BBC and South Yorkshire Police to be questioned by MPs about raid on Cliff Richard's flat

The director general of the BBC and the head of South Yorkshire Police face questions from MPs over the leak row surrounding the search of Sir Cliff Richard's home.

South Yorkshire Chief Constable David Crompton and Lord Tony Hall have been warned to stand ready to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) after Parliament returns from recess.

The BBC broke news of the search of the pop star's Berkshire penthouse last Thursday, with cameras and a helicopter on hand to record the arrival of police.

Home Affairs committee chairman Keith Vaz has written to Crompton and Hall asking a series of questions about how the BBC found out about the planned search, and asked them to reply by midday on Friday.

Richard's apartment was searched by officers from South Yorkshire and Thames Valley Police last week as part of an investigation into an alleged sexual assault on a young boy at a religious event in 1985.

The performer, who was in Portugal when the search took place, firmly denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the press were informed in advance of the search.

The broadcaster's head of newsgathering Jonathan Munro said that the information did not come from South Yorkshire Police, while the force said it had decided to work with the broadcaster to protect its investigation.

The force said: ''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 [was] in a position to publish it.

“The force was reluctant to cooperate 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."

Mr Vaz has asked Lord Hall how and when the broadcaster discovered the plan, when they first contacted South Yorkshire Police and whether the force had confirmed the time and date of the search.

The BBC's Director General must also explain when he first knew about the planned coverage of the search, who authorised use of the broadcaster's helicopter to film it, why the police have complained to the BBC and whether he believes any BBC journalist has acted inappropriately.

Crompton has been asked to detail who in the force knew about the search and who else might have found out; when he and the force's press team were made aware; how many times the force had confirmed the time of a search to journalists; and whether the search had been delayed or brought forward.

He has also been asked whether he believes any officer has acted inappropriately, why the force had complained to the BBC, when the broadcaster asked for more information about the search and what agreement was in place about reports of the process.

A BBC spokesperson said: "We have received the letter and will respond in due course. Mr Vaz understands and supports the right of the media to report matters in the public interest. The BBC's editorial independence is protected by our Royal Charter and is highly valued by the public. The BBC does not name its sources nor is it appropriate to go into detail around editorial processes."

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