Tip-off to BBC on Cliff Richard raid was 'corrupt'
Published 20/08/2014 | 02:30
BRITISH Police may have acted corruptly or breached ethical standards by giving the BBC advance notice of a raid on Cliff Richard's home, a former policing minister has said.
Nick Herbert said that South Yorkshire police and the BBC had "serious questions to answer" after the corporation filmed a raid on the star's home in Berkshire.
He said it was hard to believe the person who had initially "tipped off" the BBC was not connected to the inquiry, adding that they may have acted in an "ethically wrong" or corrupt way.
Tony Hall, the Director-General of the BBC, and David Crompton, the chief executive of South Yorkshire Police, have been summoned to appear before MPs to explain how BBC knew about the raid. The corporation has so far received 480 complaints over its coverage of the raid on the singer's home, which included helicopter footage of officers arriving at the flat in Berkshire and images of police inside searching the singer's possessions.
Richard (73), has been accused of molesting a young boy at a Billy Graham rally in 1985, which he strongly denies. South Yorkshire Police have said it was approached by the BBC weeks before the planned raid and, fearing the broadcaster would jeopardise the investigation if it ran a story about it, decided to cooperate by agreeing to give the BBC advance warning of the date of the search.
However, Mr Herbert, the Conservative MP for Arudnel, said serious errors of judgment had been made and that Richard should not have been named prior to an arrest or charge.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "And I think there are serious questions to answer both on the part of the police about how this information got into the public domain, but also by the BBC for its editorial judgment in the way it then interacted with the police and decided that it was appropriate, for instance, to send a helicopter and film these events."
He added: "If South Yorkshire Police say that it was not them that tipped off the BBC, something the BBC has confirmed, then I accept that. But somebody tipped off the BBC and it's difficult to believe that that wasn't somebody who was in some way connected with these investigations. So it might have been another force.
"If that person provided information to the BBC for payment, then that is corruption," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)