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South Yorkshire Police branded 'inept' over Cliff raid

MPs have launched another blistering attack on South Yorkshire Police saying it should apologise to Sir Cliff Richard for letting the raid on his home be filmed by a TV news crew and helicopter.

The high profile raid over historic allegations of child sex abuse, which Sir Cliff denies, is described as "inept" in a report today by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee.

His Berkshire apartment was searched in August as part of an investigation into an alleged sexual assault on a boy at a religious event in Sheffield in 1985.

The raid - which took place while Sir Cliff was at another property in Barbados - drew criticism as a BBC crew was on hand to film the police activity.

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 a 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.

But the chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, Keith Vaz, said today:

South Yorkshire Police's handling of this situation was utterly inept. The Force allowed itself to hand over sensitive information to a journalist and granted him privileged access to the execution of a search warrant. The email exchanges could easily be mistaken for a script from "The Bill". The Force should have refused to cooperate and explained to senior BBC News executives why the premature broadcasting of a story, which they claimed the journalist threatened, would have prejudiced the investigation. "No British citizen should have to watch their home being raided by the police live on television. Sir Cliff Richard has suffered enormous and irreparable damage to his reputation and he is owed an apology over the way matters were handled. We are not surprised that he wishes to sell his home. "Police forces should consider carefully how they deal with approaches from journalists on such matters in the future. Someone in possession of sensitive information decided to leak details of the investigation to the media. We deplore this. South Yorkshire assert that the journalist stated it came from Operation Yewtree. The journalist denies this. South Yorkshire should have alerted the Metropolitan Police immediately. Their reasons for failing to do so are unsustainable."

In a statement, South Yorkshire Police said :

"Whilst we believe our actions were within policy and were well intended, they were ultimately flawed and we regret the additional anxiety which was caused to Sir Cliff Richard.

South Yorkshire Police has changed the way it deals with this type of media enquiry. In high profile cases the force no longer provides privileged briefings to reporters, nor does it confirm information which media sources seek to verify.

We are fully cooperating with the Metropolitan Police investigation regarding the original source of information."

A BBC spokesman said: "The committee chairman has already said that the BBC acted 'perfectly properly' in handling this story, and we're pleased today's report confirms this."

He added: "Our reporter said very clearly he did not reveal his sources to South Yorkshire Police. We stand by his account."

South Yorks police under fire over child protection

The police force at the centre of the Rotherham child abuse scandal is failing in one of its most important duties - to protect children according to the police watchdog.

Today's report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary says the South Yorkshire force has "limited understanding" of the risk posed by offenders who target vulnerable children. And it's been given six weeks to address its problems. David Hirst reports.

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Chief Constable gave "incorrect" information - Vaz

Keth Vaz, the chairman of Parliament's influential Home Affairs Select Committee, has criticised South Yorkshire Police' s Chief Constable David Crompton for giving incorrect information to the committee.

Mr Vaz MP said : " The Chief Constable has now stated that the information he gave to the Committee yesterday, concerning the number of convictions in Rotherham, was incorrect.

" It is extraordinary that he did not know how many people have been convicted of these crimes. Parliament, and the public, need accurate information about these serious and sensitive issues. We will expect a full explanation next Tuesday.

" I have spoken to the Chief Constable requesting clarity on the Rotherham convictions. "

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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Police Commissioner to examine Cliff Richard inquiry

The Police and Crime Commissioner in South Yorkshire is to examine the chain of events in the force's handling of the Sir Cliff Richard sex offence inquiry amid growing concerns about the presence of the media at the singer's house when officers carried out searches there on Thursday.

Shaun Wright says questions need to be asked abut the source of the original leak, which he says put the force in "a difficult position when approached by the media."

“The Commissioner is committed to ensuring that the policing needs of South Yorkshire communities are met, and this includes effectively addressing and investigating any concerns raised, including those in relation to ethical conduct.

In light of the outcomes of the Leveson Inquiry, the Commissioner will be looking very carefully at the catalogue of events which took place in relation to this investigation and any necessary actions will be taken. 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. In the meantime, working to protect the integrity of this investigation has been, and will continue to be of the utmost importance. It would therefore not be appropriate at this stage to comment any further on operational policing issues when an investigation is on-going."

– Shaun Wright, South Yorkshire PCC

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

EDL to stage demo in Doncaster

EDL protestors are due to take to the streets of Doncaster

There will be a strong police presence in Doncaster this afternoon when the English Defence League hold a demonstration in the town and the group United Against Facism stage a counter protest.

South Yorkshire Police and Doncaster Council are working with other partners to minimise the impact of today's demonstration in the Hexthorpe area .

Doncaster Superintendant Peter Norman said: "South Yorkshire Police has a duty to keep people and property safe and the public can be reassured that this is our priority.

"We have no legal power to ban the proposed protest and have a duty to respect individual's rights to protest peacefully.

"Careful, detailed planning and regular communication with protest groups has taken place and together with the council, we are making every effort to minimise disruption to the local community and to the road network.

"We will have extra officers on hand to ensure the protest passes peacefully and I wish to reassure local residents and businesses that Saturday's operation will not affect normal policing in Doncaster.

"Regular face-to-face dialogue will continue with the community before, during and after the demonstrations. We continue to thank local people, particularly residents in Hexthorpe, for their cooperation and understanding."

The latest information is that EDL demonstrators will gather from 11am near Doncaster train station. Around 12.30pm, they will make their way along St Sepulchre Gate to march at 1pm into Hexthorpe on Urban Road before listening to speeches at the park near Albion Terrace.

Witness appeal after 73-year-old injured in collision

Police are appealing for witnesses after a 73-year-old woman was seriously injured in a collision in Dinnington.

The accident happened around 9.30am yesterday morning when the woman was in collision with a vehicle in the car park area of the Co-operative supermarket in Rotherham Road, Dinnington.

The woman is currently in hospital in a serious condition.

Officers would like to hear from anyone who may have been at the supermarket or using the cash machine in the car park area this morning, who may have witnessed the collision. Please call 101 quoting incident number 403 of 12 July 2014.

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