Barnsley TV star and former BBC journalist Sir Michael Parkinson has waded into the row over the search of Cliff Richard’s home by South Yorkshire Police.
The former chat show host criticised the corporation’s reaction to the investigation saying it was an ‘error of judgement’ that ‘would have done the red tops credit’.
Sir Michael said the media’s handling of the case was like a ‘witch hunt’ and called for greater protection of people’s anonymity until they are charged.
The veteran TV host also criticised the media for its reaction to news on social media, calling for it to be more responsible in how it handles information from such sources.
Speaking about the coverage of the search of Sir Cliff’s home, he said: “I just think it’s wrong. I think anybody not charged should not be named by the police, and shouldn’t be reported in the newspapers either.
“I think the Cliff Richard case only highlights the feeling there is some kind of witch hunt going on.
“I think the BBC did create an error in judgement, not in understanding the story and having the story and trying to follow it through, but in reacting to the story in a kind of way that would have done the red tops credit.”
He also spoke out about the search Rolf Harris’s home.
Sir Michael said: “I just feel that they should tread more softly and we should be more considerate of everybody’s feelings and claims and rights.
“We should pursue people, of course, who have done wrong. That is indisputably the police’s job.
“What I am concerned about is the manner in which they go about it and the manner in which the media follow through.”
Sir Cliff’s home was searched by South Yorkshire Police last week after a man contacted the force to claim he had been sexually assaulted by the star as a child during a 1985 evangelical show at Bramall Lane in Sheffield.
Sir Cliff strenuously denies the allegations.