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Cliff Richard case: Police assisted BBC 'too much'

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The former head of South Yorkshire Police has said never in his "wildest dreams" did he imagine that the BBC would cover the force's inquiry into Sir Cliff Richard, in the way it did. David Crompton told the High Court his force had assisted the BBC "too much" after sharing the date and time of the search at Sir Cliff's Berkshire home. Sir Cliff is suing the BBC for naming him and broadcasting helicopter images.The BBC says its report of the 2014 inquiry was in the public interest.But Sir Cliff says broadcasting the images of the search of his home was a "very serious invasion" of privacy.
The 77-year-old, who denied an historical sexual assault allegation, was not arrested or charged as the result of the South Yorkshire Police investigation.
'Shotgun wedding'
Giving evidence on Thursday, Mr Crompton, who was the force's chief constable at the time, told Mr Justice Mann he was expecting "limited footage" to be shown of police officers entering Sir Cliff's property, but "nothing more than that". He said he thought the helicopter footage was "disproportionate". It was his view, he went on, that there was a "running commentary" between BBC reporter Dan Johnson and the South Yorkshire Police press officer, Lesley Card - who was at the property during the search. He told Judge Mann he thought this was "assisting the BBC too much"."We told them the time and date of search. This... was too much," he added.Representing the BBC, Gavin Millar QC, put it to Mr Crompton that South Yorkshire Police wanted television coverage of the search. "We were put in a difficult position," Mr Crompton replied. "I considered it to be of paramount importance that we were able to complete an unhindered and untainted investigation and one might say the relationship with the BBC became a shotgun wedding."
David Crompton was Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police at the time of the inquiry
Mr Crompton added: "We should be able to complete the investigation without it being compromised."I did not want the TV coverage... this was, in effect, the price to pay."Never did I imagine in my wildest dreams the BBC would do what they did. I've not seen coverage like this ever in my police career."Mr Crompton said he "fundamentally disagreed" with the notion that he wanted to show his force pro-actively investigating a prominent suspect. Mr Millar put it to him that in the days following the coverage, he made it in his interest to say the force was blackmailed by the BBC. Mr Crompton disagreed. In 2014 South Yorkshire Police searched Sir Cliff's flat in Sunningdale, Berkshire while investigating an allegation the singer sexually assaulted a boy under the age of 16 in Sheffield in 1985.In June 2016 it was announced he would not face any charges.Sir Cliff has said the coverage "smeared" his name. He is suing the BBC over the misuse of private information and breaking data protection rules.The BBC disputes his allegations and says the BBC report on the police inquiry was in the public interest.South Yorkshire Police has settled its own case with Sir Cliff by paying him
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