Officer reveals why he told BBC about Cliff Richard raid

Ex-South Yorkshire detective superintendent Matthew Fenwick said he felt obliged do a deal with reporter Dan Johnson in order to stop him publishing details of the investigation ahead of the raid, potentially “compromising the investigation”.

The police were show searching Sir Cliff's apartment in Berkshire
Image:The police were shown searching Sir Cliff’s apartment in Berkshire

It is the third day of the hearing in which the 77-year-old singer is seeking damages against the BBC in London’s High Court over coverage of a police search on his penthouse apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, in August 2014.

The search was part of an investigation into a historical child sex abuse allegation.

Officer reveals why he told BBC about Cliff Richard raid
Officer reveals why he told BBC about Cliff Richard raid

Mr Fenwick said Mr Johnson had “clearly stated” he had information from Operation Yewtree – the Met Police investigation into sexual abuse allegations launched in 2012 – and would publish it immediately unless he worked with him.

Cliff Richard broke down in court

Video:Sir Cliff breaks down in tears as he gives evidence during the BBC hearing

With that in mind, Mr Fenwick said he came to an arrangement to notify the reporter when the force “was ready to take further action” in order to avoid the investigation being prejudiced by the publication of a story ahead of the raid.

Mr Fenwick said he also feared premature disclosure of the raid may give Sir Cliff the opportunity to dispose of any evidence, as well as having a negative impact on the victim.

The former officer rubbished claims that appeared in the media that the police brought in the BBC to maximise coverage of their search, calling them “ridiculous”.

Sir Cliff was supported by Gloria Hunniford
Image:Sir Cliff, pictured here with Gloria Hunniford, told the court he felt ‘forever tainted’

He was unable to explain why the raid warrant made provision for “civilian media” personnel to accompany the search and enter the property.

Sir Cliff broke down in tears last week as he gave evidence over the “shocking and upsetting” BBC coverage which he said would “forever taint” him.

The singer also said he was so upset by the coverage he thought he was “going to have a heart attack or a stroke”.

The BBC claim they accurately reported the raid in good faith, and said it was “a matter of legitimate public interest”.

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Sir Cliff denied all allegations against him and in June 2016 prosecutors announced the singer would face no charges.

The High Court hearing is due to last 10 days.

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