A police raid at the home of veteran pop star Sir Cliff Richard has been described as inept by a group of MPs.
The home affairs select committee said South Yorkshire Police should not have tried to cut a deal with a BBC reporter who approached them about the story.
The committee’s report looked into how the BBC obtained advanced knowledge of the raid in Berkshire on 14 August.
South Yorkshire Police said its actions were well intended but admitted they were “ultimately flawed”.
Sir Cliff denies an alleged historical offence of sexual assault at a religious event in Sheffield in 1985.
The committee said police sometimes decided to publicise the name of the subject of an investigation for operational reasons – for example, to encourage potential witnesses to come forward, but it was wrong to do so otherwise.
The MPs said that when the BBC journalist approached South Yorkshire Police about the story ahead of the raid in Sunningdale, the force should have contacted senior BBC executives to explain how any premature publication could have damaged the investigation.
BBC director general Lord Hall confirmed to the committee that the broadcaster would act on such requests from chief constables, the report said.
The committee said that without such an approach the BBC was well within its rights to run the story – although Sir Cliff had “suffered enormous, irreparable damage to his reputation” as a result.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: “South Yorkshire Police’s handling of this situation was utterly inept. The force allowed itself to hand over sensitive information to a journalist and granted him privileged access to the execution of a search warrant.
“The email exchanges could easily be mistaken for a script from The Bill. The force should have refused to co-operate …read more
Source:: BBC Entertainment