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Ex attorney general questions handling of Cliff Richard case

The former attorney general Dominic Grieve has questioned South Yorkshire Police's handling of the sex offence investigation into Sir Cliff Richard as “odd” and “very questionable,” reports The Telegraph.

Mr Grieve has accused the force of colluding with the BBC in allowing the search of Sir Cliff’s home in Berkshire on Thursday to be filmed by the broadcaster as it was taking place.

The driveway leading to the estate in Sunningdale, Berkshire, which houses Sir Cliff Richard's apartment. Credit: Aisling Ennis/PA Wire

South Yorkshire Police is investigating an allegation that the singer sexually assaulted a boy at a concert in Sheffield almost 30 years ago. Sir Cliff has described the claim as "completely false." He learned of the search of his apartment only when the BBC broadcast pictures of the operation..

Dominic Grieve, who left the cabinet last month, is the most senior politician to call into question the decision by South Yorkshire Police to tell the BBC when the search was going to take place.

“I can see that police might not want to warn somebody about a search because they fear a suspect will destroy the evidence. But it was much odder to tip off the BBC that they were carrying out the raid. That seems quite extraordinary... “Unless the police can show the sound public reason for doing that, it suggests a collusive relationship with the BBC which is very odd.

– Dominic Grieve, speaking to The Telegraph

Meanwhile the same newspaper is reporting that Keith Vaz MP, the chairman of the powerful House of Commons home affairs select committee, is to write to David Crompton, South Yorkshire's chief constable, to demand an explanation of the force's actions, saying “serious questions need to be asked” about the way it had handled the matter.

South Yorkshire Police says it did not leak information to the BBC, but instead agreed to tell a BBC reporter of the date that Sir Cliff's house would be searched in return for the BBC delaying publication of any of the facts. The force says the BBC reporter had contacted South Yorkshire Police some weeks earlier making it clear he knew of the existence of the investigation and although the force was reluctant to co-operate, it did so in order to preserve the integrity of its inquiry.

BBC defends its role in Cliff Richard raid

The BBC has defended itself against claims by South Yorkshire Police that it breached its own editorial guidelines in its reporting of the search of Sir Cliff Richard's house by detectives investigating an allegation of a sex offence against a boy in Sheffield in the 1980s.

Both the broadcaster and the force have faced criticism from Sir Cliff and a number of MPs about the presence of BBC News cameras outside the property in Sunningdale, Berkshire, even before the police searches began.

South Yorkshire Police says it did not leak information to the BBC, but instead agreed to tell a BBC reporter of the date that Sir Cliff's house would be searched in return for the BBC delaying publication of any of the facts. The force says the BBC reporter had contacted South Yorkshire Police some weeks earlier making it clear he knew of the existence of the investigation and although the force was reluctant to co-operate, it did so in order to preserve the integrity of its inquiry.

Tonight the BBC reported the following statement from one of its own spokespeople.

"A BBC journalist approached South Yorkshire Police with information about the investigation. The BBC agreed to follow normal journalistic practice and not to publish a story that might jeopardise a police inquiry."

– BBC spokesperson

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South Yorks Police complain to BBC over Cliff Richard

South Yorkshire Police has complained to the BBC about its reporting of the Sir Cliff Richard sex offence inquiry. The force has written to the director general of the BBC saying it believes the broadcaster has "contravened its editorial guidelines."

Sir Cliff Richard Credit: Press Association

BBC News crews were outside Sir Cliff's house in Sunningdale before officers from South Yorkshire Police began their searches there on Thursday. The broadcaster broke news of the police operation on its lunchtime bulletins. Since then, Sir Cliff and a number of MPs and prominent lawyers have criticised the involvement of the media.

South Yorkshire Police insists it did not leak information to the BBC, but instead agreed to tell a BBC reporter of the date that Sir Cliff's house would be searched in return for the BBC delaying publication of any of the facts. The force says the BBC reporter had contacted South Yorkshire Police some weeks earlier making it clear he knew of the existence of the investigation and although the force was reluctant to co-operate, it did so in order to preserve the integrity of its inquiry.

