been interviewed.
The 75-year-old said the "gross intrusion" into his privacy was the result of "illegal collusion" and the £1m claim reflects damage he suffered personally and commercially as a result of the episode, which damaged his reputation and left him physically unwell.
Sir Cliff reportedly developed a cough he believes was brought on by stress, which affected his touring schedule. His album release had been delayed as a result of the investigation, and sales of his popular calendars and wine business suffered.
Lawyers, fans, friends and politicians criticised the BBC over its broadcast of the raid, which was filmed by cameramen in a helicopter hovering above the Berkshire mansion, filming through windows showing police officers searching the star's belongings.
Lawyers are understood to have written to the BBC and South Yorkshire Police to begin the litigation process, according to the Mail on Sunday.
A source told the paper that the legal claim will reflect the "damage to him personally, to his reputation, and from a corporate point of view", adding: "It's had a knock-on effect to commercial interests and he has led his life very differently over the last two years for no real reason."
Star of the BBC
Sir Cliff's association with the BBC goes back to the start of his career. He appeared on the first episode of Top Of The Pops in 1964.
"I do feel that they (the BBC) owe me something… Somebody has to teach them a lesson and if it's done by suing, let's do it. And the same with South Yorkshire Police. They have damaged me in a great way," Sir Cliff said to the Daily Mail last month.
The BBC and the South Yorkshire Police have a month to respond to Cliff's lawyer's letters. Unless they both back down and admit to invading Sir Cliff's privacy without justification, his lawyers will lodge a claim with the High Court. "It could very well be a case that sets a precedent," said the source.
The sides could reach a settlement, but Sir Cliff is said to be determined to have his day in court.
Sir Cliff, along with Paul Gambaccini and Nigel Evans MP, are campaigning to change laws to protect the anonymity of individuals accused of sexual assault and rape. The singer, broadcaster and politician met in Surrey last weekend to discuss plans to set up a victims support group, to highlight "the unnecessary pain and suffering" felt by those wrongly accused, and to campaign for anonymity for sexual assault defendants before charge.