'˜Going in now, Dan', police texted BBC in '˜running commentary' on Cliff Richard raid

Sir Cliff RichardSir Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard claims police gave the BBC a 'running commentary' of a raid on his home, in legal papers outlining his £1.5 million court battle, it has emerged.

SIR CLIFF Richard has claimed that Yorkshire police officers and staff gave the BBC a “running commentary” during live TV coverage of a raid on his home.

The allegations surfaced in legal papers outlining the singer’s claim for aggravated damages from the broadcaster and South Yorkshire Police, following the 2014 raid.

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Sir Cliff was being investigated as part of the Jimmy Savile-inspired Operation Yewtree, over allegations by four people, concerning events between 1958 and 1983.

Earlier this year, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that after an £800,000 inquiry, no further action would be taken against Sir Cliff, who had always denied any wrongdoing.

Last week, the star told MPs and peers he feared he would be “forever tainted” by the accusations.

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The court papers appear to show that police press officer Lesley Card alerted BBC crime correspondent Dan Johnson to the raid at the singer’s home in Sunningdale, Berkshire.

Ms Card reportedly wrote in a text message: “Going in now, Dan.”

Later the reporter is said to have replied: “Give me a shout before they take anything out, so we can get the chopper in place for a shot.”

In the lawsuit, filed at the High Court on October 6, he reportedly says he was left feeling “publicly violated” by the alleged deal between the broadcaster and the police on the raid, and that the BBC added “insult to injury” by entering its coverage in a “Scoop of the Year” journalism contest.

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The 26-page document says Sir Cliff has spent more than £1 million on his lawsuit, and wants a “significant portion” of his legal costs paid and at least £200,000 in “aggravated damages”.

The papers, which allege that South Yorkshire Police contravened guidance on “relationships with the media”. also disclose that Mr Johnson arranged a meeting at force headquarters where he told the officer in charge of the case that he “knew everything”, effectively “strong-arming” them into giving the BBC access.

They say the furore forced Sir Cliff to delay the release of an album of “Rock ‘n’ Roll classics”.

Two months after the raid, a group of MPs branded the police’s handling of the affair “inept”, and in June this year, South Yorkshire Police apologised “wholeheartedly” for its conduct.

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But the BBC’s director-general Tony Hall defended the live coverage, saying he saw “nothing wrong in the BBC decision to run the story”.

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “The force has changed the way it deals with this type of media enquiry and has implemented the learning from this case and the subsequent review conducted by former chief constable Andy Trotter.”