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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."

Father and son perish in fire

A nine-year-old boy and his father have been killed in a suspicious house fire in South Yorkshire.

Darren Sykes and son Paul were found in the house in Penistone, near Barnsley last night. Mr Sykes' older son, twelve-year-old Jack is in a critical condition in hospital.

Although police believe the fire was started deliberately they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident. David Hirst reports


Kerry Needham appeals for more funding for missing Ben investigation

Kerry Needham is continuing her campaign to find her son Ben, who disappeared from the Greek island of Kos in 1991.

Next week Ben will be 25-years-old. 23 of those years he's been apart from his mum, grandparents and all his family including his sister Leighanna.

In recent years Kerry has stepped up efforts to secure funding for South Yorkshire Police to investigate leads which the family believes have never been investigated fully.

In 2012 South Yorkshire officers joined a team to excavate the farmhouse from where Ben disappeared, but found nothing. Kerry joined Gaynor and Duncan in the studio with her daughter Leighanna and the new addition to the family, Ben's niece Hermione.

Yorkshire soldiers given military funeral a century after their deaths

Fifteen soldiers have finally been laid to rest today a hundred years after they died. Six of them were from Yorkshire and all served with the 2nd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment.

They died trying to stop the Germans capturing a small hamlet just outside Lille in Northern France. Their bodies were discovered there by chance by builders five years ago.

The ceremony took place at a Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in northern France.

David Wood was at today's ceremony and has sent us this report:

David Cameron: send British police to Thailand

The Prime Minister has defended the decision to send British detectives to Thailand to help police there investigate the murders of a Leeds student and another traveller on the island of Koh Tao.

The bodies of David Miller a 24 year old Leeds University graduate and 23 year old Hannah Witheridge were discovered on a beach last month.

Two Burmese men accused of the killings have now retracted their confessions and there's been widespread criticism of the Thai police investigation.

War heroes to be reburied

Six soldiers from our region who fought in World War One are to be re-buried in France today after a DNA breakthrough.

The granddaughter and the great granddaughter of John Bramold from Sheffield will be there. Private Bramold's body was identified after being discovered in a ditch.

We spoke to Mr Bramold's great granddaughter Amanda Edwards and granddaughter Maureen Simpson:


Army medics fly from Yorkshire to fight Ebola

Army medics trained in North Yorkshire have left the country this morning to join British efforts in fighting the Ebola outbreak.

Army medics fly from Yorkshire to fight Ebola

Among them are personnel from the 35 Squadron, 5 Medical Regiment.

They will man the Ebola Training Academy in Sierra Leone, which will supply five treatment centres currently being built by the UK.

Bradford family say government is underplaying Ebola threat

A family from Bradford, who says the government is not taking the threat of the Ebola virus seriously, have stocked enough supplies to keep them going for a year.

The Tiler family have collected long-life food, water, and bottles of gas in case there is a widespread Ebola outbreak in the city.

The Government says the risk in the UK is low but screening of passengers will be extended to Manchester and Birmingham airports, as well as Heathrow and Gatwick. Victoria Whittam reports

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