"The force was contacted some weeks ago by a BBC reporter who made it clear he knew of the existence of an investigation. It was clear he in a position to publish it. The force was reluctant to co-operate but felt that to do otherwise would risk losing any potential evidence, so in the interests of the investigation it was agreed that the reporter would be notified of the date of the house search in return for delaying publication of any of the facts. Contrary to media reports, this decision was not taken in order to maximise publicity, it was taken to preserve any potential evidence. South Yorkshire Police considers it disappointing that the BBC was slow to acknowledge that the force was not the source of the leak. A letter of complaint has been sent to the Director General of the BBC making it clear that the broadcaster appears to have contravened its editorial guidelines.

South Yorkshire Police would welcome an investigation into the original leak. Finally we want to stress that this is an ongoing and complex investigation and we are in the process of gathering evidence. This is likely to take some time and we would caution against any reporting which may be prejudicial. This is in the interests of all parties."

– Statement, South Yorkshire Police
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MPs join 'Grantham Style' campaign for pro-Thatcher hit

Tory MPs have joined a campaign to get an obscure punk record about Baroness Thatcher to rival 'Ding Dong The Witch is Dead' at the top of the music charts.

Former MP Louise Mensch urged Thatcher supporters to buy the 1979 track 'I'm in Love with Margaret Thatcher' by the Notsensibles, using the 'Grantham Style' hashtag:

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Ding Dong song enters Irish Top 40

Controversy over Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead has spread to Ireland, where the song has soared into the charts.

The Judy Garland track today became the oldest recording ever to enter the Irish weekly top 40, as it premiered at number 33.

It is one of a number of versions of the song making sales in Ireland since the death of Baroness Thatcher.

RTE, Ireland's state broadcaster, said it will not ban the song.

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BBC DG: Wrong to ban Ding Dong song 'outright'

BBC director general Tony Hall said an outright ban of the Ding Dong record on Radio 1's chart show would have given the track more publicity:

I understand the concerns about this campaign. I personally believe it is distasteful and inappropriate. However, I do believe it would be wrong to ban the song outright as free speech is an important principle and a ban would only give it more publicity.

I have spoken at some length with the Director of Radio Graham Ellis and Radio 1 Controller Ben Cooper.

We have agreed that we won't be playing the song in full, rather treating it as a news story and playing a short extract to put it in context.

– Tony Hall
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Ding Dong record currently at No. 3 in charts

The song from the Wizard of Oz has sold thousands of copies since the death of Baroness Thatcher Credit: Reuters

The Ding Dong song from the Wizard of Oz was at number three in the UK charts this morning but could still take top spot.

The record has sold about 12,000 fewer copies than the current chart-topper Need U (100%) by Duke Dumont, with the final sales coming in at midnight tomorrow.

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Buying anti-Thatcher Ding Dong song 'very cathartic'

Mark Biddiss, who started a social media campaign to get Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead to number one in the charts, said buying the song was "a very cathartic experience for a lot of people who feel that for many years they haven't been listened to".

He was joined on ITV's Daybreak by former Conservative MP Jonathan Aitken who said the song, which is on course for a place in the top five in Sunday's Offical Chart, was a "pretty feeble form of protest".

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Ding Dong song 'poses dilemma for Director General'

'Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead' has jumped to number four in the charts after anti-Thatcher campaigners adopted the song as their anthem in the days following the former Prime Minister's death.

Tony Hall started the £450,000-per-year post at the helm of the BBC last week Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

Director General Tony Hall is quoted as saying that while he thinks the campaign to make the song top the charts is "rather tasteless," the choice of whether to play the song on air is for news editors to make.

Supporters of Margaret Thatcher, including former Conservative treasurer Lord McAlpine, have expressed outrage that the possibility is even being considered, saying it is a matter of taste.

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