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Police complain to BBC over Cliff Richard investigation leak

By | Published on Monday 18 August 2014

Cliff Richard

South Yorkshire Police has complained to the BBC about its use of information regarding an investigation into sexual abuse allegations against Cliff Richard. The police force claims that the broadcaster broke its own editorial rules, following criticism from various quarters last week that the media seemed very well informed indeed about the raid on the pop star’s home, when Richard himself only new about it second hand after one of his reps saw news reports.

In a statement last week, South Yorkshire Police said: “The force was contacted some weeks ago by a BBC reporter who made it clear he knew of the existence of an investigation. It was clear he was in a position to publish it. The force was reluctant to cooperate but felt that to do otherwise would risk losing any potential evidence, so in the interests of the investigation it was agreed that the reporter would be notified of the date of the house search in return for delaying publication of any of the facts”.

It continued: “Contrary to media reports, this decision was not taken in order to maximise publicity, it was taken to preserve any potential evidence. South Yorkshire Police considers it disappointing that the BBC was slow to acknowledge that the force was not the source of the leak. A letter of complaint has been sent to the Director General of the BBC making it clear that the broadcasters appears to have contravened its editorial guidelines”.

In response, the BBC said in a statement: “A BBC journalist approached South Yorkshire Police with information about the investigation. The BBC agreed to follow normal journalistic practice and not to publish a story that might jeopardise a police inquiry”.

As previously reported, Cliff Richard’s Berkshire home was searched by police last week, in relations to allegations of the sexual assault of a boy under the age of sixteen at a Christian faith rally in 1985. The singer has denied the claims, saying that they are “completely false”, and adding that he will “co-operate fully” with the police investigation.