THE POLICE investigation into veteran singer Sir Cliff Richard has “increased significantly in size” since its inception and involves “more than one allegation”, South Yorkshire’s Chief Constable has revealed.
David Crompton said the “expanding nature” of the investigation meant he could not give a date when it would be concluded.
In a letter to Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Mr Crompton said the force was in regular contact with Sir Cliff’s lawyers.
In his letter, Mr Crompton said: “South Yorkshire Police detectives are in very regular contact with Sir Cliff Richard’s lawyers. Typically this involves a verbal update about once a fortnight.
“We have not written directly to Sir Cliff Richard. It is the responsibility of his lawyers to ensure he is fully briefed on the conversations which have taken place with investigators.
“This is an investigation which has increased significantly in size since its inception. Sir Cliff Richard’s lawyers are aware that there is more than one allegation.”
He added: “In view of the expanding nature of the investigation, it would be premature and potentially misleading to predict a likely date when it will be concluded; however, we are progressing as swiftly as possible.”
Two paragraphs of the letter from Mr Crompton were blacked out before being released.
The letter was released the day after an independent report concluded that an agreement between the BBC and police which led to a raid on Sir Cliff’s home being broadcast live around the world “certainly interfered with his privacy and may well have caused unnecessary distress”.
A former chief constable said South Yorkshire Police should never have a made a deal with the broadcaster - a decision taken after BBC reporter Dan Johnson went to the force saying he knew they were investigating the veteran entertainer.
In his report, Andy Trotter said: “The search at Sir Cliff Richard’s apartment, and the nature of the allegation, generated considerable publicity across the world, certainly interfered with his privacy and may well have caused unnecessary distress.”
He said: “Whatever the motivation and good intentions of those involved from SYP, the outcome has been bad publicity for the force, the Chief Constable being summoned to HASC (Home Affairs Select Committee), criticism from the media and politicians, complaints from the public, abuse on social media and a public spat with the BBC.
“More importantly, people have seen a search on Sir Cliff Richards’s apartment unfold on television with details of a serious allegation put into the public domain prior to him being interviewed by the police.
“The force can argue that the search was carried out successfully and there was no interference to the investigation that the threat of prior publication was avoided. That is true but at considerable cost to the reputation of the force which could have been avoided by the individuals concerned.”
Mr Trotter’s report was ordered by former South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Shaun Wright after detectives searched the 74-year-old star’s Berkshire apartment in August while film crews from the corporation, including one in a helicopter, caught the event on camera.
It was released by the PCC’s office following a Freedom of Information request.
Following the raid, Sir Cliff was interviewed by detectives investigating a claim of a sex crime involving a young boy, but was not arrested or charged.
The report concluded that South Yorkshire Police should not have confirmed “highly sensitive and confidential” details to the BBC or facilitated a meeting between a senior detective and a corporation reporter.
In October MPs on the Home Affairs Committee branded South Yorkshire Police “inept” over their handling of the event and said the force should have refused to co-operate with the BBC.
The Home Affairs Select Committee also criticised the BBC for its decision not to allow reporter Mr Johnson to appear before them.
A statement from Sir Cliff’s lawyers at the time said the coverage caused “immeasurable harm” to the star.