A friend of Sir Cliff Richard said the musician was left ‘like skin and bones’ after a sex assault claim, a High Court judge was told today.
Television presenter Gloria Hunniford told the judge Sir Cliff, 77, seemed ‘utterly distraught’ after seeing the footage.
Ms Hunniford outlined her concerns in a written witness statement given during the trial and said she ‘could not believe what she was seeing’ when watching the report.
Sir Cliff is suing the BBC for ‘substantial damages’ over its coverage and said the report left him feeling ‘forever tainted’.
Sir Cliff Richard today gave reporters and photographers a thumbs up when he arrived at the High Court on Tuesday
Sir Cliff (pictured today) has already said how the BBC’s coverage was a ‘very serious invasion’ of his privacy
Ms Hunniford said: ‘I could not believe what I was seeing. He (Sir Cliff) is a gentle and kind soul and I was extremely worried about how he would be reacting.’
She added: ‘He seemed utterly distraught that the search and allegations against him had been broadcast so widely around the world, and about what everyone must be thinking about him.
‘When I gave him a hug, he had lost so much weight that he felt like skin and bones.’
Ms Hunniford said she had seen Sir Cliff in recent months and added: ‘He seems more his old self and is looking a lot better.
‘However, he cannot stop talking about how violated and betrayed he feels about the BBC decision to broadcast the police search of his apartment and create the media storm that ensued.’
The court also heard the BBC reported who covered the story of the raid in Sunningdale, Berkshire, boasted about his ‘bonkers but brilliant’ day.
Dan Johnson texted the head of corporate communications at South Yorkshire Police after the corporation’s story about the music star’s home being searched.
Carrie Goodwin replied to his message and said she was getting ‘lots of grief from the media’ because ‘everyone thinks we tipped you off’.
Details of messages between Mr Johnson and Ms Goodwin emerged as Mr Justice Mann analysed evidence during the latest stage of the High Court trial in London.
Sir Cliff’s lawyers also today suggested that the details of a sex assault claim were from a ‘tainted’ police source.
A tearful Sir Cliff Richard has told the court that seeing the footage was like ‘watching burglars’ going through his belongings
Sir Cliff told the High Court that the coverage was a ‘very serious invasion’ of his privacy
Sir Cliff’s lawyers today told Mr Justice Mann the information about a sex assault allegation came from someone connected to a wider Metropolitan Police inquiry into sex abuse allegations, an investigation codenamed Operation Yewtree.
Justice Rushbrooke QC, who led Sir Cliff’s legal team, said lawyers knew ‘for a fact’ that ‘Yewtree was the source’.
They suggested that the journalist who obtained the information must have known that it had been ‘improperly’ released by someone involved in a ‘highly sensitive’ police operation and said the source was ‘tainted’.
The court also heard South Yorkshire Police carried out an ‘astonishingly long’ investigation into Sir Cliff, one of the singer’s lawyers told Mr Justice Mann.
The judge had heard that Sir Cliff waited around two years before learning that he would face no charges.
Solicitor Paul Morris told the judge on Tuesday: ‘I thought it was astonishingly long. I have been doing these cases for 20 years. To me it was astonishing.’
Jonathan Munro (pictured), Head of BBC Newsgathering, also attended the trial at the High Court
Mr Justice Mann heard that South Yorkshire Police also agreed to pay Sir Cliff £400,000 after settling a claim he brought against the force.
The singer had initially sued the BBC and South Yorkshire Police after complaining about coverage of the raid, which followed a sexual assault allegation.
Lawyers told the court how a man made an allegation to Scotland Yard in 2013 claiming he was sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff.
The man said he was assaulted during an event featuring evangelist Billy Graham at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane football stadium in Sheffield, when he was a child in 1985.
Metropolitan Police officers passed the allegation to South Yorkshire Police in July 2014.
Sir Cliff denied the allegation and in June 2016 prosecutors announced that he would face no charges.
A BBC spokesman has said that the BBC had reported Sir Cliff’s ‘full denial of the allegations at every stage’.
Sir Cliff has said seeing coverage of the search at his apartment nearly four years ago was like ‘watching burglars’ going through his belongings.
He has taken legal action over BBC coverage of the police search, which was staged after a sex assault allegation, and wants damages at ‘top end’ of the scale.
Sir Cliff says the coverage was a ‘very serious invasion’ of his privacy.
He said he felt that his name had been ‘smeared’ all over the world, he said his health had suffered, he said he had never lived in the apartment again because it had become ‘contaminated’, and he said he wanted a public declaration that what the BBC did was ‘wrong’.
The BBC disputes his claims. Bosses say coverage of the search was accurate and in good faith.