South Yorkshire Police made ‘errors of judgement’ in its deal with the BBC to publicise the raid on Sir Cliff Richard’s home, crime commissioner Alan Billings has said.
But Dr Billings added he believes a new report shows the actions of the police ‘were motivated solely by the desire to protect the integrity of the investigation’.
An investigation said the force should not have agreed to let the BBC know when a raid on Sir Cliff’s house in relation to a historic sexual assault allegation was taking place in exchange for holding off on publication until that date.
Dr Billings said: “It is very clear that some errors of judgement took place which led to the disclosure of information to the BBC. However, I understand from Mr Trotter’s findings, that the actions on the part of South Yorkshire Police were motivated solely by the desire to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
Report author Andy Trotter said it was ‘unlikely’ the BBC would have run the story without police co-operation. He said: “By cooperating the force ‘stood the story up’ and absolved the BBC of any risk or responsibility for the story.”
But he added: “I am content that those involved at SYP were motivated by trying to ensure the integrity of the investigation. However, through a failure to foresee the consequences of their decisions, they put the force in a position which was difficult to defend and which could, and should, have been avoided.”
A report by MPs in October said there was ‘nothing wrong’ in the BBC’s actions, but criticised South Yorkshire Police’s ‘inept’ handling of the situation.