As published in The Daily Mail
Cliff ‘left in the dark’ over child abuse probe
Sir Cliff Richard has been left ‘completely in the dark’ by detectives investigating claims of historic child abuse, it emerged last night.
Despite police publicly stating they want to speak to the star, he has yet to be contacted since the search of his home was beamed live around the world by the BBC on Thursday.
Sources close to Sir Cliff said he did not want to start a war of words’ over the handling of his case but is understood to be growing increasingly upset with his treatment.
The latest development came as stars, politicians and a policing standards body spoke out against the way the case had been handled. Former BBC journalist Sir Michael Parkinson, 79, last night said the singer was the victim of a witch hunt’.
Amid farcical scenes, Sir Cliff has been left in cruel limbo’ since police swooped on his £3million Berkshire home in front of BBC cameras as he holidayed in Portugal.
South Yorkshire Police has said detectives want to speak to the 73-year-old over an allegation of sexual abuse on a boy under 16 at a Christian rally in 1985.
But the singer has yet to hear from police, has not been formally approached for interview and knows nothing of the allegation – nor who his accuser is, his spokesman said.
Yesterday Sir Cliff enjoyed tennis in the sunshine as an extraordinary row erupted over the BBC’s coverage of the police raid.
A source close to the star, who has dismissed the allegations as completely false’, said: He has been left completely in the dark about what is happening. There has been no formal request for an interview and no phone call from police since this all started on Thursday.’
Smiling and apparently relaxed, Sir Cliff appeared in good spirits as he also enjoyed a dinner party with friends at his Algarve vineyard.
Meanwhile in South Yorkshire, Chief Constable David Crompton faced blistering criticism over the force’s handling of the case. Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve suggested the force may had contravened police guidelines which say suspects should not be named before being charged unless doing so serves a policing purpose’ such as protecting the public.
He said: They have not arrested him or charged him. All they have done is carry out a search of his house so why have they notified the BBC so it could film this taking place? It is very questionable.’
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, is writing to the chief constable to demand an explanation.
Former shadow home secretary David Davis added: The extraordinary decision by the leadership of South Yorkshire police to allow the searching of Sir Cliff Richard’s house to be televised, like some morally challenged reality TV show, demonstrates there is something sick at the heart of Britain’s police and justice system.’
Investigative journalist and former detective Mark Williams-Thomas, the first to receive the allegations in 2012 when the alleged victim contacted him after his documentary exposing Jimmy Savile, said: I am very disappointed at how South Yorkshire Police have handled the investigation.’
Meanwhile, South Yorkshire has written an official letter of complaint to Director-General Lord Tony Hall amid suggestions detectives were virtually blackmailed into cooperating with the broadcaster.
The force said it reluctantly agreed to work with’ the BBC after being contacted weeks ago by a reporter who had found out about the investigation. It was agreed the reporter would be notified of the date of the house search in return for delaying publication of any of the facts’, it said in a statement.
The force was reluctant to cooperate but felt to do otherwise would risk losing any potential evidence. The broadcasters appear to have contravened editorial guidelines.’ Police also called for an inquiry into how the leak reached the BBC.
The College of Policing, the professional body that sets standards, said if the leak to the BBC was an unauthorised police disclosure it would contravene the code of ethics.
The college’s chief executive, Chief Constable Alex Marshall, said: The presence of a BBC film crew at the scene of a police search, usually a closely guarded secret, has attracted understandable attention.’ Last night Sir Michael Parkinson told ITV News: I think the BBC did create an error in judgment… in reacting to the story in a kind of way that would have done the red tops credit.’
Top human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC accused officers of treating Cliff Richard as though he were a bank robber or a mass murderer’ then leaving the star in cruel limbo’.
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright also launched a probe.
His spokesman said: Questions need to be answered as to the original source of the leak, which put the force in a difficult position when approached by the media.’
Yesterday the BBC said: The BBC agreed to follow normal journalistic practice and not to publish a story that might jeopardise a police inquiry.’