A South Yorkshire police chief has accused the BBC of a “cover-up” over its role in the police raid on Sir Cliff Richard’s flat following sexual assault allegations.
South Yorkshire police chief constable David Crompton claimed the corporation appeared to “distance itself from what had happened” after it broadcast the raid on the pop star’s penthouse.
The BBC, which had a film crew on the scene, broke the news of the search but has been heavily criticised for its handling of the story.
Mr Crompton said the BBC’s misleading and inaccurate portrayal of its involvement in what happened led to the force making a formal complaint.
Keith Vaz, home affairs committee chairman, said the claims were a “matter of deep concern”.
He has summoned the chief constable and BBC director general Tony Hall to appear before the committee on September 2.
The singer’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.
Sir Cliff, who was in Portugal when the search took place, has firmly denied any wrongdoing.
Mr Crompton said the force was approached by a BBC journalist with detailed information about its investigation.
It “reluctantly agreed” to give the reporter notice of the day officers planned to search the property to dissuade the corporation from publishing details in advance and protect the “integrity of the investigation”.
“It was not done in order to maximise publicity, contrary to some press reports,” he wrote in a letter to Mr Vaz.
Mr Crompton said an article appeared on the BBC website on the afternoon of the raid that suggested there had been a deliberate attempt to “ensure maximum coverage” by the force.
“The force contacted the BBC but the corporation refused to withdraw or adapt the article,” he said in the letter. “This appeared to be an attempt by the BBC to distance itself from what had taken place.”
Lord Hall has insisted that BBC journalists “acted appropriately” in its coverage of the story.