A detective was forced into a deal with a BBC reporter that led to a tip-off about a raid on Cliff Richard’s flat, it was claimed in court.
Matthew Fenwick said the journalist threatened to “compromise the investigation” into historical sex abuse by running a story before his team had searched the singer’s home.
Mr Fenwick said Dan Johnson described Sir Cliff as a “celebrity paedo” and “clearly stated” he got his information from Operation Yewtree, the Scotland Yard probe set up after the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Mr Fenwick told the High Court: “We came to an arrangement that he wouldn’t publish it then, but that we would notify him when we were ready to take further action.”
Asked if the BBC forced him to do a deal, Mr Fenwick said: “Yes, really, yes. I felt we didn’t have many options.”
The ex-Superintendent said he had thought publishing the story would compromise the investigation and could also “compromise Sir Cliff Richard by exposing him to allegations, potentially giving him the opportunity to dispose of evidence”.
He and the South Yorkshire Police communications chief, Carrie Goodwin, told Mr Johnson when they were considering a search of Sir Cliff’s home, but turned down his request to attend.
Sir Cliff, 77, who was never charged over the allegation, is suing the BBC for damages over its reporting of the raid on his flat in Sunningdale, Berks, in 2014.
South Yorkshire Police paid Sir Cliff £400,000 in damages, but the BBC is fighting the claim and says its coverage was of “legitimate public interest”.
Mr Fenwick said he complained after an article on the BBC website suggested the corporation’s presence at the raid was a deliberate attempt to “maximise publicity for the investigation”.
Mr Fenwick said: “I was angry about this because it was untrue. I made a number of calls to Dan Johnson as I wanted him to ensure it was removed.”
Sir Cliff sings praises of fans for helping him through it
Sir Cliff has praised fans for their support during his court case, saying it made him feel “both elated and humbled”.
Making an emotional online post, he wrote: “I am so grateful for your support at this harrowing time. Reading all your comments on Facebook has left me both elated and humbled.”
The singer added: “I just want to say to all of you, that you have lifted my spirits no end and I will face the days ahead with a fresh purpose. Thank you.”
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