Reporter denies forcing South Yorkshire detective to reveal details of raid on Cliff Richard's home

Sir Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard

A BBC reporter has told a High Court judge that he did not force a senior South Yorkshire detective into providing information about a raid on the home of Sir Cliff Richard.

Dan Johnson, who broke the story about the investigation into an allegation of an historic sexual assault and a raid on Sir Cliff's home four years ago, denied using strong-arm tactics on a South Yorkshire Police superintendent in charge of the operation.

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He told Mr Justice Mann yesterday that he did not work 'like that'.

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Sir Cliff, 77, is suing the BBC over its coverage of the South Yorkshire Police search of his Berkshire home in August 2014 and wants damages at the 'top end' of the scale.

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He claims the BBC coverage, which involved the use of a helicopter, was a 'very serious invasion' of his privacy.

The BBC disputes the singer's claims.

Mr Justice Mann, sitting at the High Court in London, has heard how Mr Johnson asked a South Yorkshire Police press officer if Sir Cliff was on the 'radar' after getting a tip that the singer was being investigated.

Matthew Fenwick, who was the South Yorkshire detective superintendent heading the investigation, has told how he felt 'forced' into revealing information about the raid.

Mr Fenwick, who is now retired, told the judge how Mr Johnson had said 'he could and he would' publish his story before South Yorkshire Police wanted information to emerge.

Barrister Justin Rushbrooke QC, who is leading Sir Cliff's legal team, suggested that Mr Johnson pressured the force into letting him cover their search by threatening to reveal what he knew before the raid was carried out.

He said to Mr Johnson: "You are effectively strong-arming South Yorkshire Police into co-operating."

Mr Johnson replied: "That's not what happened. I didn't need to hold anyone over a barrel. I don't work like that anyway."

Mr Johnson said a meeting with Mr Fenwick and a force press officer was 'polite, calm and well-mannered' and added: "The information flowed without me needing to put any pressure on anyone."

Lawyers have told Mr Justice Mann how in late 2013, a man made an allegation to the Metropolitan Police, saying he had been sexually assaulted by Sir Cliff during an event featuring evangelist Billy Graham at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane football stadium, when he was a child in 1985.

Met Police officers passed the allegation to South Yorkshire Police in July 2014.

Sir Cliff denied the allegation and in June 2016 prosecutors announced that he would face no charges.

A BBC spokesman said the corporation reported Sir Cliff's 'full denial of the allegations at every stage'.

South Yorkshire Police paid Sir Cliff £400,000 in an out of court settlement.