British police apologise to Cliff Richard over handling of property search

The BBC filmed the search by helicopter after police informed them in advance when it was due to take place. The coverage sparked widespread criticism that it had violated the privacy of Cliff Richard (above) and damaged his reputation before he was
The BBC filmed the search by helicopter after police informed them in advance when it was due to take place. The coverage sparked widespread criticism that it had violated the privacy of Cliff Richard (above) and damaged his reputation before he was charged with a crime. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - British police apologised to veteran singer Cliff Richard on Tuesday over the handling of a search of his property during an investigation into a sex crime allegation.

The BBC filmed the search by helicopter after police informed them in advance when it was due to take place.

The coverage sparked widespread criticism that it had violated the privacy of the 73-year-old star and damaged his reputation before he was charged with a crime.

The singer denied the sex crime allegation.

The police said they did not generate publicity for their investigation, adding that they believed the BBC had been leaked detailed information and would publish it unless they cooperated, impeding their investigation.

"We had a job to do but I do apologise to Sir Cliff if we were insensitive about the way that we did that," South Yorkshire police chief constable David Crompton told a parliamentary committee.

"I'm confident that we made the right decision in difficult and unusual circumstances."

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