South Yorkshire Police's raid on Sir Cliff Richard's house in Berkshire may have been unlawful due to the presence of BBC cameras, according to senior lawyers.
Lord MacDonald, director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) told The Times that last week’s police raid at the singer's home may have been illegal due to the presence of the broadcaster's cameras at the scene.
McDonald, who retired as DPP in 2008, said “To apply for a search warrant, having come to an arrangement with a media organisation in advance, so that the warrant can be used to create an event designed to reflect favourably on the police. It is possible that the failure to disclose these facts renders the warrant unlawful.”
The Times also quoted another senior legal figure, Geoffrey Robertson QC who told them: “It is difficult to believe that any magistrate would have granted a warrant for the world’s press and helicopters to attend the search.”
Both South Yorkshire police and the BBC have been told to prepare to be questioned by MPs over the controversial coverage which included reporters on the scene and live helicopter footage as police arrived to search Richard’s Yorkshire home.
The singer is being investigated over allegations of sexual misconduct but has not yet been charged with any offence. Richard, 73, has denied the allegations.
Contacted by The Drum a spokeswoman for South Yorkshire police declined to comment except to confirm that their view was that “It is not common practice to inform the court of any media involvement.”
The BBC sent The Drum the following statement: “A BBC journalist approached South Yorkshire Police with information about the investigation. We followed normal journalistic practice and agreed not to publish a story that might jeopardise a police inquiry. We have also confirmed that South Yorkshire Police were not the original source for the story.
"The BBC has received a letter from South Yorkshire Police regarding the situation and will respond in due course. This was a breaking news story which was covered widely by all media. We applied normal editorial judgements and are satisfied with our coverage.”